Wanna learn Kumamoto-ben? Have no interest in Kumamoto-ben but somehow ended up on this page? Not sure why you can’t understand the obaa-chan who always smiles at you from down the street? Have we got a guide for you!
First, what is Kumamoto-ben?
Kumamoto-ben is a dialect spoken primarily in Kumamoto which shares similarities with dialects from the prefectures around it, like Fukuoka, Saga, and Nagasaki and other Kyushu areas. It’s why that obaa-chan says “Atsukaa~” instead of “Atsui ne~” and why your students might say “Wakaran :(” instead of “Wakaranai“.
For the basics of Kumamoto-ben, check out this primer from the JLect forums. Our very own prefectural advisors have created a guide to speaking Kumamoto-ben, while JETs from Hitoyoshi in Kuma-gun have created their own guide from personal experience with common words and collocations. JLect has also collated a Kumamoto-ben dictionary which may be helpful.
For listening practice, check out the Kumamoto anime, “Natsunagu!” which was commissioned by the Kumamoto prefectural government for earthquake revitalisation and increasing tourism and visibility. Each episode is only around five minutes, so it’s an easy thing to add to your day.