30 useful tips for travel in Japan
- A Quick Introduction to Kansai Dialect
- It's Honma Different from Tokyo!
- Standard Japanese is what everyone learns in school, but each region - even down to some cities - have variations in the way they speak Japanese. Kansai-ben - meaning Kansai dialect - is one of the most prominent regional dialects. It is more lilting and melodious - to my mind - than standard Japanese. Here are some Kansai-specific words you might hear during your travels in West Japan:
Ookini - mainly used by older shopkeepers in place of 'arigatou gozaimasu' or 'thank you'
Maido - literally meaning 'each time,' as in 'thank you each time for your continued patronage'
Honma - the Kansai version of 'honto' or 'really'
Akan - used in place of 'ikenai', meaning 'no good' or 'forbidden'
Chau de - an abbreviation of the standard 'chigau yo' meaning 'wrong/different'
- More seasoned learners of the Japanese language will eventually be able to distinguish between Osaka-ben and Kyoto-ben. In general, Kyoto-ben is considered more ‘refined’ and elegant; the gentle-sounding polite verb ending ‘teharu’ which is primarily used in Kyoto only contributes to this perception. Osaka-ben, on the other hand, is has a warmer, friendlier feel to it, with a rough edge reflecting the vibrancy and energy of the city. It’s also often spoken at high speed, which is what you hear in famous o-warai (comedy) shows on TV.
Some Japanese people, irritated by the success of Kansai dialect on television, look down on Kansai-ben, calling it uncouth. Oftentimes Japanese people moving to Tokyo from the countryside will attempt to adopt the Tokyo accent and hide their regional accents. However, Kansai people - especially Osakans - are usually quite proud of their dialect and will speak it wherever they are!