Kunigami language

Ryukyuan language spoken in the northern Okinawa Island

The Kunigami language (Kunigami: 山原言葉, Yanbaru kutūba) is an endangered Ryukyuan language spoken in the Kunigami area of Okinawa, Japan.[1]

Kunigami language
Native toJapan
RegionNorthern Okinawa
EthnicityRyukyuan people
Native speakers
5,000 (2004)
Language codes
ISO 639-3xug

Japan calls it a dialect while most linguists put Kunigami as its own language within the Ryukyuan languages group.

Kunigami is somewhat understandable to people who speak the Okinawan language. However, Japanese speakers wouldn’t be able to understand Kunigami. There are also different dialects of Kunigami, such as the one on Okinoerabu.



Okinoerabu dialect


Thank you. = みへでぃろ。(Mihediro).

Welcome. = うがみやぶら。/ めんしょーり。(Ugamiyabura. / Menshoori.)

A famous sanshin song known as “Aha Bushi” is sung in Kunigami.



  1. Heinrich, Patrick (2014-08-25). "Use them or lose them: There's more at stake than language in reviving Ryukyuan tongues". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2020-08-03.