The Kyoto dialect (Kyo-kotoba) is quite distinct from standard Japanese and other dialects. Because it developed in the ancient capital, the feeling it gives Japanese people when they hear it is one of beauty, class, elegance, and nostalgia. It is more polite than standard Japanese, and it is often seen as somewhat feminine (because it is so polite).
There are many aspects of the dialect, but here are some phrases:
Thank you - Ooki ni (standard Japanese: Arigato)
Good-bye - Sainara (standard Japanese: Sayonara)
Welcome - Oideyasu OR Okoshiyasu! (standard Japanese: Yokoso)
You will see "Oideyasu" written in some areas to welcome you, and shop owners may welcome you in the local dialect, as well!
A couple other aspects of the language are:
-Finishing sentences with "haru" "taharu/teharu" (women) or "taaru" (men).
Examples: Nani shi'te iru no? (What are you doing) becomes "Nani Shi'tehara/Shi'taharu no?
"Kuru" (to come) becomes "Kuraharu", etc.
-Changing "-kudasai" to "(o)kure-yasu" Example: Sore o kudasai (Please given me that) becomes "Sore o okure-yasu"
Kyoto citizens are also known for giving directions using the cardinal directions (North, East, South, and West) instead of saying "straight", "left", and "right". They do this because the layout of the city (in the Chinese capital-style) was done according to the cardinal directions, so everyone knew which way was North, etc. unlike modern city layouts.
If you speak no japanese, it would really help to have someone around who does...
The signs in the busses and trains and elsewhere, rarely would you find stuff in english.
Infact, i noticed sometimes that the average person on the streets sometimes gets a bit intimidated when confronted with a question/ querry in english...
Fortunately for me, i Jitka was there to help out with things...
Make your stay in Kyoto and the Kansai area more enjoyable by using local expressions whenever appropriate.
Inevitably a kind native may ask, "Kyan you supeeku Japaneezu?" or "Kyan you yuzu choppusticky?" Your reply should humbly be: Ma, bochi bochi ya na which means "so-so" and sounds just like authentic Kansai "ben" (Kansai dialect) which is used in and around Kyoto.
You'll be the star of the show wherever you go if you can remember some of the following phrases in Kyoto:
Okini ni = Thank you
Honma ni = Really
Ohayo san = Good morning
Umai na! = It's delicious!
Kyoto honma ni kirei dosu na = Kyoto is really beautiful
Kino na, Himeji ikahatte, naa = Yesterday I went to Himeji
Doko e ikaharun desu ka? = Where are you going?
Nara ikiyoshi! = You should go to Nara!
Nani shi-taharu no? What are you doing?
Sonna koto yu-tore-hen! = I didn't say that!
Uchi mo yose ten ka? = May I join in?
Kamahen kamahen = I don't mind at all
Kore nanbo? = How much is this?
Mo sukoshi makete kurehen? = Can you drop the price a little?
Hona, sainara = In that case, I'm out of here
Honja, mata na! = See you later, alligator!
It can be very scary to come to Japan without speaking any Japanese! (unless you have joined a tour group). I will give you some basic Japanese phrases that I used constantly and found very helpful in my first few months here (and even now). Often you get lost, or are not sure about the transport system, so most of my tips will be about finding the way!
1. (place) wa doko desu ka? (where is ...........) for example if you are trying to find the toilet, train station (eki), bus stop (basu tei), Ginkakuji Temple..etc. Or, you can use this phrase if you are trying to find anything, like a certain food, or restaurant, or item of clothing.)
2. migi = right , hidari = left.
3. kono densha wa (place) ni ikimasu ka? (does this train go to ............?) (densha = train). You can subsitute 'densha' for 'basu'.
4. (place/bus stop you want to go to) no basu wa dore desu ka? (which bus goes to ............?). You can use 'basu' or 'densha'.
Make a little effort and learn some Japanese. Most college educated people have studied English for 10 years but very few people speak it or want to be bothered. If you use some Japanese in asking for help even the most stubborn people will be more open to helping you. Sumimasen – excuse me/I’m sorry, Arigato – thanks, * doko desu ka – where is…. Still, be prepared for people to tell you “no English” in English of course!
'Oishii, oishii!' = 'Tasty, tasty!'
'Atsui, atsui!' = 'Hot, hot!'
'Samui, samui!' = 'Cold, cold!'(as in weather, not food)
People in Kyoto repeat these adjectives twice! This is a Kyoto trait, part of 'Kyoto-ben' (Kyoto-speak).
This picture was taken in Gion.
Japanese language is one of the most complicated! Three types of characters. Anyway, here's some useful phrases to keep in mind in case you need help.
IN AN EMERGENCY:Help! Tas'kete!
Call the police Keisatsu o yonde kudasai!
Thank you Arigato gozaimasu
Excuse Me Sumimasen
I don't understand Wakarimasen
Do you speak English? Eigo o hanashimasuka?
How are you? Ogenki desu ka ?
Good morning Ohayo gozaimasu
Good afternoon Konnichiwa
Good evening Konbanwa
Good night Oyasumi nasai
Good bye Sayonara