Dec 20

JQ Magazine: NHK World, Your 24-Hour Guide to Japan

Pop singer and model Yun*chi  and DJ Taku Takahashi of m-flo with Domo, NHK World’s mascot, at Waku Waku +NYC in Brooklyn, Aug. 2015. The performers are frequent guests of NHK World’s pop music TV show J-MELO, Japan’s only music program recorded entirely in English. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for NHK WORLD TV)

Pop singer and model Yun*chi and DJ Taku Takahashi of m-flo with Domo, NHK’s mascot, at Waku Waku +NYC in Brooklyn, Aug. 2015. The performers are frequent guests of NHK World’s J-MELO, Japan’s only music program recorded entirely in English. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for NHK WORLD TV)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at

You surely watched NHK while you were living in Japan. Whether you understood the content was another story, of course. But with the right cable provider, you might be able to enjoy Japan in a way that you were unable to during your JET days, thanks to NHK World.

NHK World serves as the organization’s international broadcast service and features English-language programming devoted to Japanese news, sports, cuisine and culture. Even if your cable provider doesn’t have NHK World, the network streams all of its programming around the clock on its official website, and you can also download their apps to your smartphone or tablet.

What might you see on NHK World? Here are five programs that could tickle your fancy:

Sports Japan

Hosted by Ayako Kisa, Sports Japan has profiled not only sports traditionally associated with Japan, such as sumo and kendo—and those not-so-traditionally associated with Japan, like beach soccer and unicycling. Episodes of Sports Japan broadcast highlights from a certain competition in the featured sport while Kisa interviews a journalist or prominent figure in that sport, such as Alexander Bennett (the coach of New Zealand’s national kendo team and editor-in-chief of Kendo World) in a recent episode devoted to kendo. The program is a fascinating look into what sports are practiced in Japan and who could emerge as the country’s next elite athletes.

Dining with the Chef

Looking to expand your washoku repertoire? Thirty minutes of Dining with the Chef might do the trick. As indicated by the title, the program introduces viewers to a diverse selection of Japanese dishes, such as umami-simmered taro and beef and taro and beef croquettes in an episode hosted by Yu Hayami and Tatso Saito. If you think the dishes you see prepared on TV are oishiso and you would like to join in the fun of making them, you’re in luck: ingredients to all featured dishes are listed. And another fun aspect of the show is fascinating trivia about Japanese food.

Tokyo Eye 2020

Five years from now, Tokyo will welcome the world for a certain five-ringed spectacle. If you’d like to learn more about the capital, check out Tokyo Eye 2020, which takes a sneak peek at how the city is remaking itself in time for the big event. Hosted by Chris Peppler, Tokyo Eye 2020 often takes readers to some commonly known sections of the capital, such as Shibuya, Akasaka and Meguro. But the series might introduce you to places in town that might have you thinking, “That’s in Tokyo?” such as Shikinejima and Niijima, which were profiled in a recent episode of Tokyo Eye 2020. Host Lisa Wallin toured the two islands and highlighted locales such as Habushiura Beach in Niijima and onsen on both islands. Like any good travel show, Tokyo Eye 2020 highlights the contributions of locals—indeed, residents of both islands working in tourism were interviewed, with Niijima in particular working to attract more foreign visitors.

Japanology Plus

Hosted by Peter Barakan, Japanology Plus serves as a 101 to a certain aspect of Japanese culture, whether it be the Shinkansen, sushi or taiko. Even for those who have spent a lot of time in Japan, the series can be quite informative. A recent episode of Japanology Plus examined the different sorts of housing in Tokyo. With the help of Noriyoshi Suzuki, a researcher on housing in Japan, Barakan illustrates the variety of Tokyo abodes as he showcased apartments, dormitories, detached houses and terraced houses that you might see in the capital. In a sense, that episode of Japanology Plus felt like an episode of Cribs as the viewers got an inside look at what might be in a Japanese house. Regardless of what an episode of Japanology Plus is devoted to, it will surely be an interesting peek into things you thought you knew in Japan.

Journeys in Japan

Last month, NHK World devoted more than 70 programs to Hokkaido. In turn, Journeys in Japan, a regular program on the network, profiled the Hokkaido city of Otaru as part of its So Hokkaido! series. Host Akane Nakajima takes viewers to Otaru, a city located 1,000 kilometers north of Tokyo and known for canals and glassware. In the episode, she makes glass with the assistance of an artisan, visits the Otaru Museum and meets some prominent residents in Japan, including the owner of a guesthouse that has attracted a large number of foreign visitors. Many of us who did the JET Program lived in small- or medium-sized locales we had never heard of prior to doing JET, yet we ended up being charmed by those places. You might likewise be charmed by the places you see on Journeys in Japan.

Visit NHK World’s YouTube page here.

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