Monday, June 22, 2009

What's another word for "Oishii"?

After living in Japan for a while, reading manga, watching TV, going to restaurants, etc., I started wondering if the Japanese had any other words for describing good food beyond oishii (for women) and umai (mainly used by men, occasionally pronounced “umee”). Then, as I was about to ask this question, I found myself at MOS Burger for lunch. And there, printed on the menu was this little blurb: "We asked the staff at 28 of our shops around Japan to tell us how they say that food is “sugoku oishii” (really delicious) in their part of the country. Below are the answers". The first part of each line is the answer in a specific dialect, and the second part is the prefecture (or town) where that dialect is spoken.

Note that “e” is soft, as in “open”; “u” is hard, as in “you”; “o” is hard, as in “ghost”; “a” is soft, as in “ah”; and “i” sounds like a hard “e”, as in “see”. Combined vowels “ii” and “ee” are held twice as long; “ai” is pronounced like a hard “i”, as in “sigh”.

Buchi umaitcha --------- Yamaguchi
Mageni maizunee -------- Shimane
Bokkee umee ------------ Okayama
Tadda nmee ------------- Ishikawa
Nanmara umai ----------- Hokkaido
Ikkyona umakabai ------- Nagasaki
Gabai umakaa ----------- Saga
Gyaan oishiikaa -------- Fukuoka
Metcha oishiiyan ------- Hyogo
Do-i unmeimon datcha- -- Niigata
Nmai ------------------- Yamagata
Maanzu ume ------------- Akita
Mee -------------------- Aomori
Taigya umakaken -------- Kumamoto
Dogechi oishii --------- Oita
Mutcha umai ------------ Osaka
Umaini- ---------------- Mie
De-rya- umya- ---------- Aichi
Oishiijan -------------- Kanagawa
Iginari umee ----------- Miyagi
Ippe- ma-saibi-ndo- ---- Okinawa
Wazze umai ------------- Kagoshima
Deke umee -------------- Miyazaki
Kojanto umaizeyo ------- Kochi
Yaniko- umai ----------- Akiyama
Erai umaikke ----------- Shizuoka
Hanpanee umai ---------- Tokyo
Umakappe yo- ----------- Ibaragi

Note also that the majority of the word variations are on “sugoku” which means “a lot”, or “really”. Otherwise, the rest of the phrases are just modified pronunciations of “umai”. (So, to answer my original question, no (at least, not an alternate word that is in common usage). The primary words for describing good food are umai and oishii).

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