Different Countries in One
In almost every country in the world, things are going to be different in different areas of that country. Even in a country as young as the US there are very big differences between different areas. Japan is no exception.
Japan wasn’t a unified country until the early 1600’s. Despite it becoming a single country, many differences have persisted even till today. Some differences are difficult to see, but then there are some stark differences.
Are you speaking Japanese?
Any Japanese textbook that you study will be teaching you the standard polite Japanese. That is what I studied in school. Anyone in a professional position will speak to you that way (with the exception of restaurants. They’ll use the honorific language.) However, when you get out into the real world or off the beaten path, you may suddenly find that you can’t understand a word.
Home sweet home
I live down in the south west of Japan (referred to as western Japan by Japanese people.) When I came here, I really couldn’t speak any Japanese. Having studied for 2 and 1/2 years, though, I could at least recognize things. Well, until I got here. What I hadn’t known was that a dialect is spoken here. Stores were ok as long as it wasn’t official explanations. (For that they use the honorific Japanese.) when I spoke to regular people or people in privately owned shops, I had a problem understanding what people were saying. Especially older people.
A gourmet tour
Each area of Japan has it’s own style of food. And they have their own special dishes too. Even some of the “same” dishes are actually quite different.
Everyone’s image of Japan is that they eat sushi all of the time. True, sushi is very popular, but maybe a large part of it’s popularity is because it has become famous around the world. Actually, ramen and curry rice are eaten a lot more often than sushi. But not all ramen is the same. Each area of Japan has it’s own kind. I am particular to the pork broth ramen eaten down here where I live.
As you travel around Japan, you will experience many different dishes, dialects and even some customs. The good part is that as you practice standard Japanese, anyone will be able to understand what you are saying.