Culture From The Couch: All About Japan

Culture From The Couch: All About Japan
A traditional Japanese sumi-e painting Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Here’s all you can watch, read and listen to that goes beneath the surface of Japan

Roshni Subramanian
April 05 , 2020
05 Min Read

A country steeped in culture and tradition that dates back thousands of years, Japan is a bucket lister’s paradise. Consistently in a state of rapid flux, the country embraces its ancient past while at the same time spearheading a futuristic technology. If you’re looking for a culture and experience like no other, then the buck stops right here in this eastern beauty. But with the global pandemic’s crippling blow to the travel industry, a vacation to Japan is off the table for now. Well, here’s something that can bring the best of Japan right to your living rooms. Check out our list of podcasts, travelogues and travel shows that will fill you in on all things Japanese.

Japan Eats

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Offering an abundance of gastronomical delights, Japanese cuisine is an integral  part of the country’s culture. From sushi, ramen to unagi and tempura, the flavours of Japan are hard to resist. The Japan Eats podcast will tell you about real Japanese food and food culture. Brainchild of Akiko Katayama, a New York-based food critic and writer, the podcast delves into Japan’s acclaimed culinary culture. The show often features guests from various fields including sake producers, American chefs and even food scientists who push the envelope of Japanese cuisine.

A Short History Of Japan

Japanese samurai and geishas

This one’s for the history fanatics. Focussing on people, power play, politics and betrayal, the podcast tells the tales of early Japan. Ranging from prehistoric events to happenings that shaped present day society, the show is an insight into the interesting aspects of the culture, warfare and literature. Creator Cameron Foster not only talks about travelling in Japan, the ancient era but also provides facts on the end of samurai. Offering both information and entertainment, this history podcast is ideal for fans of history, fans of Japan and tourists looking to explore the obscure aspects of the country. 

Rice Noodle And Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture

A mix of in-depth narrative and insider’s advice, Matt Goulding’s travelogue presents a glorious account of his culinary travels throughout the country. His deep appreciation for food and culture is reflected in his advice on how to get the most out of your visit, his profiling of celebrated chefs, and his recommendation of must-visit ramen places. The treavelogue not only offers readers an immersive experience but also decodes the long and arduous journey of legendary ramen shops, tempura temples and tea houses of Japan. Not a guidebook in its typical sense, the author interweaves a narrative that encapsulates food journalism and intimate portraits of Japanese cities and districts

The Lady And The Monk: Four Seasons In Kyoto

Pico Iyer’s lyrical account of his year in Kyoto briefly recounts his time in a monastery, learnings about zen Buddhism, and an insider’s view of what goes on in and around Kyoto. A refreshing change from the world of business and production lines, Iyer’s memoir portrays Japan as a land of timeless traditions. Gracefully and evocatively, he offers an anecdotal reportage of Americans' quest in the east. With the intention of exploring both the phlegmatic and emotional temperaments of the country, he debunks several preconceived notions about this island nation.


If you're looking for something to binge-watch this week, we’d suggest dabbling into the good old world of YouTube. Here’s our pick that will keep your mind off the current crisis and might teach you a thing or two about Japan. 

Life Where I'm From

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Created by Canadian Youtibe Greg Lam, who resides in Tokyo with his Japanese wife and children, this YouTube channel provides an interesting and entertaining insight into the everyday aspects of life in Japan. The videos predominantly feature Greg’s daughter Aiko and his son Shintaro. With topics ranging from using Japanese vending machines to what a Japanese breakfast looks like, the channel is devoted to celebrating daily life in the country. 

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