One of the best ways to increase your listening skills and cultural knowledge about Japan is to immerse yourself in the very colorful world of Japanese television dramas.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are spending more time at home and have fewer chances to practice Japanese in real-world situations. It might even be hard to stay motivated during the pandemic. Recently, I’ve reignited my passion for learning Japanese by watching episodes of Nigeru wa hajidaga yakunitatsu (The Full-Time Wife Escapist) after my study sessions.
You’ll learn a lot of vocabulary that relates to relationships, particularly in friendship and in love.
Most dramas are only about an hour-long, so it’s an excellent opportunity for easy listening practice. Keep in mind you’ll either need to use a streaming service in Japan (like Paravi), check your local Japanese video store (like Tsutaya), or travel the high seas (if you know what I mean) to watch these dramas.
In this article, I’ll introduce five of my favorite J-dramas and tell you how you can use them to your advantage when studying Japanese.
1. Tokyo Tarareba Musume
Based on a manga by Akiko Higashimura, I can liken Tokyo Tarareba Musume (東（とう）京（きょう）タラレバ娘（むすめ）, Tokyo ‘What If’ Girls in English) to Sex and the City. The story is about three women in their late 20s to early 30s navigating life and love in Tokyo.
What I like about this show is the simplicity of its premise. It’s easy to understand even without subtitles. As someone confident around the N3 level of the JLPT, I didn’t encounter any difficulty with the character’s choice of vocabulary or grammar.
You’ll learn a lot of vocabulary that relates to relationships, particularly in friendship and in love. The protagonists are likable, and you’ll cheer for them until the last episode—definitely an easy watch.