Anyone else listen to NHK Japanese Service vis Shortwave Radio?

I had not listened to shortwave radio broadcasts for many years, but on a whim I turned on a portable SW set a few days ago during the evening, and while tuning around I heard a loud signal with spoken Japanese.

It turned out to be an NHK World Radio broadcast. I had been familiar with NHK World (through an app and through the web). I had thought that that service was strictly limited to broadcasting in languages other than Japanese, however I was mistaken. It turns out that NHK does have a Japanese language version of that service.

The program that I listened to started off with five minutes of news, and then shifted to a series of segments that included some interviews, a weather broadcast, some story-reading or back-and-forth discussions between the hosts (some of which may have been intended for children, such as a tale about oni or yokai and demons), and more. The broadcast lasted for two hours.

The pace of the speaking was pretty rapid - I am at about an ‘advanced beginner’ level in my Japanese (around JLPT N4 level) - and I could understand a great deal of the vocabulary, although I do need to practice my listening comprehension at such a rapid conversational pace - I’m thinking that this would be a good source for practice in the future.

Due to the nature of shortwave radio broadcasting, even though it was a very strong signal, there was some fading of the signal (and I have some local powerline noise which also caused some interference). I was using a cheap portable shortwave receiver with just a short telescopic whip antenna - but I do also have more capable shortwave receiving (and transmitting) equipment and antennas which I will try using in the future (since I am a licensed amateur radio operator).

I live in the Eastern United States, and the broadcast frequency that I happened to run across was 6105 kHz (in the 49-meter band), AM. It was broadcast from 9 PM to 11 PM US Eastern time (which is from 0200 to 0400 UTC) - for those of you who may not be familiar with shortwave radio propagation, that time of night and that frequency band are not typically where I would expect to hear a shortwave signal coming directly from Japan.

After a bit of investigation I found out that the signal was being relayed from a powerful broadcast site located in France - and that they were beaming the signal for intended reception in Central America. They do, however, also broadcast from a site in Japan, on different frequencies and at different times, with intended audiences in various regions of the world. I found an official timetable here (scroll down to page 5 for the Japanese service listings):

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/ja/information/brochure/pdf/radio_frequency_schedule.pdf

I have not (yet, anyways) located a website or app where I can listen to the same content that they broadcast on shortwave radio, but I have not yet tried doing an exhaustive search.

(I thought that this info would deserve a thread by itself, but I may link to this thread from one of the other listening threads.)

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Interesting! I might do this if I had a radio. What I do listen to is NHK FM. A VPN is needed for it. Radio is such a undervalued service. :slight_smile:

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I’d be interested in a link to that - I do sometimes use Proton VPN (which has Japanese IP address translation).

I have so far been less than impressed with listing to Japanese radio stations via the ‘radio garden’ world internet radio site, https://radio.garden/browse because it turned out that most of those sites were not actual radio stations broadcasting from Japan.

I have not found a good source of links to domestic Japanese broadcasts that are streaming on the web - but I ought to take some time to see if I can do some searching and produce such a list myself.

Here you go! Mind that you have to be “in Japan” to listen to it. :slight_smile:

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I don’t listen to NHK on radio, but I do watch it on TV on a paid service. They have some really interesting programs.

Are you guys aware of any quality Japanese news broadcast accessible online?
I used to listen to French news to learn, which was very helpful, but I’ve never found anything good for Japanese. Most of them are music channels or podcasts (Nothing wrong with them, I just prefer the news).
The NHK japanese service seems to have one or more broadcasting locations in every continent except for Europe :laughing:

NHK R1 is mostly news, weather, current affairs and so on. As with NHK FM, you’ll need a VPN or proxy in Japan.

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Depending on where you are located in Europe, you might actually be able to hear some of the broadcasts from France that are aimed at other parts of the world (depending also on the frequency band and its propagation characteristics) - for example, the one that I highlighted might be audible elsewhere in Europe, but the 0200 to 0400 UTC broadcast time may not be good for you unless you’re either a night owl or you get up very early in the morning.

If you have access to a shortwave radio receiver, give it a try. If you have some familiarity with shortwave radio, you may also be able to use a “Web SDR” to tune in radio broadcasts over the internet, with receivers located in different areas around the world - for example, I’m reasonably confident that the particular broadcast that I mentioned above can be tuned in on the K3FEF.com web SDR on 6105 kHz AM (during the times that I mentioned - click on the green button to start the audio):

http://k3fef.com:8901/?tune=6105AM

If you hear interference you can try clicking the AM-nrw (narrow bandwidth filter) instead of the AM button to see if that improves your reception.

Right now (as I’m writing this) it’s about 2135 UTC - a quick look at the NHK Japanese Service schedule shows broadcasts from Japan aimed at SE Asia on 11630 kHz and aimed at the Asian continent on 11910 kHz - neither of those are particularly promising for an SDR located in the eastern US (and the K3FEF.com web SDR doesn’t like those frequencies for whatever reason) - but perhaps you could find a web SDR located in one of those areas of interest that can tune in to the NHK broadcasts.

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Got my VPN set up on my Amazon Fire 10" Android tablet, started listening to R1 - and the current program is playing Beatles music… (I like the Beatles, so no problem). I can understand the announcer reasonably well. I will spend some time listening, thanks.

At the moment it’s something like 2 AM in Japan, so all that I’m hearing on the FM channel was a continuous tone.

I see that there is a NHK radio app “RADIRU*RADIRU” for listening to the NHK radio channels - it may be region-restricted, though. I’m not sure yet whether or not I will be able to install it (the Google Play Store app is not normally supported on the amazon tablet, I had previously “side-loaded” it - but I don’t know whether or not it will let me load that app. However I was able to load the “NHK for School” app, which is apparently not region restricted, and I will be checking that out soon.

Last night I did listen to the shortwave broadcast on 6105 kHz through the K3FEF.com link that I posted above, and it was pretty easy to listen to.

Apparently that broadcast has some content focused on/at children as part of every show - and they also have some musical content.

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Thanks @finnra and @servette for your replies! I’m afraid I don’t have a radio, maybe I’ll try and get one, though I’m in Denmark, reasonably far away from France. As for the VPN, I’ve been meaning to get one for quite some time, I just always hesitate because of the money. Maybe doing it in the name of learning instead of paranoia will push me over to finally getting it.

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You could usr TunnelBear as VPN, it’s trivial to set up and it comes with some free data each month (I think it’s 1 GB by now, which is not enough to watch a full movie, but you can try out some things and see whether a paid option would be worthwhile for you.)

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Bought a portable radio 3 years back and got a lot of good listening practice out of it.