Learn Kansai-ben/Osaka-ben

Its not enough just to learn how to speak Japanese. You’re going to want to speak with a certain level of friendliness or style; otherwise you’ll sound as dull as a doorknob.

The Japanese are typically reserved people. If you want to bring out the friendliness or fun in them you’ll have to make an effort to be interesting or friendly yourself. There are various ways this can be achieved.

One of them is to simply speak in a particular dialect of Japanese which is strongly associated with ‘warmth’ and ‘friendliness’. It is called the Kansai dialect, which is spoken in the ‘Kansai’ Region of Japan. It is synonymous with Osaka-ben.

Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect)

The Stereotypical Kansai-jin (a person from Kansai) is outgoing, fast talking, funny, friendly, quick-witted and caring.

While there is a distinct quality/tone in the way the speak (we're talking about changing emphasis on syllable, not like an accent as in a British vs American accent), the tone is in fact (strangely as it may seem) not a requisite for speaking Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect). I repeat, they do not pronounce words differently like someone from New York or Fargo would compared to normal American English. People in Kansai pronounce the same way as people in Tokyo, they just change the intonation of the syllables.

Speaking Kansai-ben depends on three elements:

  1. Use of a certain vocabulary
  2. Changing emphasis on the syllables in words
  3. Different grammar rules and different words all together

But you can get by just using the Kansai vocabulary.

Before we begin

Before you start in learning Kansai-ben it is important to note that there are two ways to go about it. One is to just learn pat phrases and little tid bits which will get you plenty of laughs. Things such as 'nandeyanen' etc etc.

The other is to actually learn the grammar of Kansai-ben so you can talk like a native, and not sound like everyone else who tries to imitate them.

The first way is recommended for beginners, however for those who actually want to HOW to speak like people from kansai you must FIRST understand Kanto-ben, which is normal Japanese.

Learning Kansai-ben before you understand standard Japanese will make your learning experience a nightmare of confusion.

It is recommended to get up to an intermediate level of Japanese before you take on Kansai-ben form the viewpoint of talking like a native speaker. There are precise grammatical conversions you do from standard Japanese to Kansai-ben, and if you don't understand them in standard... well you get the idea.

The scope of this article is to give you straight up the phrases and common words of Kansai-ben without any grammar, as its self.

And then for those who are interested, a deeper level with more attention on grammar. Continue to read on for a list of pat Kansai-ben phrases. And for a more in depth explantion click here.

Tokyo-ben and Kansai-ben Compared

Common Japanese is referred to as “Tokyo-ben” Here is a chart with just a few words in Tokyo, Kansai and English:

Kansai Tokyo English

Chau
Akan
Meccha
wakarahen
Aho
ookini
honma

Chigau
Dame
Tottemo
wakaranai
baka
arigatou
honto

Different
‘no good’
Very
“I don’t understand”
idiot
thank you
really

 

Kansai Words and Phrases

Here is a typical list of Kansai words and phrases:

Kansai English

Nande ya nen!?
nan ya kore?!
doshitan?
ee yan!
Omoroi!
ariehen!
nani yu ten no ya!?
aho!
meccha
mokarimakka?
ma bochi bochi denna
kamahen, kamahen
honma?
honma ookini
honma gomen
hona mata
bari ee yan
bari bari ee de!
ee yanke!
nani shitenen!? (osaka)
nani shitonen!? (kobe)
ee de
ee yo
betsuni kamahen de!
nandemo ee yan
mou ee wa!
meccha tanoshii yanke!
aitsu aho ya de, honmani
hayo shine!
hayo kaere omae!
chau de!
chau wa!
mecchakuccha
shindoi!
ohayou-san
maido
shiran
wakaran / wakarahen
bochi bochi
shiran kedo na
ee nen!
jibun aho yarou?
aho chau?
aho chau ka?
omae aho chau ka?
ware! (roll the 'r' 1 second)
ondore!!! (roll the 'r' for 1 second)
akan
akan de!
ookini
chau chau chau
ore shiran kedo na

ore aho ya wa~
bari bari
bari bari ee yan!

Let's tie it together now:
akan de! nani shitennen omae!? koitsu aho ya de honma ni, mou ee wa, hayo kaereeeeee!!!

 

What the hell?!
What is this?!
what’s wrong?
great!
That's funny!
Unbelievable!
What are you talking about?!
idiot!
Very
“how are you?” or “are you profiting?”
“well you know, so so”
I don’t care, I don’t care
really?
Thank you so much
I’m really sorry
see ya later
really good ya know!
really really good!
NICE!
What are you doing!?
What are you doing!?
you're welcome
you're welcome
I don't really care!
doesn't matter to me
enough already!
really fun!!!
that guy's such an idiot, for real!
die!
get the hell out of here!
that's wrong! / its not like that!
that's wrong! / its not like that!
really really / extremely
I'm exhausted!
Good morning
hi
I don't know
I don't understand
so so
I don't know, and I don't care
NICE!
are you stupid? (friendly)
are you stupid? (less friendly)
are you supid? (even less friendly, angry)
what are you stupid?! (angry)
You asshole!
You mother ****er
no good
you can't do that! / that's no good!
thanks
no, no, no
I don't know, and I don't care (if you're female substitute 'ore' with 'atashi')
I'm so stupid!
very very
very very good!


what the hell are you doing? You can't do that, this punk's such an idiot, enough already, get the hell out of here!!!

How do you say the words?

You must make sure not to enunciate! EVER! You must slur and speak rapidly your osaka-ben. For example the phrase: bari ee yan. You do not say three seperate words with pauses between. Although there ARE three seperate words there you must slur them together as one, and say it in one breath and fast: barieeyan.

BONUS: Tokyo Japanese Slang

BONUS!!! Let's take a break and learn how them cool young folk over in Tokyo talk.

Aside from speaking in Kansai-ben, having a liberal supply of Tokyo slang on hand is key in speaking with a friendly and likable manner. What’s more it will almost guarantee jaw-dropping and stunned reactions from certain people, when they here you utter these words or phrases.

Tokyo Slang English

Sugee
Yabaii na!
hazui!
Ossu
Cho
Maji de?!
Ja ne
Yaba!
Mabui!
Uzai!
Muzui
Uso!
Sasuga!
nani yuu ten no?
Nani shi ten no?
Koitsu...
Zakken na!

 

Awesome
Wicked!
I’m embarrassed!
What’s up?
Super (as in ‘so’ good)
Seriously?!
See ya later!
Terrible/damnit!
Hottie! (old slang, describes women only)
Shut up!
Difficult
Just kidding!/You must be joking!
That's just like you!
What the hell are you talking about?
Whatcha doin' ?
This dude/this chick
Stop screwing around!