Watching TV and films either with Japanese subtitles or without subtitles is great for learning Japanese, but what do you do if you want to practice listening with no visual context, a la the JLPT?
I already listen to Japanese Pod 101’s audio blogs and lower/upper-intermediate lessons, but I wanted something with a higher quantity of advanced content. I searched Japanese iTunes for some language-learning podcasts, but, さすが、they were all for learning English! So I thought that perhaps I’d just listen to a regular Japanese podcast.
There’s a radio program broadcast by Tokyo FM on Saturday evenings called Suntory Saturday Waiting Bar Avanti (『サントリー・サタデー・ウェイティング・バーAVANTI』), the premise of which is an hour of conversations on a theme at the standing bar. The podcast version of the show is much shorter and starts with host DAN Shinya ordering a drink, usually a high ball, from Stan, the American bartender. He and the bartender begin chatting about something—the weather, the drink, or the news—and then he remembers a conversation he had with someone. The podcast turns to an interview/conversation with a novelist, actor, musician, academic, or other interesting person.
The AVANTI podcast is great for listening to short natural conversations in Japanese. The topics are quite varied—bicycle racing, coral reefs, Proust and memory, the Abrahamic religions, American food. This podcast will be most useful for those studying for the N1 level of the JLPT. It might be handy to have a dictionary on hand for your second listen in case you get one of the more intellectual or scientific ones, but most of them are directed at your average listener.
The radio show itself is about an hour long with commercials, but the downloadable podcast is only 8-15 minutes of one of the conversations held in the bar. You can also read about the interviewees and topics on Avanti’s blog.
The podcast is free—just sign up on the Japanese iTunes store and bypass the request for credit card information; download directly from the website; or subscribe to the webradio YouTube channel. Tune in to the hour-long radio show on Saturday nights on FM Ishikawa (80.5) from 17:00-17:55.
Leah Zoller is a second-year CIR and the editor of this blog. 「スタン、ハイボールをもう一杯！」