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'Shiwashiwa-ikinayo': Videos created for foreigners to learn Japan's colorful Awa dialect

This captured video shows Japanese phrases using Awa Ningyo Joruri puppets. (Photo courtesy of Tokushima Prefectural International Exchange Association)

TOKUSHIMA -- Tokushima Prefectural International Exchange Association (TOPIA) has created and released videos to teach the Tokushima dialect (Awa dialect) and daily conversation in an effort to help foreigners living in this western Japan prefecture learn Japanese.

    TOPIA hopes that the videos will be of use to foreigners who cannot attend Japanese language classes due to work or lack of transportation, and hopes that the videos will help them in their daily lives.

    A total of 15 videos have been prepared, including those featuring the Awa dialect and Awa Ningyo Joruri puppets. They are voiced mainly by the broadcasting clubs of high schools in the prefecture, and have been available since March.

    According to TOPIA, there are many people who speak the Awa dialect in Tokushima, and there have been inquiries from foreigners who have learned standard Japanese saying that they cannot understand the dialect. TOPIA has been introducing the dialect in paper-based Japanese language materials, but has created videos to help people learn the intonation and other aspects.

    This is a capture of a video introducing the Awa dialect. The dialect is written in red and standard Japanese is written in black. (Photo courtesy of Tokushima Prefectural International Exchange Association)

    They say that they chose the dialect, which is often heard in daily life, to introduce phrases such as "Sekoina (It's painful, isn't it?)" and "Shiwashiwa-ikinayo (Take your time, please)," along with standard Japanese and illustrations.

    The videos that feature Awa Ningyo Joruri puppets were created to help people learn Japanese while experiencing the traditional culture of Tokushima. Assuming conversations between superiors and subordinates or between friends, it introduces phrases in accordance with situations such as year-end and New Year greetings. There are also videos introducing Tokushima's folktales and culture, and TOPIA hopes that Japanese people will also watch them if they are interested.

    In fiscal 2021, they are creating videos that will allow foreigners to learn both the Awa dialect and onomatopoeia at the same time.

    The videos can be viewed on the TOPIA website at https://www.topia.ne.jp/english/ (click on "Japanese Class" in the attention box on the left) or on YouTube.

    (Japanese original by Sakura Iwamoto, Tokushima Bureau)

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