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What do Japanese say before eating a meal?

1. Introduction

It is a common practice in many cultures around the world to say grace before eating a meal. Japan is no exception, and there are many expressions used by Japanese people before they begin their meal. Saying grace is an important part of Japanese culture, as it shows respect for the food and those who prepared it. In this article, we will explore what Japanese people say before eating a meal, as well as etiquette associated with saying grace in Japan.

2. The History of Saying Grace in Japan

Saying grace before meals has been a part of the Japanese culture for centuries. It dates back to the 8th century when Shintoism was the main religion practiced in Japan. In Shintoism, food was considered sacred and offering thanks to the gods was seen as essential before consuming it. As Buddhism spread throughout Japan during the 6th century, so too did the practice of saying grace before meals. Since then, saying grace has become a deeply embedded part of Japanese culture and is still practiced today among many families and communities across Japan.

Japanese Snack Box

3. Common Expressions Used Before Eating a Meal

The most common expression used by Japanese people before eating a meal is “itadakimasu” (いただきます). This expression can be translated literally as “I humbly receive” or “I gratefully accept” and is used to thank those who prepared the food for their effort and generosity. After eating, another expression “gochisousama deshita” (ごちそうさまでした) is often used which translates to “thank you for the feast” or “that was delicious”.

4. Etiquette When Eating with Others

When eating with others in Japan, there are certain etiquette rules that should be followed when saying grace before meals. It is polite to wait until everyone at the table has been served their food and then say “itadakimasu” together simultaneously or one after another in order from oldest to youngest at the table. Additionally, if someone else has cooked or prepared your meal it is polite to thank them personally after saying grace together as a group or family members at home.

5. Different Ways to Say Grace in Japan

In addition to using “itadakimasu” and “gochisousama deshita” there are other ways that people can express gratitude for their meals in Japan such as using more formal expressions like “meshi agare” (召し上がれ), which translates roughly into English as “may you enjoy your meal” or more casual expressions like “oishii desu ne?” (おいしいですね?), which means something along the lines of “this looks delicious!”

6 Regional Differences in Saying Grace

Although these expressions are widely used across all regions of Japan, there are some regional differences when it comes to how they are said or even what words are used altogether instead of “itadakimasu” and “gochisousama desu”. For example, people living on Okinawa Island may use “domo arigatou gozaimashita” instead of “itadakimasu”. Additionally, some regions may have different variations on how they express gratitude such as bowing slightly while saying “itadakimasu”.

7 How to Say Grace During Special Occasions

There are also special occasions where different expressions may be used when saying grace prior to eating a meal such as New Year’s Day or other traditional holidays where more formal language may be appropriate such as “kanpai” (乾杯) which means “cheers” or “kampai” (乾杯) which means “to your health”.

8 Conclusion

In conclusion, saying grace before meals has been an important part of Japanese culture for centuries and continues today among many families across all regions of Japan with slight variations depending on where you live or what occasion you’re celebrating. Whether you use simple expressions like “itadakimasu” or more formal ones like “kanpai”, expressing gratitude for your food will always be appreciated by those around you!

9 Resources

Tokoyama C R (2021). What Do Japanese Say Before Eating A Meal? Retrieved from https://www.japaninsidersblog/what-do-japanese-say-before-eating-a-meal/

What do Japanese say before they eat?

Before eating, Japanese people say itadakimasu, a polite phrase meaning I receive this food. This expresses thanks to whoever worked to prepare the food in the meal.

What do Japanese say before and after eating?

Say hello before and after a meal: Itadakimasu and Gochisosama Before a meal the Japanese say itadakimasu with their hands folded across their chest. When this is done they make the same gesture as they say Gochisosama. These greetings are part of everyday life.

Do all Japanese say itadakimasu before eating?

Itadakimasu is taught in schools and at home and almost all Japanese say it before lunch. One study suggests that about 7 percent of all Japanese do nothing before eating (saying itadakimasu and/or folding their hands).

What is the Japanese restaurant greeting?

Upon entering a restaurant, customers are greeted with the expression irasshaimase meaning welcome, please come in. The waiter or waitress will ask you how many people are in your party and then lead you to your table.

Can you just say arigato?

Arigato gozaimashita / thank you (past) If the interlocutor is someone you know well you can use the simple version of arigato.

What is Bon Appetit in Japanese?

Itadakimasu Eat a lot in Japanese.

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