What words are used only in Tokyo?

I’ve been trying to figure out if some words or phrases are unique to Tokyo. I know there isn’t a strong dialect here since it essentially got wrapped into the standard dialect, but I’m wondering if there are any regional phrases? I’m also interested in if Yokohama speaks differently than Tokyo.

Anyone know anything?

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It’s not a Tokyo-only word, but I was very puzzled for a while by the usage of 上る / のぼる for ‘to go to Tokyo’.

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I feel like Tokyo kind of sets the standard for the rest of the country. Rather than words or phrases used only in Tokyo, you may be more likely to find ones that remain only within a specific ward.

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This is used on the train lines - same as British English uses “up-line” and “down-line” for the train directions, Japan uses 上り and 下り, and for the JR lines at least, convention defines “up” as being “towards Tokyo”.

American English uses “inbound” and “outbound” instead.

In Ye Olden Times, it also referred to heading in the direction of the Emperor’s throne (i.e. Kyoto before the Meiji Restoration, Tokyo afterwards), because the capital is the centre of the world, ya know.

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I’ve never heard or seen up-line or down-line in British English. I’ve only ever seen or heard inbound or outbound.

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@yonah, there are still a few things unique Tokyo dialect things which separate from standard Japanese, though most aren’t really words (most dialects are more grammar than words). For words though I would say まじで or うそ as “no way” and ちょう for “super” are very Tokyo things.

The biggest is the “え shift” for a lot of words. For example, rather than すごい, you may hear すげえ, and instead of かっこいい you may hear かっけえ. There are quite a few words this happens to. It’s worth noting that this comes from western dialects, but unlike western dialects, it has a sound of being particularly rough/masculine (since the importing of it was largely intentional for this)

Other very noticeable ones: The informal switch of られる to れる as often mentioned in textbooks. さ at the end of sentences. じゃん (also in western Japanese).

There are more of course, but these are the ones I can think of on the top of my head. Note that many of these things can be understood by most Japanese people because of media, but usage of all is mostly congregated in the Tokyo area (except the stuff borrowed from other dialects)

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Thanks for all your help!

I hear plenty of the things you mentioned in Kansai. Using れる for られる is just a general trend and so younger people are more likely to do it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my girlfriend use a full られる for a potential verb.

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Yeah but they originate in Tokyo AFAIK and are more frequently used there

I guess that might be the history of it. It’s just that it won’t help the OP differentiate it from Yokohama if it’s not differentiating it from Kansai… I’m sure there’s something, but I assume if would be really fine-grained and not widely known.

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Yeah I could worry be mistaken, but I could have sworn I heard it elsewhere. But regardless, much of that list is western Japanese stuff that is in Tokyo but not in standard

Yeah, I don’t mean to sound doubtful in the first sentence there. I meant to emphasize “history.” At one point you could hear someone speak that way and know where they were from, but not now as far as I can tell.

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Yeah, I hear まじで and うそ very frequently in Shikoku. Also すげえ is the the masculine form, I hear that all the time. As for られる Leebo covered that. But in regards to specific regional phrases I have only been to Tokyo twice for multi week holidays and the friends I spent time with would use similar slang to what I hear most weeks at work. Maybe Tokyo specific TV may reveal some hidden gems. Good luck with the hunt Sir!

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Yeah, I hear まじで and うそ very frequently in Shikoku. Also すげえ is the the masculine form, I hear that all the time. As for られる Leebo covered that.

This. I’ve heard those used in Niigata, Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Shizuoka. They may have started in Tokyo, but they are definitely no longer unique to Tokyo/Kanto.

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Same here. I’ve always been interested in people saying they’re going “up” to London - I’m from The North and feel v strongly that south is down, but that doesn’t seem to be the convention when it comes to the capital!

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For what it’s worth, I hear most of these out here in Fukushima prefecture as well. I’ve heard まじで and ちょう associated with teenage slang, though. I feel like I hear “すげえ” quite a lot as well (although that might just be on TV), and “うそ” seems pretty much like the standard way of saying “no way”. Maybe this is more of an East vs. West thing?

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yet another person who’s from another region here. i appreciate the general gist of what you’re saying, but i hear and use all of these out here irl in tohoku as well, and i’m not really one to follow much japanese media. i do know of prefectural slang unique to where i live, but my image of tokyo is that it’s such a melting pot that there isn’t exactly a tokyo dialect anymore.

i wish i knew about specific words, OP, but all i can really pick up when i visit tokyo is the accent difference. i’ve never heard so much enunciation until i visited tokyo. to me, the accent makes people from tokyo sound both clearer and softer spoken, even if they’re saying most of the same words. good luck, though, dialects are a lot of fun :slight_smile:

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ちょう is still used by teenager ? I thought it was way outdated already.

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It might be. To be honest, I heard it described by someone in their twenties as teenage slang, but not that you mention it, I haven’t heard my middle schoolers use it… ever.

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Surely there are some 東京弁トランプ playing cards right? I’ve seen them for Kyushu, Oita, Hiroshima, and either Osaka or Kyoto. They have a lot of slang phrases but also specific words too.