Dialects in Japan

Dialects in Japan

Update: 25 October 2016

The words "okini" and "dandan" both mean "thank you (arigatou)". The different words used depending on the region are called "dialect"(hougen) In Japanese. Here are some of the main local dialects.

Dialect of Hokkaido

Known as Yezo until the Edo Period, its name was changed to Hokkaido when the Meiji government set up the development commissions there. To give some examples of the dialect of this region, there are distincitve words such as "namara" meaning "very much (totemo)" and "kepparu" meaning "to try hard (gambaru)".

Dialects in the Tohoku region

In the dialect of the Tohoku region, "to get angry (okoru)" is "goshagu", "to touch (sawaru)" is "chosu", and "to be shy with strangers (hitomishirisuru)" is "kameru". They have many words which require much effort to understand even for other Japanese people.

Dialects in the Kanto region

The region of North Kantou consists of Ibaraki Prefecture, Tochigi Prefecture and Gunma Prefecture. In this region, there are lots of simple customs still practiced and abundant nature which are absent the Metropolitan. In the Metropolitan area, the so-called standard Japanese is used. The word "Japanese" generally means the language used in this area.

Dialects in the Shinetsu region

The Shin'etsu region refers to Niigata Prefecture, known for being a major producer of rice, and Nagano Prefecture which has mountainous areas and is nicknamed "the roof of Japan". "~ Zura" is used at the end of a sentence and means "having done ~ (shiteshimatta)". "Ora" means myself. These are examples of the dialect of the Shin'etsu region.

Dialects in the Tokai Region

The Tokai region is the central area of Honshu (the main island of Japan). As a dialect of the Tokai region, Nagoya dialect is well-known. "~dagaya" is used at the end of a statement replacing "~ desuyo", "dera" means very, and "ketta" is a word meaning bicycle. In Shizuoka Prefecture, whose eastern border touches the Kanto region, there is a dialect called Enshuuben in which they say "~ damonde" instead of "~ dakara (because ~)", and "dara" means "isn't it (desho)?".

Dialects in the Hokuriku Region

In the Hokuriku region, there are many tourist spots dotted around reminiscent of the good old Japan including hot springs, terraced rice-fields, and the castle ruins. In Kansai dialect, the "do" in "~ yakedo" meaning "but ~ (~ dakedo)" is short, whereas in Hokuriku they say "~ yakedoo", with an extended "do". This is a characteristic of the Hokuriku dialect.

Dialects in the Kansai region

There is a dialect distinct to this region called kansaiben (Kansai dialect). In it, "Arigatou (thank you)", as mentioned at the start, is "ohkini", "chau" denies something, and "~ yanen" is used to state something (~ nanodesu). In this region you hear lots of rhythmical words.

Dialects in the Chugoku region

There are tourist spots created by traditions from the ancient times and nature scattered throughout this area. They include the Izumo taisha shrine, which is comparable to Isejingu shrine, the Tottori sand dunes, the biggest sand dunes in Japan, and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, the largest city in the Chuugoku region, "~ jaken" is a well-known expression meaning "because ~ (~ dakara)". "Buchi" means "very (totemo)" and "irau" means "to touch (sawaru)". These are also well-known.

Dialects in the Kyushu region

Kyushu is the island located to the south of Honshu. "Nan-bashi-yotto?" is used in this region, instead of "nani-wo-shite-imasu-ka (what are you doing)?" Using "~ ba" in place of "~ wo or ~ ga (words that come a after subject such as am, is, are)",and adding "~ to" to the end of a sentence to replace "~ desune (isn't it)" with "~ tai" are also peculiar to the Kyushu region.

Dialects in the Okinawa region

The Okinawa region used to be an independent country known as the Ryukyu Kingdom until the Meiji Period and has a deeply rooted distinctive culture. "Mensore" is a phrase used to welcome people (irasshaimase). "Wan" indicates yourself and "unju" means you. There are many words like these which are hard for people not from the region to understand.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

Share this article.