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Kaho’s Japanese Corner: Mensore

It’s the PCS season again. It’s the time to say “sayonara” to many of your friends. Sad. I know.

At the same time, you’ll welcome many new people. When I first arrived at the Naha Airport, I was greeted with MENSORE! So, this is the word to learn for you.

I’m not from Okinawa, so I only know a few words in Okinawan dialect and I’m sharing the one that I think you probably hear the most (I say this, but the real reason for teaching you this is that this is the only one I know how to use. 😛 ) It’s like a whole different language to me when someone speaks with the dialect and I think that it sounds really cool. I heard that many young Okinawans might understand, but don’t know how to speak the dialect any more.

As written above, the word “mensore” means welcome in Okinawan dialect. You hear or see this very often. Welcome in standard Japanese is “yokoso”.

This is on the side, but I wrote about “irasshaimase” before and I wrote that the translation for irasshaimase is welcome. What’s the difference between irasshaimase and mensore or yokoso? I was thinking about how I can explain the difference. Then I went online and saw some explanation that irasshaimase is like hello. This is to me right and wrong. It’s wrong in the sense that you can’t say “irasshaimase” back. Irasshaimase means welcome and used by restaurant or store employees to greet their customers and it’s used like hello. Mensore or yokoso are welcome in general and you use it when you welcome someone to a bigger establishment, city, or country.

So, you can teach your new friends to Okinawa how to say welcome:

Welcome to Okinawa. Okinawa e Mensore! Okinawa e Yokoso! You can also say “Yokoso Okinawa e!” Welcome to Chura Umi Aquarium. Mensore! Chura Umi Suizokukan e mensore!
Welcome to Japan! Nihon e yokoso!

If you are new to Okinawa Hai!, MENSORE!!