Q: Hi Richard,
First off I love your site (http://genkijapan.net/)!! So right now I’m aslihtly concerned. I’ve studied Japanese for over a year now and in August I’m going to Japan to be a foreign exchange student for six months. To be more specific, I’m going to Okinawa. I know in Okinawa and the rest of the Ryukyu Islands there is a Ryukyuan language spoken mainly by the older people called Uchinaguchi. It’s not this that I am worried about. I’ve learned that in different areas of Japan different dialects are spoken. I’ve also heard that people from the mainland have trouble understanding the people in Okinawa because of their accent or dialect. My host sister is currently in America and I have talked to her before in Japanese and have had no trouble. So what I’m concerned about is when I continue to learn Japanese in Okinawa will I be able to speak and understand Japanese people in places like Tokyo? Will they be able to understand me? – Jon
A: Hi Jon, good news is you have nothing to worry about!
Thanks to TV and the 国語 = kokugo = national language- lessons in schools, everyone under the age of 90 in Japan speaks pretty much the same Japanese. The pronunciation and accent are all the same, and the regional “accents” aren’t accents as such, you just change the word endings a little bit, the pronunciation is always standard so it’s really, really easy to understand!
Think the difference between Seattle and Portland, rather than Scotland vs. Brooklyn!
60 years ago, maybe a few problems occured, but not these days. So enjoy the lovely Okinawa lifestyle whilst learning Japanese you can use anywhere!