Hey everyone, it’s John from the Japan Show Podcast. I’ve just gotten back from a LOVELY weekend in Tohoku, exploring Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. I’ll put up a proper piece about that in the near future (audio included!), but first, I’d like to address something that happened quite some time ago.
Some time ago, I got connected with a guy named Isao Tokuhashi. He’s the host of My Eyes Tokyo, a bilingual weekly radio talk show that’s broadcasted on Chuo FM, 84.0 Mhz in Tokyo. I bold “bilingual” for a very good reason. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing bilingual stand-up comedy, in English and Japanese, or at least partially both. The idea is to make the language not really the important part; make it so the audience gets you and the joke. That’s not nearly as hard in a stand-up atmosphere; you’ve got your whole body to tell the story. However, for a radio show, I had to wonder how it actually worked, and whether the audience actually got the whole story. Usually, the show is hosted by Isao and two co-hosts; those two are more or less fluent in English. Isao speaks entirely in Japanese (well, 95% on average), and the co-hosts speak almost entirely in English.
For those of you who don’t live here in Japan or who aren’t exactly up on Japanese talk radio, here’s the primer:
1) Talk radio’s presence in Japan is fairly insignificant. Most radio in Japan is music, with light music-related conversation on the side. That’s true in the States as well, but the proportions are skewed to an even greater degree in favor of music-based radio.
2) Talk radio in Japan is usually very light, in line with its more visual counterpart. TV shows in Japan usually don’t dig terribly deep or into very controversial territory (for Japanese citizens), except maybe for extreme examples like this: “Japanese TV show invokes Hitler as a motivator (via CNNGo)” Leaving that particular show aside, a lot of “talk” TV here may be very informative in some instances (Reggae-man and activist Rankin Taxi, a very grounded and self-aware man, says he feels NHK’s educational TV is fairly well done), but rarely steps on any toes. Radio follows suit.
3) Subject matter on informative radio and TV is usually about some quirky but harmless aspect of Japan or another country.
Having an inkling of what was going on in general, I thought about toning down the usual attitude on The Japan Show, which at times can be caustic, and bringing a bit more of a fresh face to My Eyes Tokyo (MET). I did feel a little out of place though, even though I enjoyed recording.
Back to the bilingual issue, it turns out that Isao gets co-hosts to repeat important information, such as upcoming events and the like, in English. The back and forth between host and co-host(s) I think isn’t completely lost on the audience even though it’s in two different languages. I’ll let you judge for yourself. If you check the link below, you can have a listen to the episode we recorded.
Thanks to Isao Tokuhashi for the opportunity.