Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: November 27, 2021 at 17:00 PHT (GMT+8)
We thank anime for being a major contributor to our interest in Japanese language and culture. But do anime shows accurately describe how it feels to experience Japan in the 3D?
Yes and no. While there are many realistic, slice of life series out there, there are just as many that are completely within the realm of fantasy.
So, to give us average, non-isekai-protagonist people a more accurate picture of what Japan is really like, we present seven YouTube channels that educate us about the ups and downs of the Land of the Rising Sun.
1. Abroad in Japan
Abroad in Japan features British YouTuber Chris Broad, currently located in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. His journey in Japan began when he worked as an Assistant Language Teacher under the JET Programme in 2012.
Like many other YouTubers who produce Japanese-related content, Chris vlogs about the fun topics that many of us have always been curious about (e.g., eating different kinds of Japanese dishes, visiting tourist spots, and how living in Japan has changed him). However, we think what makes Chris and his channel stand out is how [hilariously] honest he is about the not-so-positive sides about living in Japan, especially as a foreigner. Chris strikes a healthy balance between loving Japan and its eccentricities, while also expressing how boggled he is by some of its ways (all with his dry, witty sense of humor).
2. Asian Boss
Looking for more serious, journalistic content? Then Asian Boss is just for you. Asian Boss is an independent media company founded by former lawyer Stephen Park and former architect Kei Ibaraki. The company is known for having a large pool of freelance journalists across Asia (including Japan, South Korea, China, etc.) who conduct street interviews in their home countries to gather opinions on current events, cultural practices, and social norms.
In the video featured above, Asian Boss tackles one of the most frequently asked questions by foreigners: What's it like being an international student in Japan? Or, to be more specific, what's it like being an international student in Japan during a pandemic?
Of course, anyone who has watched anime will definitely be interested at some point to try learning the Japanese language. American YouTuber Dogen (real name: Kevin O'Donnell) offers us the chance to learn Japanese pronunciation in an entertaining way. Like Chris Broad, Dogen set foot in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher under the JET Programme. While Chris focuses more on experiencing different facets of Japan, Dogen acts out the victories and struggles of learning Japanese (because honestly, there's a LOT).
In the video above, "The 8 (+1) Stages of Learning Japanese," Dogen does a hilarious skit of how Japanese language learners transition from getting praised for their Japanese to just not being sure about themselves anymore. We vouch that it's accurate!
4. Let's ask Shogo -Your Japanese friend in Kyoto
Let's ask Shogo is our recommended YouTuber if you want to learn more about the traditional side of Japan (e.g., tea ceremonies, Noh theatre, samurai, geisha, katana, etc.). Shogo has the advantage on these topics not just because he was born and raised in Japan, but because he speaks fluent English too due to having lived in Michigan, America for six years.
In the video featured above, Shogo addresses a question by many Naruto fans. What are the differences between Ninja and Shinobi? Get ready for a concise and fun history lesson!
5. Mr Yabatan
Norwegian YouTuber Mr Yabatan probably doesn't need much introduction because chances are, you've heard him! He's a comedian who's been making vlogs about his funny adventures in Japan since 2014, and many fans remember him for his signature line 「本当にびっくりした！」(Romaji: Hontou ni Bikkurishita!; English: "I am really surprised!"). He adds Japanese subtitles to his videos, so this is a fun way to lightly practice your reading and listening comprehension!
If you need to destress after a long day, you can't go wrong with Mr Yabatan's videos, like the one above where he visits a cat café (that does not make you eat the cats. We just wanted to make that clear).
6. That Japanese Man Yuta
That Japanese Man Yuta was one of the first YouTubers to popularize Japanese language learning on this platform. If you want highly informative, straight-to-the-point language learning content, Yuta's channel is for you. And don't worry, his videos aren't boring at all. Yuta has studied his fair share of English content to be able to capture Western humor.
In the above video, Yuta teaches us a much-needed skill: how to type Japanese on a keyboard.
SHUNchan is a Japanese person who studied in the US. He opened his channel in 2020 with various reaction videos to other people's YouTube content portraying Japanese culture. What's great about his content is that he's 100% real talk, answering people's most pertinent questions about life in Japan without glamorizing his home country (but also not bashing it, just facts and realness). Plus, he's highly fluent both in American English and its jokes, so you'll be getting the best of both worlds.
In the above video, SHUNchan gets very detailed with a topic many people are excited to ask: salary in Japan.
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