3 Different Kanto & Kansai Expressions To Know About! | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

3 Different Kanto & Kansai Expressions To Know About!

By Yae Nov 16, 2018



If you’re living in Japan right now, which region do you live in? Kanto region or Kansai region? It’s not surprising that there are differences of dialect all over Japan but there are few word differences between Kanto region and Kansai region which may affect your daily life.

Let’s see what they are!


1. “Small Appetizer” 



When you go out for dinner to an izakaya in Japan, many of you’re already aware of the “small appetizer” dish that arrives before ordering drink or food. The waitress or waiter brings you a small appetizer and asks you what to order.

Here is the language difference:


Kanto region: People say “otoshi” with the kanji “お通し”

・ The word “otoshi” comes from the meaning that the izakaya staff pass the ordered drink or food to the customers.


Kansai region: Some people say “tsukidashi” with the kanji “突き出し”

・ The word “tsukidashi” comes from the meaning of the food being served without any request from the customer.





How often do you eat sashimi in Japan? People think the word “sashimi” is used throught Japan for raw fish. However, there are different expressions in Kanto region and Kansai:


Kanto region: People say “osashimi” with the kanji “お刺身”

・ The word “osashimi” came from originally from Edo period meaning “cutting the fish”. At that time during the samurai society, Japanese people associated the word “cut” (“切る” (kiru) in Japanese) with battlefields and saw it is as bad luck. So instead of using the word cut, they used “stab” (“刺す” (sasu) in Japanese) and the word “osashimi” became rooted as stabbed raw fish.


Kansai region: People say “otsukuri” with kanji “お造り”

・ The word “otsukuri” came from the meaning that Japanese people serve sashimi with additional cooking method such as serve with kombu-sandwiched, etc. The word otsukuri means create something in Japanese so Japanese people in Kansai region think sashimi is something not serving only raw fish cut in pieces directly to the customers but with additional serving style.


3.Different Expression of “Finger Food” 



Japanese people love eating finger food while drinking at izakaya or restaurants. When you want to order some finger food at izakaya, how would you express the word finger food in Japanese?


Here is the difference way of saying that finger food as follows:

Kanto region: People say “otsumami” with the kanji “おつまみ” or “肴”

・ The word “otsumami”came from the meaning of grabing food using your fingers and otsumami means the noun to “grab” in Japanese.


Kansai region: People say “ate” with the kanji  “肴”

・ The word “ate” came from the meaning that finger food is something needed for drinking. The word ate means “provide” in Japanese so people in Kansai region think ordering finger food means providing some finger food for drinking alcohol.




If you travel around Japan either in the Kanto or Kansai region, hopefully now you can see there are some different ways of expressing the same word. Especially if you go out for eating or drinking at izakaya and hear the unusual word for ordering the menu wondering “what does this mean?” or “why do people say it in this way?” you can see it’s just the different way of expression and both meanings are the same.

It’s not a dialect but expression difference. Which way do you prefer, Kanto region expression or Kansai region expression? Remember both and use them flexibly!