Post Reply Dialect
Posted 12/12/08

Eastern Japanese

Hokkaidō Dialect

The residents of Hokkaidō Prefecture are (relatively) recent arrivals from all parts of Japan, and this combination of influences has resulted in a set of regionalisms sometimes called Hokkaidō-ben. Hokkaidō-ben appears to have been influenced most significantly by Tōhoku-ben, not surprising due to Hokkaidō's geographic proximity to northeastern Honshū. Characteristics of Hokkaidō-ben include speech that contains fewer gender-specific differences, a rich vocabulary of regionalisms, and alternatives to "desu". There is a tendency toward rapid, abbreviated speech patterns, as is not uncommon in other rural areas of Japan. Overall, Hokkaidō-ben is not dramatically different from what is called standard Japanese. Most native speakers of Hokkaidō-ben can easily switch to standard Japanese when the situation calls for it. However, Hokkaidō-ben is different enough that the prepared ear has an advantage in understanding it.

Here are some examples of words and phrases common in Hokkaidō that are less common in standard Japanese:

* dabe—isn't it (desho)
* (tebukuro o) haku—to wear (gloves), using the verb traditionally reserved for shoes
* sa—often used instead of ne (final particle soliciting confirmation or agreement)
o dabe sa—(roughly) indeed, isn't it? (desho ne)
* shibareru—to be freezing cold (as the weather), to freeze hard
* namara—very
* kowai —to be tough (as work, etc.), to be tiring > "I am tired" (cognate with Standard Japanese kowai meaning "scary")
* (gomi o) nageru—to discard (trash), literally, "to throw" trash
* waya—dreadful
* futtsuku—to stick (to), to adhere (to)
* tekkurikaeru—to stumble and fall (while skiing, etc.)
* bakuru—to swap, to trade
* hankakusai—to be foolish
* zangi—fried chicken nuggets
* dosanko—Hokkaidō native for three or more generations

Tōhoku Dialect

Tōhoku-ben is spoken in Tōhoku, the Northeastern region of Honshū. Toward the northern part of Honshū, Tōhoku-ben can differ so dramatically from standard Japanese that it is sometimes rendered with subtitles. It is considered by some Southern inhabitants of Japan to be a slow and "clumsy" dialect with connotations of dawdling or idleness.

A notable linguistic feature of Tōhoku-ben is its neutralization of the high vowels /i/ and /u/, so that the words sushi, susu (soot), and shishi (lion) are rendered homophonous, where they would have been distinct in other dialects. It is for this reason, in addition to the tendency of Tōhoku dialect speakers to draw out their vowels, that Tōhoku-ben is somewhat pejoratively referred to as "Zūzū-ben".

In addition, all unvoiced stops become voiced intervocalically, rendering the pronunciation of the word "kato" (trained rabbit) as [kado]. However, unlike the high vowel neutralization, this does not result in new homophones, as all voiced stops are pre-nasalized, meaning that the word "kado" (corner) is roughly pronounced [kando]. This is particularly noticeable with the "g" sound, which is nasalized sufficiently that it sounds very much like the English "ng" as in "thing", with the stop of the hard "g" almost entirely lost.

Some words and phrases common in Tōhoku (and generally, also in Hokkaidō) that are less common in standard Japanese include:

* -be or -bē - as volitional suffix
o ~dabe? - right?
o abe - let's go (polite)
* o-ban desu - good evening (pronounced "oban dezū")
* menkoi - cute
* igisupe - let's go
* nepute - I am sleepy
* neppe - let's go to sleep
* iine - okay
* oksaki su su - see you later
* n'demada - see you later
* hon de - see you later
* omyounichi - see you tomorrow
* kekkara - I'm going home
* gaotta - I'm tired (impolite)
* gotttsosama - thank you for the meal
* ~dacchya - right?
* sa - used in place of the standard ni or e (particle indicating direction)
* ora - I/me (male)
* adashi - I/me (female)
* odottsan - father
* ogattsan - mother

Kinds of Tōhoku-ben

* North Tohoku
o Tsugaru-ben (Wastern of Aomori)
o Nambu-ben (Eastern of Aomori)
o Shimokita-ben (Northeastern of Aomori)
o Iwate-ben (North)
+ Morioka-ben (Morioka city)
o Akita-ben
o Shonai-ben (Northwestern of Yamagata)

* South Tohoku
o Sendai-ben (Miyagi)
o Iwate-ben (South)
+ Kesen-ben or Kesen language (Southeastern of Iwate)
o Murayama-ben or Yamagata-ben (Center of Yamagata)
o Okitama-ben or Yonezawa-ben (Southern of Yamagata)
o Mogami-ben or Shinjo-ben (Northeastern of Yamagata)
o Fukushima-ben
+ Fushima-ben (Center of Fukushima)
+ Aizu-ben (Western of Fukushima)


Tsugaru-ben is spoken in Tsugaru district (western of Aomori prefecture). Tsugaru-ben is famous that too unique for unnative to understand even people living in same prefecture. In 1988, Tsugaru-ben fan fixed October 23 as "Tsugaru-ben Day".

Some words in Tsugaru-ben

* wa - I, formal first person pronoun
* na - you, formal second person pronoun
* ome - you, informal second person pronoun
* katcha - mother
* totcha - father
* anzumashii - it feels nice, comfortable
* waiha - oh!
* dondanzu - oh my god!
* maine - no way
* honzunashi - idiot, stupid
* joppari - obstinate person
* hande - because
* hebana - goodbye

Kantō Dialect

Kantō-ben has some common features to Tohoku dialect such as "-be" or "-nbe", East Kanto dialect is especially similar to Tohoku dialect. Tokyo and the suburbs' local dialects are steadily declining because Standard Japanese has spread in Kanto earlier than other districts.

Kinds of Kanto dialect

* West Kanto
o Tokyo-ben
+ Yamanote-kotoba (Old upper class dialect)
+ Shitamachi-kotoba or Edo-ben (Old working class dialect)
o Tama-ben (Western of Tokyo)
o Saitama-ben
+ Chichibu-ben
o Gunma-ben or Jōshū-ben
o Kanagawa-ben
o Bōshū-ben (Southern of Chiba)
* East Kanto
o Ibaraki-ben
o Tochigi-ben
o Chiba-ben


Ibaraki dialect, Ibaraki-ben, is characterized by dakuten insertion, effecting a voiced syllable. For example, byōki, illness, becomes something like byōgi. Also characteristic of Ibaraki-ben in many areas is a decreased distinction between i and e sounds, so that iro enpitsu becomes ero inpitsu among many speakers. The final particles ppe, be, and he are perhaps most well-known. They derive from literary beshi (now beki in standard Japanese). The pitch accent of Ibaraki dialect is also fairly different from standard Japanese, typically rising at the end of statements and falling in questions. Below are a few words which are rather ubiquitous among speakers of the Ibaraki dialect:

* anme—related to literary aru mai, and to nai darō in standard Japanese, meaning "(I suppose) not". Its opposite is appe, from aru and ppe
* arutte—walking (instead of aruite)
* daiji—daijōbu in standard Japanese, meaning "alright", and unrelated to the identically-pronounced standard word for "important"
* dere(suke)—lazy foolish person
* goja((ra)ppe)—silly foolish person
* medo—hole
* -me—suffix for small animals (e.g. hē-me, "fly"; kan-me, "turtle"); used differently from the abusive -me in standard Japanese
* odome—child


The speech of modern Tokyo is often considered to equate standard Japanese (hyōjungo), though in fact Tokyo dialect differs from hyōjungo in a number of areas. Noticeable earmarks of Tokyo dialect include the frequent use of さ (sa, roughly analogous to "like" as used in American English slang), じゃん (jan, a contraction of じゃないか ja nai ka, "Isn't that right?", jan is originally Shizuoka and Kanagawa dialects' word) and つう (tsuu) in place of -と言う (— to iu, "to say —" or "is called —"). It is also not uncommon for Tokyo dialect to change the -いる (-iru) stem of the present progressive to -ん (-n), as in つってんのー (tsutten nō, "[someone] is saying") versus と言っているのよ (to itte iru no yo) of standard Japanese.

Edo-ben or Shitamachi-kotoba, the fast-fading dialect of old families from Eastern Tokyo called "Shitamachi" (This means "low-lying towns") , is another example of a Tokyo dialect that differs from standard Japanese. This dialect is primarily known for the inability to pronounce or distinguish some phonemes which are considered wholly distinct in all other Japanese dialects. Most famous is the decreased distinction between "hi" and "shi", so that "hidoi" (terrible) becomes "shidoi", and "shichi" (seven) becomes "hichi". Though it also includes a few distinctive words, today it is largely indistinguishable from the standard speech of Tokyo other than the phonemic difference.

Tōkai-Tōsan Dialect

Tokai-Tosan dialect is separated into three groups: Nagano-Yamanashi-Shizuoka, Echigo and Gifu-Aichi.


* Nagano-ben or Shinshū-ben
o Okushin (Northernmost of Nagano)
o Hokushin (Northern of Nagano)
o Tōshin (Eastern of Nagano)
o Chūshin (Center of Nagano)
o Nanshin (Southern of Nagano)
* Izu-ben (Eastern of Shizuoka)
* Shizuoka-ben (Center of Shizuoka)

ikai—ookii in standard Japanese, "big"
ora—ore "I" (masculine language)
ganko—sugoku or takusan "very" "a lot"
nukutoi—atatakai "warm"
yakkoi—yawarakai "flexible" "soft"

* Enshū-ben (Western of Shizuoka)
* Kōshū-ben (Yamanashi)


Echigo is Niigata Prefecture except Sado Island.

* Niigata-ben (Around of Niigata city)
* Nagaoka-ben (Center of Niigata)
* Jōetsu-ben (Wastern of Niigata)
* Uonuma-ben (Southern of Niigata)


* Mino-ben (Southern of Gifu)
* Hida-ben (Northern of Gifu)

* Owari-ben (Western of Aichi)
o Nagoya-ben
o Chita-ben
* Mikawa-ben (Eastern of Aichi)
o West Mikawa
o East Mikawa


Nagoya-ben is a dialect spoken in and around the city of Nagoya. It is similar to Kansai-ben in intonation, but to Tokyo-ben in accent. Instead of "shitte iru?" Nagoya residents will say "shittoru?" They attach unique suffixes to the end of sentences: "-gaya" when surprised, "-te" for emphasis, "-ni" to show off one's knowledge, and "-dekan" for disappointment. Some Nagoya words: "ketta" for "jitensha", "tsukue o tsuru" to 'move a desk', "dera-" or "dora-" for "sugoi" or "tottemo". A Tokyo resident: "Sou ni kimatteru janai" Nagoya resident: "Sou ni kimattoru gaya". "Gan" is not typical Nagoya-ben. It is rather slang used by the younger Nagoya residents.


Mikawa-ben is spoken in the east half of Aichi prefecture while Nagoya-ben is in the west half. The two dialects are very similar for people from other areas of Japan. But Mikawa and Nagoya people claim that the dialects are completely different. Mikawa people also claim that Mikawa-ben is the basis of Tokyo Japanese because it was made up in Edo period by Samurai from this area.

Hachijō Dialect

A small group of dialects spoken on a couple of islands south of Tokyo. Usually Hachijō Dialect is regarded as an independent "root branch" itself for its unique characteristics, especially the abundance of inherited ancient Japanese features, in spite of its small population.

Western Japanese

The dialects of western Japan have some common features that are markedly different from standard Japanese. Of course, not all dialects in western Japan use these features, but some extend from Kinki to Kyushu, sometimes even Okinawa. Some examples are おる (oru) instead of いる (iru), じゃ (ja) or や (ya) instead of だ (da), and the negative form ん (n) as in 行かん (ikan) (行かない (ikanai) in standard Japanese). These features are sometimes derived from Old Japanese.

Hokuriku Dialect

Kinds of Hokuriku dialect

* Kaga-ben (Southern of Ishikawa)
o Kanazawa-ben (Around of Kawanazawa city)
* Noto-ben (Northern of Ishikawa)
* Toyama-ben or Etchū-ben
* Fukui-ben (Northern of Fukui)
* Sado-ben (An island of Niigata)


Toyama-ben is spoken in Toyama Prefecture. Instead of the standard, shitte imasuka? or colloquial shitte iru? for "Do you know?" Toyama-ben speakers will say, shittorukke? Other regional distinctions include words like kitokito for fresh and delicious.

Other distinctions include the negative past tense being formed differently from standard Japanese as follows:

* Standard Japanese: konakatta (did not come) Toyama-ben: konda (did not come)
* Standard Japanese: inakatta (was not) Toyama-ben: oranda (was not) (n.b.,Toyama-ben uses "oru" instead of "iru" to express "existence")
* Standard Japanese: tabenakatta (did not eat) Toyama-ben: tabenda (did not eat)
* Standard Japanese: shinakatta (did not do) Toyama-ben: senda (did not do)

The distinction made is that the negative past tense in Toyama-ben is formed by adding to the stem of the verb the "nu" suffix, indicating a negative, followed by a "da" indicating the past tense or completed action. "Nu" becomes "n".


Fukui-ben is the dialect of The northern part of Fukui Prefecture. Speakers of Fukui-ben tend to talk in an up-and-down, sing-songy manner. It is considered a relatively rural dialect, yet it is not without its own rough, home-spun elegance.

Examples of Fukui-ben include:

* hoya hoya, meaning hai (yes) or so so (that is true)
* mmmmm-do, instead of ē-to (let's see, or well)
* tsuru tsuru, meaning "very" or "a lot" (as in, "tsuru tsuru ippai" or this glass is very full, almost overflowing)
* jami jami describes poor reception on a TV. The usual term is suna arashi "sandstorm"
* hayo shine-ma is a way of telling someone to "hurry up" (However, hayo shine in Standard Japanese is a way of telling someone to "die now")

Kinki (Kansai) Dialect

Kansai-ben (関西弁) is a dialect spoken in the Kansai region of Japan. Kansai-ben features a number of regional differences: to draw a broad generalization, Osaka-ben can be considered "brash", Kyoto-ben "lilting" and Kobe-ben "melodious".

Kinds of Kansai dialect

* Kyōto-ben or Kyō-kotoba
o Gosho-kotoba (Old Kyoto Gosho dialect)
o Muromachi-kotoba (Old marchant dialect of central Kyōto)
o Gion-kotoba (Geiko dialect of Gion)
* Ōsaka-ben
o Semba-kotoba (Old merchant dialect of central Ōsaka)
o Kawachi-ben (Eastern of Ōsaka)
o Senshū-ben (Southern of Ōsaka)
* Kōbe-ben
* Nara-ben or Yamato-ben
o Oku-yoshino (Southernmost of Nara)
* Tamba-ben (Center of Kyoto and Eastcenter of Hyogo)
o Maizuru-ben (Northeastern of Kyoto)
* Banshū-ben (Southwestern of Hyogo)
* Shiga-ben or Ōmi-ben
* Kishū-ben or Wakayama-ben (Wakayama and southernmost of Mie)
o Shingū (Southeastern of Wakayama)
* Mie-ben
o Ise-ben (Center of Mie)
o Shima-ben (Eastern of Mie)
o Iga-ben (Western of Mie)
* Wakasa-ben (Southern of Fukui)


Ōsaka-ben belongs to the Kansai family of dialects. The terminology is confusing, as people often use Kansai-ben interchangeably with Ōsaka-ben. Even those in the know may confuse true Ōsaka-ben with Kansai-ben. Some examples include the usage of で (de) as a sentence final particle, and あかん (akan) which means だめ (dame) or いけない (ikenai) in standard Japanese.


Kyōto-ben or Kyō-kotoba is a soft and melodic Kansai variant. Traditional Kyoto dialect uses -taharu or -teharu (e.g. nani shitaharu no?) in its sentence endings, though -yasu and -dosu are also common. See Kansai-ben for more. To end a verb in -taharu is also often considered to be more formal and is almost exclusively used by women. Ending a verb in -taaru is said to have the same effect but usable by men, though it is not very common. The equivalent of standard Japanese's irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) is oideyasu (おいでやす) in Kyoto-ben.


Kōbe-ben is notable among Kansai dialects for conjugating the present progressive with the verb ending -ton or -tō. For example, while the phrase "What are you doing?" in standard (and casual) Japanese would be Nani shite iru? in Kōbe-ben it would be Nani shiton? or Nani shitō?. Like Ōsaka-ben, Kōbe-ben uses the inflectional ねん (nen) to add emphasis, such that 何言っているんだよ (Nani itteirundayo, "What (the heck) are you saying?") of standard Japanese could become 何ゆうとんねん (Nani yuuton'nen) in Kōbe-ben.

Chūgoku Dialect

Kinds of Chūgoku dialect

* Hiroshima-ben (Western of Hiroshima)
* Bungo-ben (Eastern of Hiroshima)
o Fukuyama-ben
* Okayama-ben
* Yamaguchi-ben
* Iwami-ben (Western of Shimane)
* Tottori-ben (Eastern of Tottori)
* Tajima-ben (Northern of Hyogo)
* Tango-ben (Northernmost of Kyoto)


Hiroshima-ben is regarded as a very manly sounding dialect[citation needed]. That is to say, tough and hard. Common variations include じゃ (ja) instead of だ (da), の (no) instead of ね (ne), and like Kyushu it uses けん (ken) instead of から (kara). Putting them together, じゃけんの (jakenno) is often applied to the end of sentences instead of だ (da) or です (desu), even though the meaning of じゃけん (jaken) is literally だから (dakara).


Yamaguchi-ben contains more yōons and diphthongs compared to other dialects in Japan. Above all, the consonant "ch" is frequently used. ちょる (choru) is often used instead of ている (te iru) in standard Japanese, and ちゃ (cha) is also used instead of the standard だ (da).

Umpaku Dialect

"Umpaku" means "Izumo (Eastern of Shimane) and Hoki (Western of Tottori)".

Kinds of Umpaku dialect

* Izumo-ben (Eastern of Shimane)
* Yonago-ben (Western of Tottori)


Izumo-ben, unique from both southern Shimane's Iwami-ben and Tottori-ben to the east, is a very thick dialect that superficially resembles Tohoku dialects and is thus also called "Zuu zuu ben". The most representative expressions from Izumo-ben include だんだん (dan-dan) to mean thank you, ちょんぼし (chonboshi) in place of すこし (sukoshi) and 晩じまして (banjimashite) as a greeting used an hour before or after sunset. けん (ken) is used in place of から (kara), even by younger speakers. ごす (gosu) is used in place of くれる (kureru) and おる (oru) is used in non-humble speech as in much of western Japan.

Shikoku Dialect

Kinds of Shikoku dialect

* Tokushima-ben or Awa-ben
* Kagawa-ben or Sanuki-ben
* Iyo-ben (Ehime)
* Kōchi-ben or Tosa-ben
o Hata-ben (Westernmost of Kochi)


Iyo-ben is spoken in Ehime prefecture and is similar to Hiroshima-ben and other dialects in its use of けん (ken) for から (kara) ("because") and おる (oru) (and derivatives) for いる (iru). Some unique features of Iyo-ben include the use of が (ga) to replace the inquisitive か (ka), わい (wai) as a sentence-final particle similar to よ (yo), and more limited regional variations such as 〜てや (teya) for 〜だよ (dayo) (particular to Yawatahama).

何しよるが? (nani shiyoru ga?) What are you doing?

そうてや! (sou te ya) Yeah, that's right!

Hōnichi Dialect

"Honichi" means "Buzen (Eastern of Fukuoka and Northern of Oita), Bungo (Southern of Oita) and Hyuga (Miyazaki)".

Kinds of Hōnichi dialect

* Kitakyūshū-ben
* Ōita-ben
* Miyazaki-ben


Miyazaki is most noted for its intonation, which is very different from that of standard Japanese. At times it can even seem to employ the opposite (inverse) pattern of intonation.

Miyazaki dialect shares similarities with other Kyūshū dialects such as:

と(to) replacing the question particle か(ka)

Examples of Miyazaki dialect include;

* っけ (kke) instead of the standard か (ka) in a forming a question.
* テゲ (tege) as opposed to とても (totemo) very (this word seems to be a borrowed-word from 大概(taigai, almost or ordinarily).
* サミ (sami) as opposed to さむい (samui) cold
* こせん (kosen) as opposed to でしょう (deshou) -isn't it?

今日はテゲサミこせん (Kyō wa tege sami kosen): Today's really cold, isn't it?

* じゃがじゃが (jagajaga) That's right

The present continuous て(い)る (te(i)ru) being replaced by おと(oto)

何しょとっけ? (nani shoto kke?) What are you doing?

東京にいっちょると? (Tokyo ni icchoruto?) You're going to Tokyo?

Hichiku Dialect

"Hichiku" means "Hizen (Saga and Nagasaki), Higo (Kumamoto), Chikuzen (Eastern of Fukuoka) and Chikugo (Southern of Fukuoka)"

Kinds of Hichiku dialect

* Hakata-ben (Fukuoka City)
* Chikugo-ben (Southern of Fukuoka)
o Ōmuta-ben
o Yanagawa-ben
* Chikuho-ben (Center of Fukuoka)
* Saga-ben
* Nagasaki-ben
o Sasebo-ben
* Kumamoto-ben
* Hita-ben (Westernmost of Oita)


Hakata-ben is the dialect of the Hakata of Fukuoka City. Throughout Japan, Hakata-ben is famous, amongst many other idiosyncrasies, for its use of -to? as a question, e.g., "What are you doing?", realized in Standard Japanese as nani o shite iru no?, is nanba shiyotto? or nan shitōtō in Hakata. Hakata-ben is also being welcomed more often in Fukuoka in areas like television interviews, where standard Japanese is typically expected.

Examples of Hakata-ben include:

* asoban instead of asobou; "let's have fun" (from an alternative simplification of Classical Japanese asobamu)
* bari instead of totemo "very"
* batten instead of demo, kedo "but"
* chikappai instead of monosugoku "extremely/best/very"
* da ken instead of da kara "therefore"
* shitōtchan instead of shiterunda "I'm doing it"
* ~shitōkiyo instead of shite kinasai "please do ~"; used with children
* sogyan kanji instead of sonna kanji "Like that."
* wakaran bai instead of wakaranai yo "I don't understand / don't get it."
* umaka/samuka/atsuka instead of umai/samui/atsui "tasty/cold/hot" (from an earlier *umaku ari/*samuku ari/*atuku ari)
* yokarōmon instead of ii deshō "good, don't you think?"
* yoka yo instead of ii yo "It's fine."
* tsuya-tukeru instead of kakko-tsukeru "to act cool"

Most other dialects in Kyūshū share much in common with Hakata-ben, but the dialect of Kagoshima is strikingly different from other Kyūshū dialects.


Saga-ben has gained a certain amount of exposure recently, due to the movie "Gabai Bā-chan". The title itself is in Saga-ben.


Tsushima-ben (Kanji : 対馬方言 or 対馬弁) is a Kyūshū dialect spoken within the Tsushima Subprefecture of Nagasaki Prefecture. Tsushima dialect is often unintelligible to speakers of standard Japanese, but can be understood by speakers of other Kyūshū dialects. Due to historical reasons and the geographical proximity of the Korean Peninsula, Tsushima-ben has borrowed many words from Korean.
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