Today, two very commonly word used in Japan that I will be introducing is;
– Itadakimasu (いただきます)
– Gochisousama (ごちそうさま)
What does it mean?
Itadakimasu is said before a meal, especially when eating alongside someone or with a group of people. It is an expression of gratitude to those who were involved in the preparation of the meal, such as those who cooked the food, served the food, grew the vegetables, and caught the fish.
“Gochisosama” has the exact same meaning as “Itadakimasu” except it is used when you are finished with your meal. When saying either one of these words before or after your meal, you put your hands together in front of you like shown in the picture below!
What is the origin of the word?
In order to survive, we need to eat a well-balanced diet of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits to nourish ourselves. However, in order for us to nourish ourselves, animals and plants have to be sacrificed. The greeting before and after a meal has the meaning of “I thank you for the life you give to me and let it become my life.
“Itadakimasu” has the meaning of thanking all the people involved in the process of serving the food. For example, a bowl of miso soup requires the involvement of many people: those who made the miso and tofu, those who grew the wakame seaweed and green onions, those who planned the menu, those who purchased the ingredients, and those who cooked the soup. It is important to say “Itadakimasu” when we eat a meal to express our gratitude to all the people involved in the meal.
To wrap it up
In other countries, religious rituals are observed during meals, but in some countries, greetings such as “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisousama” are not used. These two words strongly reflect the Japanese way of thinking and food culture.
Although it is a casual greeting used everyday, when saying these words, we are given the chance to properly think about it, and we are reminded of the importance and gratitude towards the food we consume everyday.