Do Japanese regional accents have different pronunciations of sounds?

I know there are different dialects in Japan that use different words and some different intonations. However, are there accents, as opposed to dialects, among native Japanese speakers, that actually change the sounds of words? The way in English, North Americans would say toMAYto and a Briton would say toMAHto? Or in French, the way a French person would say “moi” and a Quebecer might say “moé”?

I’ve only been to Kyushu and to Honshu from Tokyo on south; I’ve never been to Tohoku, Shikoku or any of the islands south of Kyushu, but in my limited experience I can’t think of any differences in actual sounds, as opposed to differences in intonation or wording.

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Short answer: yes

Long, detailed and frequently technical answer:

I’ve been learning Osaka and Hiroshima dialects myself, as part of a side project. One of the things that throws me most about Hiroshima dialect is that the copula だ becomes じゃ. And then から becomes け, so だから becomes じゃけ, which sounds like something different altogether.

And so forth.


Yeah, they do little segments on Japanese TV from time to time to ask old people from various places to say things in their funny dialects.


Yes. I live in Gifu and my husband is from Osaka, so when I go to Tokyo everyone comments on my dialect. If you watch Kimi no Na wa, the countryside townsfolk are in northern Gifu. We talk similarly, but not exactly like that where I live in southern Gifu. I love the part when Taki tells her to not talk in a dialect. XD

Some examples where I am are:

-名古屋 - なごや - usually the go is strong and the ya sound drops, but people from Nagoya have an upward tone on ya.

-One thing Kansai Dude does is for any っ, usually the proceeding vowel is elongated instead of the stressed consonant. For example 行って is usually “itte” but is often pronounced “iite”. It really threw me off for a while.


Forever one of my favorite videos about dialect



I love listening to how the man in this video says the numbers in Tohoku-ben:


Perhaps this is not true, but I think in most cases different dialects are accompanied by accents as well. It’s hard for a language to develop in two different places, separate from each other, so that different grammars and vocabularies arise for the same ideas and concepts, but maintain the exact same pronunciations. Even in a language like Japanese that is so phonetic I would still expect some differences.

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There are tonal and stress differences by region. One example I remember from Kansai is:

あめ(雨)vs. あめ(飴)— Folks could tell if you were local vs. Tokyo/East because the intonation on these two words was flipped (rising vs. falling vs. flat) … I cannot remember which is which anymore.

Also 橋 and 箸, but like you, I can’t remember which way around they go. :stuck_out_tongue:

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雨 is falling and 飴 is rising in standard dialect.

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I can hardly understand any of my father in-law’s Tohoku accent when he is having a casual conversation with other men. I wonder if I’m even studying the same language sometimes :thinking:. The ladies are far easier for me to understand IMO. There are many sub-dialects just within Tohoku alone too.

It’s interesting, many people will attempt to hide their dialect with standard Kanto if they are from different regions to either accommodate for each other or not sound like a bumpkin (probably both). From what I’ve seen, Kanto natives generally have an ear for the imposter Kanto dialect but outside regions may fool each other. I don’t I have an ear for this quite yet, has anyone come across this?

Well, that’s practically got its own built-in mnemonic. Rain falls, and candy… uh… rises (in popularity?).


And sometimes じゃけん too!! The け is often elongated more like けえ in speech. They also really like やま pitches in Hiroshima (LHL), so many words there have shifted in pitch to that pattern.

I spent a year there in high school, and by the time I left I had to remind myself for a while that things like おらんよ and せんといけん were most definitely not standard Japanese xDDD

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