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What Japanese Say Before Eating?

In Japan, it is customary to say "itadakimasu" (いただきます) before starting a meal. In english, it is often translated as "I humbly receive" or "let's eat.” It is a way of expressing gratitude for the food and showing respect for the efforts put into preparing it. Saying "itadakimasu" is considered polite and is a common practice in Japanese culture.

The phrase "itadakimasu" has deep cultural and historical roots in Japan. Its origins can be traced back to the influence of Buddhism, which had a significant impact on various aspects of Japanese culture, including table manners and expressions of gratitude.

In Buddhism, the act of receiving food is considered sacred as it represents receiving the sustenance necessary for life. Monks and practitioners of Buddhism would often recite a prayer or mantra before eating to express their gratitude for the food and acknowledge the interconnectedness of all beings involved in the process of providing nourishment.

Over time, this practice of expressing gratitude before meals became more widespread in Japanese society, not limited to just Buddhist practitioners. The term "itadakimasu" emerged as a way to convey a sense of gratitude and respect for the food being received. The word itself is derived from the humble verb "itadaku," which means "to receive" or "to accept."

Using "itadakimasu" before a meal serves several purposes. Firstly, it shows appreciation for the effort and hard work put into preparing the food. It acknowledges the farmers, fishermen, chefs, and everyone involved in the production and distribution of the meal. Additionally, it recognizes the sacrifice of the animals or plants that provided the sustenance.

Moreover, saying "itadakimasu" is also a way of reflecting on one's own blessings and expressing humility. It reminds individuals to be grateful for the abundance of food and the opportunity to nourish themselves.

Overall, the phrase "itadakimasu" has become an integral part of Japanese dining etiquette, ingrained in the culture as a gesture of gratitude and respect towards food, nature, and one another. It reflects the values of mindfulness, interconnectedness, and appreciation for the simple act of sharing a meal.


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