Speaking in the countryside will not be a problem, but understanding the replies could take some practice. Toshi totte iru (“elderly”; literally, “taking years”) people have a tendency to communicate in the local dialects, but young people are starting to reclaim these dialects as well.
New Question Indicator
In rural areas, you may hear the question indicator ka replaced by the more colloquial no:
Nasubi wa iranai no.
Don't you need some eggplant?
Get a group of people from different parts of Japan in the same room and the conversation will inevitably shift to dialects and their nuances. You may be surprised at the variation in terms as the comparisons make the rounds of regions. It is a great source of amusement and regional pride for the people involved to try and explain the history of their individual colloquialisms.
This way of asking a question is gentler and is more commonly used by women. No also shows up as an audible pause (like “um” or “uh”) as people struggle to communicate the unique deliciousness of their daikon (“Japanese radish”) or kaki (“persimmon”). In this way, it resembles the ne sometimes used when trying to get someone's attention:
Ano ne, kono daikon wa oishii yo.
Hey, um, this long radish is tasty!
Aside from these subtle semantic differences, there are entire words and phrases whose connection to standard Japanese is elusive, to say the least. Using contextual clues, most Japanese people can guess at the meaning of local vocabulary words.
Travel to Sado-ga-shima, an island in the Sea of Japan, and you will find colloquialisms from all over the country. Sado-ben (“Sado's dialect”) has many words in common with the area around Kyooto, referred to as “Kansai.” There used to be a ship that traveled from Kansai to Sado and then north to the island of Hokkaido called the Kitamaebune. This ship loaded and deposited many colloquialisms from Kyooto to Sado.
For example, the phrase tori ga utau (“birds sing”) is used in both Kansai and on Sado, but in other parts of Japan, people say tori ga naku (“birds cry”). Other Kyooto-influences can be seen in the words tessho (“dish”) and nekui (“warm”).
Another colloquialism from Sado is daccha. It is a twisted version of desu and is used to express emphasis.
Sore wa ii-n daccha.
Sometimes this shortened form of desu is further abbreviated into a just plain cha. It can also be attached to verbs, adjectives, or adverbs to create interesting new words. Recent resurgences of local pride have moved people to highlight this unique phrase by adding it to roadside signs, community newsletters, and T-shirts.
Kore wa umeeccha.
This is scrumptious.
Efforts to preserve Sado-ben can be seen most distinctly in the work of Sooei Kodama. His hobby is collecting Sado folktales and then making them into children's books. By recording the stories in Sado's dialect and enlisting local wood-block print and paper collage artists to do the illustrations, Kodoma has helped to preserve local storytelling traditions.