The deeper meaning and correct usage of “Itadakimasu


Almost all Japanese say “Itadakimasu” before eating.

Some say it out loud, while others say it in their hearts. There are also those who have the custom of saying “Itadakimasu” with their palms folded in front of their mouths.

This section explains the meaning and correct usage of “Itadakimasu” in Japanese.


To whom do we say “Itadakimasu”?


What non-Japanese may wonder most is to whom “Itadakimasu” is a greeting.

“Itadakimasu” is a phrase that expresses gratitude for the food and for being able to eat.

“Itadakimasu” is a little different from “Let’s eat” or “Gochisososama desu!

Japanese people are taught by their parents at an early age to say “Itadakimasu” before meals as an expression of gratitude to the people who produced the food and to the food itself for sharing its nourishment at the cost of their own lives.

In other words, “Itadakimasu” is a word with a very deep meaning to express gratitude to someone or something unseen.

Japanese dining etiquette and the usage of “Itadakimasu”.


Japanese people unconsciously say “Itadakimasu” before meals as a matter of course.

We never forget to say “Itadakimasu” before meals, no matter how busy or grumpy we are.

“Itadakimasu” is not a greeting that is said directly to the other person, but is more like an ingrained prayer.

It is said that this is related to the Zen manner in Buddhism.

In the Zen world, the rituals and procedures for eating are strictly prescribed. Before each meal, a short sutra is chanted.

The sutra has the same meaning as “Itadakimasu” (Thank you for the food), so I will introduce it here.

Preparation for Eating in Zen (from a short sutra before meals)

The rice and vegetables you are about to put in your mouth are deeply considered in the process of getting here. We have the ingredients and the person who prepares the food. There are people who purchase the ingredients and provide them to us. There are people who grow the rice and vegetables. Let us be thankful for the labor and hard work of so many people and the blessings of nature that nurture our crops …… that all life is connected and allows us to eat.

Think about whether you are living and acting in a way that is worthy of that much labor and life. Let us eat while thinking about whether we are living for the world and for others, and reflecting on our shortcomings.

We are born with both a good heart and a bad heart. When we are swept away by the bad, we become greedy, angry, envious, and selfish, and our hearts become poor. Let us cut off these mistakes, look at our own good hearts, and eat our meals with a humble heart.

Meals are not merely to satisfy hunger. We eat to nourish our bodies and maintain and improve our health. Think of food as good medicine.

◎If you would like to learn more about this sutra in more detail and with greater accuracy, please read this book.

the Zen manner in Buddhism

“Itadakimasu” is the wisdom to enjoy your meal with care.

Zen practitioners chant sutras and eat their meals with care and devotion. This is because it is part of their training.

We do not have to go that far, but we can share the same feeling of taking the food in front of us with care and reverence.

“Itadakimasu” has the effect of nurturing such a state of mind, and I would like to recommend it to people all over the world.

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