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Want to communicate with the Japanese locals better?
Study the various Japanese dialects!

japanese dialect map of japan

Dialects are a form or style of speaking a language. It can differ from other dialects in terms of its vocabulary, grammar rules, and accent. Hyojungo (標準語), also known as the standard dialect, is the official language of the land of the rising sun, however there are numerous other Japanese dialects as well. Depending on what area of the country you are in, the way the locals speak the language can be significantly different from the normal standard Japanese you may be used to.

japanese dialect regional map

On this page, you will learn more about the types of dialects which exist in Japan and how studying them may add to your benefit. With our lessons, not only can you learn the common phrases and vocabulary but you can also learn grammar rules as well. Don’t forget to also download your FREE Japanese regional dialects cheat sheet and impress your friends by spicing up your Japanese!

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Here are your Japanese Dialects PDF cheat sheet.

The great thing about this is that you’ll get a better understanding of local specificities through dialect examples, like Kansai dialect and much more.

FREE japanese dialect cheat sheet

Download your FREE Japanese Dialects PDF Guide.
This is a must-have guide for ALL Japanese learners.

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What is the standard Japanese dialect?

Today’s “standard Japanese” became the common tongue of the nation when the government in 1868 during the Meiji era wished to create a more “centralized state” by choosing an official language. The dialect spoken in the Yamanote district of Tokyo was then chosen and the later emergence of television and radio helped to spread the dialect nationwide. Presently, standard Japanese is what is used in television and taught in schools. However, the existence of other dialects still remains to this day and it is interesting to see how the Japanese language can vary region by region! When travelling to different regions of Japan, you may come across natives who prefer to speak in their own local dialect.

Perks to studying other dialects

Thinking about traveling around various regions of Japan? Although standard Japanese is the most commonly used dialect, there are some perks to learning the other dialects as well, especially for travelers.

  • By studying the dialect of the area you are visiting, it will aid you in understanding and communication with the locals better! Expand your vocabulary and grammar and you can better understand what the locals are trying to convey to you. Furthermore, it can help decrease chances of confusion. For example, same words in different dialects can have different meanings. The word “erai” means great or admirable in standard Japanese but on the other hand, it can also mean tired in Western Japan.
  • Showing the locals that you have been studying their way of speaking may give them a good impression! By studying even at least the common phrases, it will show them that you are really putting in an effort to learning more and gaining a deeper understanding of their culture.
  • You can even put your dialect knowledge to use from the comfort of your own home. Japanese television dramas and anime often feature a character who speaks the kansai dialect, especially those where the setting of the story is in Kansai itself. If you don’t want to rely on subtitles, studying the dialect may help in understanding the characters better!
  • study regional dialect in japan

    How can JapanesePod101 benefit you?

    Interested in expanding your knowledge of Japanese dialects? Luckily for you, JapanesePod101 is able to help! Typically when taking courses to learn Japanese, teachers will have you study standard Japanese. However, JapanesePod101 takes it a step forward by offering you various dialect lessons, including audio lessons for the Kansai, Aomori, Okayama, and Niigata dialects.

  • Kansai dialect: Perhaps the most recognizable dialect and spoken in the Kansai region. Compared to standard Japanese, it is known for its stronger emphasis on certain syllables in words and is also often linked to expressing warmth and friendliness.
  • Aomori dialect: Aomori prefecture is an area famous for its apples, the famous Nebuta festival, and lots of snow. Our lessons focus on the Tsugaru dialect spoken in Aomori, which has a reputation for being very difficult to understand as it sounds very different from standard Japanese. It is also known for using a lot of short phrases!
  • Okayama dialect: Located between Hyogo and Hiroshima, Okayama is famous for its delicious peaches and fish. Their dialect is often described as being rough sounding by many of those from outside of the region.
  • Niigata dialect: Niigata is an area well known for its sake and rice. It is also famous as a popular ski destination in the winter. Compared to standard Japanese, the dialect has a lot of long vowels

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    The lessons feature a dialogue between native speakers of the dialect, then proceeds to breaking down the dialogue and reviewing the grammar and vocabulary mentioned. By listening to these native speakers, you can hear the various Japanese accents and get a broader understanding of how their intonation works! here are clear explanations for differences between standard Japanese and the other dialects and there is even a pdf of the lesson you can download as well that you can study at your leisure. Check it out!