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Goin’ Japanesque!

Japanese Language: 3 Funny Regional Dialects –Advanced–

In a previous article we introduced 3 introductory level regional dialects. The 3 mentioned there were words that other Japanese or those studying the Japanese language would be able to make somewhat of a guess. However the 3 advanced vocabulary we introduce here are quite difficult that even Japanese would not be able to guess at the meaning at all.


Dialect 1: “Oshosui” – In and North of Miyagi Prefecture–

In Miyagi Prefecture and those of the Tohoku region, there are some parts that use “shosui” or “oshosui” to mean “hazukashii” (embarrassing). It seems there are also areas like the Iwate Prefecture where they simply say “shosu” or “shosuu”.

It is said to be an expression that has originated from the somewhat stern Japanese word “shoshi” which means foolish or strange. It developed to express something that is laughable (with an implied meaning of degradation) as something that is “embarrassing”.

It seems that the expression is more often used in a self degrading manner, and even today, there are quite a number of elderly who use “shosui” or “shosu” when they have done something embarrassing or when they have encountered an embarrassing situation.

To add, in Yamagata Prefecture, which is a neighbor of Miyagi Prefecture, there is a very similar expression “oshoshina” in their dialect. This phrase means “thank you”.

Thus, if someone from Yamagata says the words of appreciation “oshoshina” to someone from Miyagi, the individual from Miyagi may wonder “has he done something embarrassing?”. That’s one funny episode associated with this expression. It’s funny that even though they are geographically located next to each other, once they cross prefectural borders, they are not able to understand one another.


Dialect 2: “Hangoroshi” – Toyama Prefecture–

*Means “to kill half way” in standard Japanese.

In parts of Toyama Prefecture, the confection “ohagi”, (glutinous mochi rice coated with sweet chunky red bean paste) is called “hangoroshi”. This really surprises many people, even the Japanese.

The reason being that the Japanese word hangoroshi means “to hurt someone so badly that they are almost dead”. Thus to “han(bun)” halfway, “korosu” kill. Many Japanese would envision this situation when the word hangoroshi is used, so it may be safe not use the word too carelessly even as a joke.

However, there are some Japanese dictionaries that list the definition of “hangoroshi” as “the process in making ohagi by mashing cooked rice so that about half of the shape of the grains remains”. Thus, though it is not well known, it is actually recognized as proper Japanese.

Here the word “korosu” expresses the action of “mashing” rather than killing and because the mochi rice in ohagi is half mashed, it is called “hangoroshi”, “han” meaning half. If all the grains are completely mashed as in mochi or rice cakes, then it is said to be called “minagoroshi”, “mina” meaning all or everyone.

There is actually a story of an old couple who ran a hotel in Toyama prefecture. They discussed whether “that young man (referring to someone who came to stay as a guest) preferred hangoroshi or minagoroshi”. The young guest who overheard the conversation took off and ran away as fast as he could from the hotel.

The old couple was actually discussing “what to serve the young man for breakfast”. However, because he was not familiar with this dialect, he thought that the owners of the hotel was going to give him trouble and ran away.

This kind of misunderstanding is born even among Japanese so it may be better to refrain from using this term too lightly.


Dialect 3: “(Isshoni) Shindeyo” – Nagoya–

*Means “let’s die together” in standard Japanese.

In a sense, this can be said to be the ultimate regional expression.

To make a long story short, we recommend you do not use this term as you will most likely give someone a shock. The reason is because it will sound like you are asking someone to die with you. Meaning, that it is likely you will be misunderstood to be asking to commit a double suicide together.

Linguistically speaking, it is an expression used in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture. “Shindeyo” is the same as the standard Japanese “Shinaideyo”, meaning “please do not do (something)”. Thus, “Issho ni shindeyo” means “Please do not do something (with me/someone else).

<Process of evolution>
“Shinaide” (standard Japanese)→ “Sende (Sentoite)” (Often used in Kansai)→ “Shinde” (Nagoya area)


“Sentoite” is a popular expression in Kansai dialect, but “Shinde” is a less known dialect so even Japanese who are from a different region may be surprised to hear this expression.


How did you like the 6 Funny Regional Dialects from “Introduction” to “Advanced”?

Many people from overseas may not be familiar with Japanese “dialects” but the more we learn about them, we find that they are quite interesting. Of course in learning Japanese, we suggest you start with the “standard” language, but for those of you who are interested, we recommend you to try learning about dialects of other regions of Japan. You may discover a charm that you find in no other language.

Related Articles:
Japanese Language: 3 Funny Regional Dialects –Introduction–
5 Distinctly Japanese Expressions that are Difficult to Translate

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