6 Useful Words to Really Impress the Yamagata Locals

  • Have you started learning any Japanese yet? How’s your hiragana, katakana, and kanji? Once you’ve mastered those, maybe you would like to start learning the dialects (ho-ben方便) of the different areas across Japan. Various areas have their own unique dialect and it’s quite interesting to listen to the differences. For me, Kansai-ben sounds like Chinese, yet it’s Japanese!

    I’d like to share with you 6 Yamagata-ben words that are essential to know in Yamagata or other parts of the Tohoku region.

    Yamagata Prefecture



    Now you must be asking where is the Yamagata Prefecture? It is in Tohoku, or the northern part of the main island of Honshu. One of its neat features is that the shape of the prefecture looks like a head turned sideways. As for the language, Yamagata-ben is considered to be a rural dialect. To people not from the area, it apparently seems very casual. People from Yamagata, like to stress and/or extend the final sound loudly. You can’t miss it.

    6 Useful Yamagata-ben Words


    1. oshoushina ((おしょうしな))
    Oshoushina means thank you. However, if you ask anyone who isn’t from Yamagata what it means, they may look puzzled. You’ll hear this word often after buying omiyage, or other local gifts in Yamagata. This simple word has a lot of power. If it’s the one word you remember from this article and are able to use it, you’ll absolutely impress the locals!

    2. sasukene (さすけね)
    Sasukene means no problem or you’re welcome. This is not as common as oshoushina, but still a good term to know. You’ll hear this word from people of all ages. Offer to help clear the table and then respond with a sasukene.

    3. ohayo-sama (おはようさま)
    Ohayousama means good morning. While you normally hear ohayo or ohayo gozaimasu, ending the greeting with ~sama makes it Yamagata style. Another example of a word that ends with ~sama is arigatousama, which means thanks or thank you. Ohayousama and arigatou sama are commonly used between older people in Yamagata. I always hear this from people in town as I’m walking to school in the mornings.

    4. domosu ( (どうもっす))
    Domosu is the Yamagata version of domo. Simply it could be a thank you or please or a greeting. This is one of the words that everyone will teach you if you ask about Yamagata-ben. Yamagata people use this phrase many times a day.

    5. ~ndabe (~んだべ)
    ~ndabe is the Yamagata version of ~dane. It translates to …isn’t it?! or …right?! You must listen to how the locals stress this phrase. They are very passionate about it.

    6. oban desu (おばんです)
    The last essential Yamagata word is oban desu, or good night. This is a great phrase to use at the end of a work party. After a great evening, it’ll surely get you a good response if you use oban desu.

    Now that you know these 6 essential Yamagata-ben words, why don’t you come and visit the Yamagata Prefecture and speak with the locals? Once here, I’m sure you’ll learn more words that will give you the great community feel that Yamagata uniquely offers.

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