Ever wanted to learn more about the infamous Kansai dialect of Japan? From a Japanese person? Through the medium of cats? Well now you can learn Kansai-ben with cats!!!
関西弁にゃんこ (Kansai-ben Nyanko) is a fantastic book by Maki, a Japanese illustrator and writer from Kyoto.
絵がすごくかわいいですよ!!! Her art is so cute!!!
And following her on twitter is great Japanese practice!
If you have LINE you can buy her Kansai-ben Kitten stickers here!
This book is currently unavailable in English but I got special permission to translate parts of it for Japanese Talk Online readers!
This isn’t a very long book but there’s still a lot of material packed into it! Certainly too much to put into a single blog post. So keep an eye out for even more Kansai-ben Cats!
Kansai-ben changes depending on where you are!
We say Kansai-ben but what we’re referring to is Osaka-ben, the Kyoto dialect, Kobe-ben, Hanoi-ben, Settsu-ben, Nara-ben, Omi-ben……There are so many dialects in Kansai and each one changes depending on where you are!
These differences don’t normally cause any issues, but problems can arise now and then!
Take a Kyoto native who’s studying at a College in Osaka, for example. She’s invited out for drinks when……
She turns them down in Kyoto-ben:「ごめん、行きたいんやけど行けへんわ～」(gomen, ikitain ya kedo ikehen wa~)
To which her friend replies in Osaka-ben:「なんや気ぃ悪いなあ！来いたいんやったら来いや～」 (nan ta kii warui naa! kiitain yattara koi ya~)
That’s right, she tried to say “I want to go but I can’t”, but in Osaka-ben it turned into “I want to go but I won’t”!
[In Kansai-ben the Japanese negative 「ない」turns into 「へん」]
「行かない」”I won’t go” in Osaka-ben is 「いけへん」, but in Kyoto-ben it’s 「いかへん」. And 「行けない」”I can’t go” is 「いかれへん」 in Osaka-ben, and 「いけへん」 in Kyoto-ben.
Even if someone is from the Kansai region they won’t necessarily know this. And even if they’re used to it things like this can still cause confusion. You have to be extra careful of instances where the meaning is completely different!
Give me a break~! かんべんして～や！
Standard Japanese: 本当に？ (honto ni?) そうなの？ (sou nano?)
Meaning: “really” “it’s the truth”. When used as a question it means “is that really true?” or just “really?”
Did You Know: When used as a question 「ホンマに？」 means “really?”, but when it’s used as an exclamation 「ホンマに！」it portrays surprise. When the end is extended 「ホンマに～」it expresses “I see” or “I agree”.
How to Use: A good listener will use this term freely. You can use 「ホンマに」 with a mixture of「へー」(ehh) to keep the conversation flowing. It really is an all-purpose word great for any conversation!
[In Japanese it’s polite to make affirming sounds like “ehh” to show that you are listening to them.]
A: “I won the lottery!”
A: “Really. 30,000 yen”
A: “You really mean 300 yen. Are you an idiot?”
Standard Japanese: なんですって！？ (nan desu tte?!)
Meaning: A common phrase expressing surprise at what someone else has said.
Means “what did you say?!”
Did You Know: It gives off a comedic double-act impression. It’s generally used when giving a surprised reaction, but also comes off as being slightly comical. Sometimes used in yakuza films with a deep rumbling tone to threaten someone.
How to Use: Used when you’re overly surprised and can help spice up the conversation.
A: “I’m off to the pub, take care of the house for me~!”
B: “What did say?! You’d better bring me back something!”
Standard Japanese: ありえない (arienai)
Meaning: “No way” “I don’t believe it”
Did You Know: Have you ever thought “I don’t believe it!” when you’ve talked with someone who gets straight to the point and there’s no use arguing? But you have to be careful with the land mine that is 「ありえへん！」because it’s different for each person. It’s also often used with 「そんなアホな！」”so stupid/ridiculous!” which is incredibly kansai-ben.
Other Uses: If you extend the ending, i.e with a “wa~”, making it something like「ありえへんわー」, then you turn “no way” into a complaint. You can also use it when someone else is feeling down and you’re trying to cheer them up. So if your boyfriend/girlfriend is from Kansai and they’re trying to cheer you they might say 「そやね。そんなん、ありえへんよねー」”I know right. I just can’t believe that happened.” Doesn’t matter if it’s a lie or not, it’s used to show sympathy.
A: “Apparently the hot guy at the mixer the other day has a girlfriend!”
B: “That’s ridiculous! I don’t believe it! You had your sights on him…”
Standard Japanese: すごくいいですね！(sugoku ii desu ne!)
Meaning: “that’s fantastic!”
Did You Know: 「めっちゃ」is already used all across Japan! But people from Kansai use all kinds of variations such as 「むっちゃ」「めちゃめちゃ」「めっさ」. When 「めっちゃええやん」is used it’s direct translation is “that’s fantastic” but it has a slight hint of jealousy, so be careful. If you want to flatter the person you’re with you can say 「めっちゃええやん！せやけど、もひとつやな」which means “That’s fantastic! But I just remembered, I have something else to do”. Although you might get a snapped retort in return.
A: “I got this for 1000 yen in the sale the other day!”
B: “Really?! That’s fantastic!”
A: “Yeah but when I looked the next day it was 500 yen in the clearance…”
B: “That must have been a shock.”
Standard Japanese: それはだめです、絶対に (sore wa dame desu, zettai ni)
Meaning: “NO!” “You can’t do that, no matter what”
Did You Know: When parents or teachers keep telling their kids off they’ll often use 「アカンで！」. The railway police and committees have made posters that warn people against perverts with 「チカンアカン」 (chikan akan). A strict warning that says “no perverts!”. People often mumble 「アカンて」to themselves to say “oh no”.
A: “What ever you’re eating looks really good… I’ll have 1!”
B: “No way! Ah jeez~! You can’t just take one~!”