Did you know that Japanese is the ninth most spoken language in the world? Around 130 million people speak the language so if you’ve chosen this language to learn, you’ll have plenty of people to speak to. One way you can learn more vocabulary, hear how words are pronounced, and learn about the culture is by watching tv shows in Japanese. While this won’t help you to get fluent on its own, it can provide some valuable contact time for a language learner. That’s why we put together a list of the best Japanese TV shows for each level of language learning.

Japanese TV Shows for Beginners 

  1. Doraemon– This is a very popular anime in Japan and great for beginners due to its basic vocabulary. Doraemon is about a little boy by the name of Nobita. He’s not great at his studies or sports and unfortunately gets bullied. However, a cat that travels back in time called Doraemon. He’s from the 22nd century and comes to protect Nobita by using special gadgets.
  2. Chirubii– This is another animated series with simple vocabulary perfect for beginners. The show features the cartoon version of popular picture books in Japan. While it was made for kids, it’s pretty entertaining.
  3. Sazae-San– This show was inspired by a comic series that was released in 1946. However, people don’t find this show dated, it’s actually a really popular cartoon series in Japan. Sazae San focuses on a 24-year-old woman, Sazae. She lives with her husband, parents, her siblings, and her son. You’ll get a real idea of the typical conversations people have in Japan.

Japanese TV Shows for Intermediate Language Learners 

  1. Why Did You Come to Japan?– This show usually takes place in an airport. The interviewer asks people why they came to Japan. Of course, people go to Japan for various reasons and will openly say so on the show. The dialogue should be pretty easy to follow and the show is entertaining to say the least.
  2. Erased– This show only has 12 episodes but it’s entertaining and will help you on your Japanese learning journey. It’s about a time-traveling man but to be fair he can really only travel back in time. He wanted to go back in time to prevent a murder but the viewers are not captivated by the mystery that starts to unfold. You can watch this on Netflix.
  3. Shiratori Reiko de Gozaimasu!-If you love romantic comedies that are also dramatic then this show will be perfect for you. The show centers around a wealthy young woman by the name of Reiko Shiratori. She fell in love with someone not in her social class but she’s too prideful to tell him. Even though Reiko has problems telling him her feelings, she follows him to Tokyo.
  4. Death Note– This cartoon is recommended for those who are further along in their Japanese language journey. There is a manga (Japanese comic book) and a live-action version of it that you can check out. The series revolves around a book and the main character called Light. Once a name is written in the book the person dies. Light finds the book and attempts to use it on who he thinks should die. He was trying to create a society without crime but the police are on to him.

Japanese TV Shows for Advanced Language Learners

  1. Ame Talk– If you love comedy, this show is right up your alley. Ame Talk features comedians Hiroyuki Miyasako and Tōru Hotohara. Every show they have a panel of guests who they ask to compete while they answer interview questions. This show will have you cracking up and learning Japanese, a win-win situation.
  2. The Promised Neverland– Yes, this is another Japanese cartoon or anime but it’s still suitable for advanced learners. It’s a darker version of the classic story of Peter Pan and people absolutely love it. We put it in the advanced category primarily because of its complex plot.
  3. Ushijima the Loan Shark– This show is a bit dark as well and shows a part of Tokyo not often spoken about. The show is fictional but mirrors some of the realities such as loan sharks. Ushijima is the main loan shark in this story and however takes his loan will have to find a way to pay him back no matter what. There will be lots of slang in this show which is why it’s better suited for more advanced learners.

People say that Japanese is a bit difficult for English speakers to learn. However, we’re here to tell you it’s definitely not impossible. While these shows won’t make you fluent, a Japanese language tutor, or a couple, could definitely be beneficial on your road to fluency.

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