Master Sanuki-ben with this guide and fit in with the locals


Kagawa Prefecture Has Sanuki-ben

Beautiful Takamatsu Station and Sunport area near the Seto Inland Sea

What is Sanuki-ben and why should you study it?

Sanuki-ben is the local regional dialect of the Japanese language in Kagawa prefecture. Kagawa is Japan’s smallest prefecture, yet Sanuki-ben is divided into two versions: eastern Sanuki-ben and western Sanuki-ben. Anyone who is living in Kagawa or visiting can use this basic guide of essential expressions to navigate the unique dialect and communicate with locals in their native language. Language is always a fun topic of conversation when meeting someone new in Japan, so speaking a little Sanuki-ben can act as an ice-breaker. Native Sanuki-ben speaking Kagawa residents can also use this guide to teach tourists, visitors, or international residents some Sanuki-ben to help them on their way.

This guide of essential Sanuki-ben is designed for anyone, regardless of experience with the Japanese language. We have prepared several useful expressions and translated them into standard Japanese as well as English. There are also recorded samples of the examples to master the correct pronunciation. Sanuki-ben is a little more complex than other dialects in Japan, but this guide will give you a solid foundation to have you speaking like a native Kagawan in no time at all.

15 Sanuki-ben Expressions with Standard Japanese, English, and Audio Examples

sanuki ben kagawa prefecture

A wild bird lands on the hand of a Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage traveler for a snack.

sanuki ben udon shinpei

Sanuki udon is Kagawa’s soul food with over 600 shops in the prefecture.

sanuki ben seto inland sea

The sun sets into the Seto Inland Sea behind the Great Seto Bridge and islands of Kagawa Prefecture.

itadaki san sanuki ben

Kagawa Prefecture is the last prefecture in Japan with ‘itadakisan’ (fish peddlers) still selling fish on bicycle carts.

The Most Famous Sanuki-ben Sentence

Now that you understand some basic Sanuki-ben, here’s the king of all expressions in this dialect. The following example was actually said in a conversation about New Year’s postcards which went something like this:

A: Do you write many New Year’s postcards every year?
B: No. I don’t write them, so no one sends them to me. And since no one sends them to me, I don’t write them.

And now let’s hear it in Sanuki-ben.

16. I don’t write them, so no one sends them. No one sends them, so I don’t write them. – かかんきんこん、こんきんかかん。(kakan kin kon, kon kin kakan.)

かかんきんこん、こんきんかかん。= 書かないので、来ない。来ないので、書かない

When In Rome, Do as the Romans Do!

This guide to Sanuki-ben is a good start to understanding the language and culture of Kagawa Prefecture on a deeper level. It will help you get started but the best way to learn and practice Sanuki-ben is to go out and try it for yourself! When you meet local people from Kagawa, don’t be an ottachama (scaredy-cat)! Start up a conversation in the local dialect. Most people are happy to talk to you and even teach you some new words and expressions. Have fun!