Who doesn’t love browsing Instagram and watching videos?
When you’re relaxing and killing time, there’s nothing better than binge-watching your favorite YouTuber’s videos with a bowl of popcorn in bed.
But instead of spending hours perfecting your makeup game with Instagram posts or watching silly prank videos in English, you should do all those things… in Japanese!
Using authentic Japanese resources to learn the language means that you can have fun and learn naturally.
When you watch videos not made for learners, you’re getting real-world Japanese that takes you beyond the textbook and introduces the kind of Japanese real native speakers actually use.
So prepare some popcorn.
Settle down somewhere comfortable.
Let’s learn Japanese the natural way with some authentic resources!
How Authentic Japanese Resources Can Help You Learn
So what’s an “authentic” Japanese resource? Japanese videos, blogs and social media posts made by native Japanese speakers are all authentic resources that can improve your language skills through real Japanese speech, slang and culture.
Not convinced? Here are three big reasons for adding authentic Japanese content to your lesson plan:
- Listening to native Japanese can help you understand how Japanese is really spoken. You’ll notice that most Japanese YouTubers speak fairly quickly. This is how Japanese is naturally spoken, so watching these videos will improve your listening skills.
- Reading and watching authentic Japanese introduces you to Japanese slang and modern language. Social media posts and blogs are great for reading real Japanese but you can get the same benefit by reading subtitles on some of the video resources we’ll be discussing.
- Entertaining resources make learning Japanese more fun! Let’s be real, learning a language is hard. Spicing things up by using authentic Japanese resources to improve your fluency is a great way to keep things entertaining and stay motivated.
Authentic resources will help you learn naturally, the way kids learn a language! And don’t worry if you can’t understand everything at first: The more you practice, the easier you’ll start picking up certain words, phrases and even sentence constructions.
Let’s dive into the world of authentic Japanese with these eight excellent resources.
8 Authentic Japanese Resources for Learning the Language Naturally
水溜りボンド (みずたまり ぼんど) — Mizutamari Bond (YouTubers)
Mizutamari Bond is the YouTube channel of comedy duo Kanta and Tommy. These two funny dudes started the channel when they were in college to bring their style of comedy to a larger audience.
We’re not necessarily talking about stand-up here—Mizutamari Bond do everything from vlogs to urban legend videos to pranks, all with their very funny type of comedy as the focus.
A vast majority of their videos are conversational, meaning they aren’t scripted and the dialogue is fairly quick.
Most of their videos have Japanese subtitles as well, so intermediate and advanced learners would definitely enjoy watching their videos to brush up on conversational Japanese.
ボンボンTV (ぼんぼん てぃーびー) — Bon Bon TV (YouTube Variety Show)
Japan is known for its hilarious and wild variety shows. Luckily, you don’t need access to a Japanese TV channel to enjoy them.
Bon Bon TV is a seriously entertaining variety show exclusive to YouTube. Most of this show’s episodes feature a “let’s try” style or elaborate skits.
The videos on this channel don’t have subtitles, so advanced learners could use this channel to work on their listening skills. Beginners can also watch this variety show to get a feel for what Japanese comedy is like.
FluentU (Videos with Subtitles)
Even though FluentU isn’t based in Japan, the program has a ton of authentic Japanese videos for any level of learner to enjoy.
FluentU takes real-world Japanese videos—like music videos, movie trailers, documentaries, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It naturally and gradually eases you into learning Japanese language and culture. You’ll learn real Japanese as it’s spoken in real life.
Just take a look at the wide variety of authentic video content available in the program. Here’s a small sample:
You’ll discover tons of new Japanese vocabulary through these great clips.
Don’t worry about your skill level being an issue when it comes to understanding the language. FluentU makes native Japanese videos approachable through interactive transcripts.
Tap on any word to look it up instantly.
You’ll see definitions, in-context usage examples and helpful illustrations. Simply tap “add” to send interesting vocabulary words to your personal vocab list for later review.
FluentU even uses a learning program which adapts to your specific needs, to turn every video into a language learning lesson and get you to actively practice your newly-learned language.
Access FluentU on the website to use it with your computer or tablet or, better yet, start learning Japanese on the go with the FluentU app!
木下 優樹菜 (きのした ゆきな ) — Yukina Kinoshita (Instagram Star)
Yukina Kinoshita is a model, actress and Instagram influencer. She first appeared on the variety show “Quiz! Hexagon II” which catapulted her into fame in Japan.
For a long time, she was known as a “dumb actress” for her playful and somewhat ditzy personality. Now, Yukina is appreciated for her aesthetically pleasing lifestyle Instagram presence, where she often posts videos and photos of her life with her young daughter. She currently has nearly five million subscribers and updates her account regularly.
Yukina’s Instagram account is a great authentic Japanese resource to follow if you want to work on your reading skills as well as your knowledge of Japanese internet slang.
オールニッポンニュース・ネットワーク (おーる にっぽん にゅーす・ねっとわーく) — All-Nippon News Network (YouTube Channel with Live Broadcast)
News stations are some of the best authentic resources you can find for learning about the Japanese language and culture. All-Nippon News Network (ANN) is one such useful news resource from Japan.
Their YouTube channel has thousands of news clips on the topics of politics, the economy, entertainment and more.
ANN features dialogue that’s easy to follow, so all levels of Japanese learners can use their videos to improve listening and reading skills.
The language is very formal as well, which can be useful for those who want to focus on proper Japanese.
関根りさ (せきね りさ ) — Risa Sekine (YouTuber)
Risa Sekine is a Japanese YouTuber and professional nurse. She’s one of the most subscribed female Japanese YouTubers around.
She’s known for posting content involving beauty product reviews and “get ready with me” videos, as well as the occasional makeup tutorial.
Risa is very relatable and pleasant to watch, so “authentic” in this case also describes her as a person, whether you particularly like beauty content or not. Still, if you’re bored stiff by beauty tutorials, Risa has a gaming channel as well that’s another great authentic resource.
Intermediate and advanced learners may get the most benefit from watching Risa’s videos, as her Japanese is very conversational and quick. The lack of English subtitles may also pose too much of a challenge for beginners.
Cooking with Dog (Cooking Show)
Who doesn’t love cooking shows? Cooking with Dog is an adorably entertaining YouTube channel dedicated to showing viewers how to cook delicious Japanese dishes.
Through this channel, you can learn how to effectively make 団子 (だんご ) — dango dumplings, いなり寿司 (いなりずし) — inari sushi as well as other Japanese delicacies.
Upon viewing their channel, you may be surprised that we included it on our list since the dialogue is mostly in English. We added it here despite this because a big part of learning a new language is understanding different aspects of the culture it belongs to.
What better way to get in touch with Japanese culture than through a Japanese cooking show? Learning how to cook Japanese food may also prove useful to Japanese learners who plan on moving abroad to the country.
Plus, this channel isn’t completely useless in the scope of language learning: Most of the videos are subtitled in Japanese, so you can work on spoken-English-to-written-Japanese word association.
木下ゆうか (きのした ゆうか) — Yuka Kinoshita (YouTuber)
If you love cooking shows, you may also like the YouTube phenomenon of “big eaters.” One famous big eater is Yuka Kinoshita, a surprisingly tiny Japanese woman who can eat large quantities of food.
There’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of the famous Japanese eater, as she’s been featured on international news for her impressive stomach size. Yuka posts various food videos on her YouTube channel as well as Korean 먹방 (meokbang) — mukbang style videos as well (though she speaks Japanese in these).
This channel is a goldmine for beginner Japanese learners. Just about every video from Yuka has English and Japanese subtitles, so you can practice word association and work on your listening skills.
These authentic Japanese resources are nothing short of entertaining, no matter which resource you decide to use on the regular. Learning a new language naturally is fun!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Japanese with real-world videos.