Across Japan's many prefectures you'll find a host of different dialects.
For example, in standard Japanese while someone may say "Gomi wo suteru" (I'll throw out the garbage), in Hokkaido and Tohoku, you may hear "Gomi wo nageru" which closer translates to "I'll literally throw the garbage", or "Gomi wo hokasu" with "hokasu" being part of the Kansai dialect. Another example would be that "Katazukeru" (Tidy up) in standard Japanese is "Naosu" which means "to fix" in Hakata Dialect.
In this article, we're going to be taking a look into one of the most famous dialects, Kansai Dialect.
There may be some words and phrases you can use during your next trip to Kansai, so let's learn together!
What kind of Dialect is Kansai Dialect and Where is it Used?
Kansai Dialect, as the name suggests, is a dialect used mostly within the Kansai region of Japan. You'll find it used most predominantly in places such as Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara. However, be careful, if you directly asked someone from the Kansai region about what Kansai Dialect is, they may get upset and tell you that the dialect is not one single thing, but different and unique depending on the area you're in within the Kansai region.
In reality, this is true, as there's not a single "Kansai Dialect" that's shared between all of these locations, it changes depending on where you are down to very small wording and intonation.
Not only this, but in Shiga Prefecture and Wakayama Prefecture, they speak what people call "Kansai Dialect", but it's nothing like that spoken in Osaka or Kyoto! Then you have Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, Shiga, Gifu, Aichi, and Mie who also use dialect such as Mie Dialect, which is a type of Kansai dialect, except it has Nagoya and Tōkai dialect mixed in with it as well! How confusing!
To make it a little easier to understand, let's take a look at some examples for Osaka, Nara, and Kobe dialects. Here's how each different region says "Nani wo shiterun desuka" (What are you doing?).
- Standard Japanese：何をしているんですか？(Nani wo shiterun desuka?)
- Osaka ：なにしてん？(Nani shiten?)
- Kyoto ：なにしてはる？(Nani shiteharu?)
- Kobe：なにしとぉ？(Nani Shitoo?)
As you can see, the 3 areas have completely different ways of saying the same thing!
By the way, if you ask someone who was born in the Kansai Region what they think of these 3 different dialects, they will typically tell you that Osaka has a very lively and strong wording, Kyoto has a more graceful air to it, and Kobe is very stylish, it seems as though the residents of these areas are all quite unique in their fashion sense and pride. If you ever visit these areas yourself, make sure to pay attention to the way people talk and dress!
Kansai Dialect that all Japanese People Know!
Let's introduce some of Kansai dialect's most well-known words! As we said before, the intonation and such may change depending on area, but if you're visiting Kyoto or Osaka, you're sure to be able to use these words and phrases!
Beginner Kansai Dialect Perfect to Try!
Let's first take a look at some everyday Kansai dialect that's used by locals! If you visit the Kansai region of Japan, you're sure to be able to use these words and phrases to communicate with the locals!
- こんにちは（Konnichiha） → まいど（Maido）→ Good Afternoon
- ありがとう（Arigato） → おおきに（Okini）→ Thank you
- 本当（Honto） → ほんま（Honma）→ Really
- ダメ（Dame） → あかん（Akan）→ No
- そうだね（Sodane） → せやで（Seyade）→ That's right
- すごい（Sugoi） → めっちゃ（Meccha）・ばり（Bari）→ Very
- むずかしい（Muzukashii） → むずい（Muzui）→ Difficult
- 早く（Hayaku） → はよ（Hayo）→ Quickly
- ちがう（Chigau） → ちゃう（Cyau）→ Wrong
- なんで（Nande） → なんでやねん（Nandeyanen）→ Why
- さようなら（Sayounara） → さいなら（Sainara）・ほな（Hona）→ Goodbye
- とても（Totemo ） → めっちゃ（Meccha）→ Very
- 構わない（Kamawanai） → かまへん（Kamahen）→ I don't mind
- 良い（Yoi） → ええ（Ee）→ Good
- 自転車（Jitensha） → ちゃり（Cyari）→ Bicycle
Some High Level Words ＆ Phrases!
If you're planning to stay in the Kansai region for a prolonged period of time, here are some additional words and phrases which will surely come in handy!
- アイスコーヒー（Aisukohi） → レイコー（Reiko）→ Iced Coffee
- 突き当り（Tsukiatari） → どん突き（Donduki）→ End (of a street etc.)
- 捨てる（Suteru） → ほかす（Hokasu）→ Throw Away
- 新しい（Atarashii） → さらぴん（Sarapin）→ Brand New
- せっかち（Sekkachi） → いらち（Irachi）→ Impatient
- ふてぶてしい（Futebuteshii） → ふてこい（Futekoi）→ Shameless
- 駐車場（Cyusyajo） → モータープール（Motapuru）→ Parking Lot
Let's Take a Look at some Example Sentences to use During your Trip! ♪
Ok, now that we've learned some basic words and phrases, let's take a look at some real life situations and conversations where they might be used! It might be good to practice a few of these yourself before your trip.
① When you've eaten some delicious takoyaki and want to say how delicious it was
A:このたこ焼きどう？(Kono takoyaki dou?) - How is the takoyaki?
B：めっちゃ、うまいわ（Meccha Umaiwa）- It's very delicious!
② When asking about prices at stores
Meaning：How much does this cost?
Meaning：Can't you sell me this for a little bit cheaper?
③ When the waiter brings you the wrong food
Meaning：What? this is wrong!
Some Knowledge to Get Along with Kansai Locals!
When the term "Aho" is used in Kansai, you're actually being complemented.
Typically, "Aho" in Japanese is used in a negative manner to call someone stupid, however, for Kansai locals, especially people from Osaka, it's actually mostly used as a form of compliment.
For example, "Anta, honma aho yana" (You really are stupid), while it may sound mean, it's actually used to show affection towards the person you're saying it to. When someone says this to you, you can reply "Ahochaimannen, paadennen".
So, if someone ever calls you an "aho" in Kansai, you can rest assured knowing you've become good friends with that person, so don't get angry!
However, "baka" holds the same meaning as the rest of Japan, so make sure not to use them interchangeably!
A Commercial Everyone Knows in Kansai!
Have you ever heard about Osaka's soul food alongside takoyaki, 551 HORAI's steamed bun with minced pork filling?
551 HORAI is a long-standing Chinese chain restaurant that started from the center of Osaka that has a commercial so well-known that there's most likely not a single person who lives in Kansai who doesn't know it!
The phrase "551 ga nai toki ⤵" is especially well known, so if you ever hear "551 ga aru toki ⤴", during your trips around Kansai, if you reply accordingly with "551 ga nai toki ⤵" you're sure to be welcomed into the Kansai family!
By the way, if you ever eat one of those steamed pork buns on the shinkansen, it's famous that the smell of the pork bun will fill the entire train. So, if you decide to try one for yourself, make sure to avoid eating it in public spaces or public transport and instead to try it in your hotel room or at the restaurant!