The art of appreciation – Itadakimasu

Itadakimasu is one of the first words we hear when we watch anime in Japanese. We have seen Naruto say it before he eats his ramen, and we have seen it in Toriko before Toriko starts eating the food he caught and cooked. Sometimes you might have even seen friends that are into anime say itadakimasu before eating. Why is itadakimasu so important? Let’s have a look.

It is not just a part of Japanese etiquette; it is part of the Japanese way of living to say it before a meal. Loosely translated it means ‘I humbly receive’ but in connection with food it can also mean ‘Let’s eat’, or ‘Thanks for the food’. It is a humble expression of thankfulness that might be compared to the Christian practice of saying grace before a meal.

It can also be related to the Buddhist and Shinto principle of respecting all living things and as such a way to show thankfulness towards the plants and animals that gave their lives for the meal that you are about to eat, but it also encompasses the hunter that hunted the meat, the person that cooked the meal, that one-word itadakimasu gives thanks to all of that in one go. It is a very spiritual humble way of showing appreciation before a meal.

Itadakimasu is usually said together at the table by all that is about to eat, or by people individually or some say it quietly before starting to eat. The proper way to say it is like we have seen it in anime. You say itadakimasu, clasping your hands and with a slight bow.

Itadakimasu is used in other ways as well. You can also say itadakimasu when accepting something from someone because it translates to ‘I humbly receive’. Also when receiving a free sample at a store you can say to the person handing it out: ‘Itadakimasu’.

There are many more ways to use ‘itadakimasu’ and the best way to learn them is to keep watching anime, Japanese Movies and J-dramas.