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Why Do Japanese Say Itadakimasu Before They Start Eating

We notice that Japanese people (either on the Japanese TV channel that we’re watching, or a Japanese person that you’ve met) always say “Itadakimasu” before eating. We could be wondering why do they utter such a word before they eat.

“Itadakimasu” is formed by “itadaku”, which is the verb “to receive”, plus “masu” which is the polite form. There is no true equivalent to the word “itadakimasu” in English, but it can be roughly translated to “I humbly receive” or “I’m about to receive”.

There are three reasons for saying “itadakimasu”:

1. As a way to be thankful

This word implies thankfulness, giving thanks to the Gods. Such as in the Buddhist principle in which they respect all living things.

The concept also apparently came from the Shinto, a unique Japanese religion that only exists in Japan. As a matter of fact, people say “Itadakimasu” by putting both palms together. This looks exactly the same as at shrines.

Thus, saying “itadakimasu” means the person thanked the animals and plants that gave their lives, so we could eat. As well as thanking all the people involved in getting us the food. In the end, it has a profound meaning of appreciation.

2. As a way to say “let’s eat”

For the younger generation, they keep saying “itadakimasu” to say “let’s eat”. They just want to thank others for the delicious meal. Although they kind of lost the essence, they still do it anyway.

3. As a habit

The use of “itadakimasu” began mostly in the 20th century. Until today, all the Japanese have been brought up at home and schools to say “itadakimasu”, making it a common custom for them.

Saying “itadakimasu” at the table also affected their eating manners. Japanese people barely walk nor make noises during this moment of appreciation before every meal. This is the habit of older Japanese people, or traditional families in the rural areas of Japan.

Please note that we should not say “itadakimasu” to a Japanese person if we are not eating. It can be perceived as if you were asking the person to share their meal with you.

After The Meal

If you try to follow saying “itadakimasu” before you are eating Japanese foods at a Japanese restaurant, you can be even more polite by saying “gochisoumama” or “gochisousamadeshita”. It means you were saying, “thank you for the good food, it was quite a feast”.

Saying “gochisousamadeshita”, pronounced goch-soo-sah-mah-desh-tah, means you are thanking the person that prepared the meal, the person that paid for the meal, as well as the restaurant staff.

Speaking of the topic, do you want to practice the Japanese common table manner now? Head to Sakae Sushi outlets now, or you can enjoy it at the comfort of your home. Order online now through our website: and we will happily deliver your favourite Japanese meals!

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