Podcasts That Keep Me Sane in Japan

Basically 90% of the media I consume comes from podcasts. I listen to them from the early morning on, and I am always looking out for interesting audio to fill my earbuds as I attempt to zone out on my morning and afternoon commutes. I mix it up quite a bit, sometimes educational, sometimes a bit of music, some comedy splashed in to keep things interesting, even some DIY. There is literally a podcast for any interest you might have, be it a TV show you are following, a extremely niche music you are into, book club discussions, tutorials, lectures on spirituality, sports shows, even random drunk discussions about nothing particular. My podcast playlist runs the gambit.

Here is my curated list of subscribed podcasts with links to their website:

Hobbies / DIY

The DrakeCast – A mix of guests, stories, fishing reports and more from the writers of The Drake, one of the best fly fishing magazines out there. Not a tutorial podcast, more about the people and places on the water.

TanglePod – Yep, that’s right. A podcast about Zentangle art, my latest artistic pursuit. If you remember the SNL sketch with Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer which mocked NPR radio’s uber non-aggressive style, it’s exactly like that but for real. Calming nevertheless, especially while tangling!

Japan and Japanese

Tofugu – A bit snowflakey in its praise of Japan, so hard to swallow being a long time resident (trust me, Japan isn’t that amazing), but it helps put me back in a positive frame of mind and offers excellent tips and tricks for studying the language. Check out their WaniKani site for some great Kanji practice.


History of The Cold War Podcast – Somewhere along the line I got very interested in the cold war, which led me to the board game Twilight Struggle (another slowly growing obsession), then to the BBC/CNN Cold War documentary series Cold War. This podcast is rather bland but packed with info. Great to fall asleep to dreaming of a nuclear winter!

Linux and FOSS

Linux Lads – Irreverent talk on Linux and FOSS from several Irish folks who aren’t afraid to get colorful with their language.

Late Night Linux – Another colorful Linux show that tells it like it is and doesn’t pull any punches.

Ubuntu Podcast – Not just about the Ubuntu Linux distro but a little bit of everything for like minded Open Source enthusiasts.

Bad Voltage – Three stalwarts of the Linux community get deep into the nitty-gritty with some fascinating debates about technology and modern life.

Linux Unplugged – The linchpin of Jupiter Broadcasting, this news shows comes at you fast and furious once a week.

User Error – Another Jupiter Broadcasting show that gets a little off-kilter at times but always has something interesting to say about the current state of Linux and open source.

Choose Linux – Linux newbies (to some degree) and Jupiter Broadcasting resident curmudgeon Joe Ressington explore Linux with fresh eyes. Distro Challenges are a staple.

The Linux Gaming News Punch – a short ten minute weekly rundown about the latest in Linux gaming.


Fanatic @ 5 – I usually start off my day 14 hours in the past (whoa, time travel dude!) and get caught up with all the happenings from the Philadelphia Sports world.

Gargano & Myrtetus Middays – 4 hours of intense sports debate. Anyplace that thinks they are serious about sports has never been to Philly, where there are two 24 hour radio stations dedicated to sports talk.

Test Match Special Podcast – BBC Radio 5 brings you reviews and analysis from English Cricket. A great companion for a sport that still remains #2 in the world behind football (soccer) with approximately 2.5 billion fans.

The Doosra – Also from the BBC, this cricket podcast focuses exclusively on Asian cricket (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan).

Comedy and Interview

Your Mom’s House – Tom Segura and wife Christina Perzinsky are two comics willing to talk about anything with all types of guests in a rambling 2-3 hours of weekly hilarity.

The Joe Rogan Experience – Really the grandaddy of interview podcasts, Rogan brings in everyone from boxers to nuclear scientists and discusses life’s questions big and small. Not a daily auto-download for me but I keep my eye’s peeled if an interesting guest stops by.

Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast – Just one of the best modern masters of stand-up comedy ranting on for an hour or sometimes two about whatever he has to get off his chest. If once a week isn’t enough for you try the Thursdays Afternoon Monday Morning Podcast (same feed) for even more blunt-force-trauma comedy.

The Doug Stanhope Podcast – If you don’t know who this comic is, YouTube him now, read his books, and then when your good and liquored up on a Friday afternoon allow him and his pals to chat for hours on end about God-knows-what. You’ll be better for it in the morning.


Marc Gunn’s Irish & Celtic Music Podcast – One hour weekly of independent music filled with bagpipes and drinking songs. Really helps to drown out the Japan and goes well with a overpriced can of Guinness.

John’s Old Time Radio Show – Spinning records from Robert Crumb’s record collection directly from his home in the south of France. Hear the needle crackle and pop!

Pod Dylan – This one is for the full on Bob Dylan nerd that lurks in everyone. A single Dylan song, picked apart my the host and a guest, every two weeks. No stone is left unturned, from classics to obscure bootleg B-sides.

The Wheeler Walker Jr. Podcast – The greatest thing to ever happen to country music has a podcast!

The Jazz Treasury – A history of Jazz usually focusing on a specific artists each episode. Brilliant!

Jazz After Dark – An hour of radio Jazz from KDRT, 95.7 FM in Davis, California.

Piano Shorts (NPR) – I could listen to Marian Mcpartland talk to the elite of the Jazz community all day long. Throw in some improvised piano duets to boot!

News and Culture

The Briefing (Monocle) – Daily, hour long news for high brow, pretentious, jet-setters. Tell me about the war in Yemen and then immediately talk about trends in the global yacht marketplace. I consider this more of a fantasy role-play podcast than actual news. It’s also part of an experiment where I have been getting my daily news entirely from this pompous medium.

The New Yorker Radio Hour – Left leaning at times but a decent eclectic mix of politics, literature, music, and all the rest.

TV / Movies

Mission Log – I’m a Star Trek nerd. This podcast analyzes each and every episode of Star Trek, chronologically, starting with the The Original Series. It has already plowed through The Animated Series, The Next Generation, and is now on season three of Deep Space Nine (as of this writing). If that isn’t enough, listen to Mission Log Live, where the host interact with uber Trekkies and nerd boners shoot through the roof.

Transporter Room 3 – Two hollywood insiders go deep into Trek, review episodes and movies, and bring an irreverent vibe to the nerd fest.

Spilling Eve – Killing Eve is one of those shows that completely consumed me. So yeah, I listen to a podcast that recaps every episode. And the recaps are usually a half hour longer than the actual episode!


Well, that’s all for now. There’s quite a few that I left out for brevity sake, but this list is a great starting point for anyone looking to fill up their ears with a dense variety of sounds and ideas. Toodles!

What do you think?