One of the main facets of Japanese society that attracts millions upon millions of visitors to the country each year is the high technology.
Putting it simply, Japan has some of the most awesome, sophisticated and technologically advanced gadgets and gizmos to be found anywhere in the world.
Even in just the past 9 years since I moved here, advances have been huge. Smartphones, Facebook, You Tube: things we all take advantage of in our daily lives, that were unheard of just a decade ago.
With these huge leaps forward in technology, never before in history has Japan been more open and accessible to the wider world. One can only wonder what the pre-Meiji Shogunate would have made of Japan being thrown open to the world in such a way. Of course, if the Tokugawa’s were still running the show here today, I’d probably be writing this from a prison cell, assuming I hadn’t already been beheaded!
Anyway, I digress. With a wealth of resources now available and a seemingly constantly increasing number of people worldwide ever eager to consume as much information as they can about this wonderful country, where should one start?
Well, naturally, for travel information, hints and tips, the best place to be is right here at Taiken Japan, with yours truly and a host of other, equally brilliant, writers!
Of course it is often said that the print media is in decline these days, thankfully blogging gives me the outlet that other, more mainstream print media cannot provide.
That being said, the printed word has always been a less communicative form of information sharing than that of the spoken word.
Photo: Alex Akopyan on FlickrPodcasts, internet radio and visual broadcasts are the future. And once again Japan is ahead of the curve here.
Somewhat surprisingly, there are a huge amount of online resources available in English these days.
So, with that in mind, I present some of my favourites, in no particular order.
The Just Japan Podcast
Ok, first I should declare a vested interest. The host of this weekly show, Kevin O’Shea, is a good friend and former work colleague of mine.
Originally from Canada, Kevin has spent a number of years living and working both in Korea and Japan, which gives him a unique perspective. Whilst some other long term residents of Japan who stray into the realm of blogging and broadcasting can sometimes get bogged down with the same bitterness and negativity that can afflict a number of long term residents here, the Just Japan podcast strikes a fine balance of informing honestly but never cynically about the experiences you will have as a foreigner living in Japan. In addition to providing a great source of valuable information to potential visitors to Japan, the host and his guests of the week will also engage in lively and informed discussion about all the issues of the day.
Recent topics covered include Craft beer breweries in Japan, Setting up your own business in Japan, becoming a permanent resident and a host of other important issues.
You can find a new podcast each week at Kevin’s blogsite.
For those lucky enough to have an iPhone or iPad, you can also subscribe to the Just Japan Podcast via the itunes feed. When it comes to phones however, I’m strictly an android guy, so don’t ask me how you do that!
Although primarily a recruitment website for both foreigners and English speaking Japanese jobseekers, Gaijinpot has, in recent years, expanded to include both a blog and an occasional podcast. Again, I should say for sake of clarity and fairness, that in addition to my work for Taiken, I also have a weekly blog on Gaijinpot too.
The Gaijinpot Podcast, GPod, is equally worth a listen. Similar in some respects to the Just Japan podcast, each week the host and guests tackle the issues of the day as well as exploring a particular topic of interest. More information can be found here.
YouTube is, these days, said to be something of a cultural wasteland where “any idiot can have a voice”. However, if you can dredge your way through all the effluent, then you will, on occasion, strike gold.
One such diamond in this expansive rough is the weekly show Tokyo Tonight.
Each Sunday evening at around 11pm, join your host Hikosaemon as he looks back at the week in news and current affairs all across Japan. From technology to culture, to politics and lifestyle, Hiko is your guide to all you need to know about the week that was in Japan.
Tokyo Tonight isn’t the only place to find Hikosaemon on You Tube. He has another, equally popular weekly show….
Every Saturday at midnight, Hikosaemon is joined by fellow You Tube personality “Gimmeabreakman” for lively chat, occassionaly heated discussion and a round up of all the weekly issues hitting the headlines across Japan. An interesting mix of guests, variety of different topics and the hosts’ own unique humour give the show a very different, though by no means less entertaining, flavour to Tokyo Tonight.
To make sure you don’t miss the latest editions of 2.5 Oyajis and Tokyo Tonight, be sure to follow the host on twitter @hikosaemon and also look up Hikosaemon’s you tube channel and subscribe.
Of course these are just some of the hundreds of great resources out there to enrich your Japan experience. Hopefully if you’re reading this already, then all these great shows and blogs are just a few short clicks away!