This paper will report and analyze ongoing changes in the accentual system of Hokkaido
Japanese (HJ), a regional variety spoken on the northernmost islands of the Japanese archipelago,
originating in relatively recent settlement from mainland Japan. In recent years, as in almost all regions of
Japan, HJ has undergone dialect levelling towards standard (Tokyo) Japanese (TJ). Although the
accentual system of HJ, in terms of the possible number of contrastive accent patterns and the prosodic
characteristics that define them, is largely identical to that of TJ, traditional HJ differs significantly from TJ
in which lexical items are realised with which accent pattern.
Adopting an analysis using Kindaichiʼs word-accent classes (Kindaichi, 1973; 1975), this paper will
examine accent class correspondences in bimoraic native nouns, based on a survey 24 native speakers of
HJ from four different areas across the island. The results of this survey illustrate a clear pattern of agestratified
variation in accent class correspondences that are shown to be consistent with a broader dialect
levelling trend towards TJ. However, the pace of this process does not appear consistent across all survey
sites, suggesting possible implications for media-driven models of dialect levelling in Japan.