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!
I recommend checking out a detailed discussion of Kansai dialect:
I live in Kyoto and think incessantly about food, both making and eating it. You can find my occasional musings about food at furochan.wordpress.com. Or more often showing you the places I've been to and what I've eaten on Instagram @furochan_eats. Yoroshiku!
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