Naruhodo Japan: the podcast for learning about the language and culture of Japan from a Nikkei perspective.

We hope to do this via audio and video podcasts that feature:

  • Japanese language lessons
  • Commentary on Japanese culture
  • Coverage of Nikkei events (Japanese living abroad)

We will cover a broad base of beginner topics as well as some material for intermediate/advanced students. However, this podcast is not to be used as your sole source for learning Japanese. Rather, it should be one of the many supplements in your studies. The more resources you have, the greater your understanding will be. As we also cover the Nikkei community, there will be some discussion of issues particular for Nikkei. We hope that as you listen to the podcast, you will learn new things and say Naruhodo!

Naruhodo Japan philosophy: though some of us may have never stepped foot in Japan, it is important that we Nikkei share our heritage with each other so that the culture and traditions of those that came to the countries we live in do not become completely lost through the generations. As we teach others who are interested in our heritage, our knowledge of it becomes stronger. To teach is to learn.

Naruhodo Japan is based out of Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

According to the 2000 census, there are 796,000 people of pure Japanese heritage in the U.S. (288,854 in Southern California) and 1,148,932 Japanese Americans of mixed heritage (394,896), giving California the largest Japanese American population in the country. – Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles

Read more regarding Japanese citizens living abroad.


Creator of the Naruhodo Japan podcast; teacher in cyber residence. Nikkei, Nisei, haafu. (of Japanese descent, second generation Japanese living abroad, half-Japanese.) Mariko lived in Japan as a child and returns every few years to visit family. One day one of these sato-gaeri (returning home) trips will be podcast. Slightly active in the Okinawan-American community and enjoys sharing Japanese culture with her gaijin (non-Japanese) friends. After some time of helping people to learn about Japan and the Japanese language online, Mariko is contemplating becoming a Japanese language teacher offline. This podcast allows her to experiment if it is a worthwhile pursuit for both her and potential students. She sometimes answers questions on Yahoo! Answers. During the Kaa-chan Corner segments, you will notice Kaa-chan refer to her as Mari-chan. Get used to it, yo!

Kaa-chan Corner

The Kaa-chan Corner segment features interviews with as well as conducted by Mariko’s mother, an Issei (first generation Japanese living abroad) from Okinawa. This segment is conducted mostly in Japanese, therefore intermediate/advanced listening skills are required. As one who was born and grew up in Japan, Kaa-chan Corner offers insight to Japanese culture that only a native can provide. (But please bear in mind the broadness of Japanese culture and that Kaa-chan’s experiences are specifically Okinawan.) With the interviews conducted by Kaa-chan, other Issei from various parts of Japan share their knowledge. Since Kaa-chan is a native Japanese, perhaps her title should be Kaa-chan-sensei-1-kyu or Kaa-chan-sensei OG.

Read more regarding Okinawans living abroad (in Japanese). (As of 2000, 80,000 living in mainland USA, 49,000 in Hawaii alone, 130,000 in Brasil, 56,000 in Peru, 22,400 in Argentina, 8,400 in Bolivia, 1,360 in Canada, and 782 in Mexico.)

Apologies but at this time transcripts are not provided for Kaa-chan Corner nor interviews. I know that a transcript is useful but in the end I came to the conclusion that it will not enhance your listening skills because when you speak to people in person, you cannot turn on subtitles. However, a vocabulary list is provided.

Technical Details

Credits are at the bottom and on certain pages for the bits of technology used. This site is run using a blog platform, enhanced with plugins. The sensei is the webmaster, also in charge of the graphics and audio. You could say that this is a one-woman show. Here’s some more info on what goes on behind the scenes.

  • Audio podcasts recorded with an Olympus digital voice recorder WS-110, edited using Peak audio software by Bias, and mixed down in Garageband on a Mac.
  • Original podcast music recorded in Garageband using loops and real instruments plugged in via JamLab by M-Audio.
  • Video podcasts yet to come so their tech info is not available yet but will most likely be edited in iMovie.
  • Site graphics manipulated with Adobe Photoshop on a Mac.

This podcast is done cheaply with DIY philosophy. To get out there and do things yourself. To use materials you already own or have access to. If you need to purchase anything, do it cheaply.

Header image: based on a photo Mariko took of an amulet stand at Senso-ji temple (AKA Asakusa) in Tokyo, Japan. The filter is built-in the program; the Japanese fonts came with the Mac.

Footer image: omamori (good luck amulet sold at temples). This particular omamori is a photoshop creation, not one that you can purchase. It is a “nihongo omamori”, that is to say it should provide good luck at learning the Japanese language. There are education related omamori for sale but Mariko thought that Naruhodo Japan should have a specific omamori for those of us attempting to master the Japanese language.