Kansai vs. Kanto: Taking a Look at Japan’s Regional Differences!

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  • Communication Differences: Polite Kantō vs. Open-Hearted Kansai.
  • In Kantō, people order dishes such as “kitsune udon” or “tanuki soba,” combining topping with noodles. That order would likely not be understood in Kansai, however.
  • The picture on the left shows oshiruko, a traditional Japanese dessert. On the right, you also see oshiruko - but it’s from Kantō.
  • The approximate border between Kantō and Kansai.

Generally, however, people tend to divide Japan into two major cultural areas: Kantō in the East and Kansai in the West. Tokyo and its metropolitan area make up Kantō, the center of Japan’s politics and economics since Tokyo became the country’s capital in 1869. Its counterpart is Kansai, centered on Kyoto, the ancient city that has been the capital from 794 to 1869. Osaka, known as a major gourmet hot spot and often called the "kitchen of Japan," is also part of Kansai. Of course, such a cultural divide brings its very own subtle and not-so-subtle differences in everyday life, from etiquette to language.

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