Japanese Greetings: What do Itadakimasu and Gochisousama mean?
Have you heard that Japanese saying “Itadakimasu” (いただきます) or “Gochisousama”(ごちそうさま)?
There are two words that may be difficult to understand for foreigners.
In this post I’m going to discuss what Itadakimasu and Gochisousama mean.
In Japan, emergency number for ambulance and fire trucks are different → Where to Call in Case of Emergency while in Japan?
Where can we buy Bento Boxes in Japan? → Go Green with Bento Box!
What does Itadakimasu Mean?
Basic Meaning of Itadakimasu
Japanese say “Itadakimasu” before starting meals.
Why do they say that?
It is because they are told to do so when they were children.
Then what does Itadakimasu mean?
Itadakimasu is polite way of saying Itadaku in Japanese.
Itadaku means to get something from someone who has higher social status.
For instance, if my boss gives me wine as a gift, I would use Itadaku (to be accurate, it would be Itadaita, which is past tense of Itadaku).
2 Meanings of Itadakimasu
There are two meanings for Itadakimasu.
The first meaning is that Japanese appreciate whoever cooked and prepared the meals.
This include chefs, someone who sells vegetables, meat and fish, someone who helps to distribute the meals etc…
Another meaning is that they also appreciate food itself.
It sounds something like this:
“Thank you fish for giving me your life. I will appreciate and keep living because of you. Thanks for letting me live.”
In some countries people say something before meals but it usually means “enjoy meals.” Examples are French and Italian.
Religious people might appreciate God but not people or food.
Thus Japanese Itadakimasu has different meaning compared to other cultures.
What does Gochisousama mean?
Basic Meaning of Gochisousama
Japanese say Gochisousama after meals.
There was no fridge and supermarket many years ago.
As a result, it was extremely difficult to collect and prepare meals everyday.
Now we have convenience store and fridge, so we can buy food whenever we want and we can store raw food in the fridge.
What is Gochisou?
Gochisou, by the way, means fancy or gorgeous food.
Anything could be Gochisou and if I think of examples in Canada and the US, Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving dinner would come to my mind.
Japanese say Gochisousama to appreciate those who prepare food.
“Thank you for preparing and cooking food for me. It was very delicious and I enjoyed it.”
Itadakimasu and Gochisousama are unique Japanese cultures.
When I was a kid, I didn’t really know why I had to say these.
I knew it was appreciation for food preparation but didn’t think of food.
In my opinion, teaching children what Itadakimasu and Gochisousama mean enrich their mind and point of view.
Parents shouldn’t force them to say it but rather teach its meaning so that they would understand and learn the importance of appreciating.
If they don’t understand, they might stop saying.
So it is very important!!
Do you have something similar in your country?
Do you know why you say those words?
Leave any comment below to share!
In Japan, emergency number for ambulance and fire trucks are different → Where to Call in Case of Emergency in Japan?
Where can we buy Bento Boxes in Japan? → Go Green with a Cute Bento Box!
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