I believe you have seen how itadakimasu is used on TVs and movies just before eating a meal. Most people from America or other cultures who do not follow religious ways do not say anything before eating. This phrase “itadakimasu” is universal in Japan and its importance serves multiple purposes. Itadakimasu translates to “I humbly receive” and is compared to Christian religion of saying grace before a meal.
1. Meaning of Itadakimasu
“Itadaku” is a phrase meaning take. Japan being a Buddhist culture, itadakimasu is used when receiving or taking something from some above you or higher in authority than you. Before taking a meal in Japan, the phrase is used to thank the plants and animals for giving their lives for the meal. It is used to thank everyone who participated in preparing the meal including farmers, and fishermen.
2. How to Use Itadakimasu
If you are about to take your meal or sharing it with friends or family, it is acceptable to say itadakimasu in unison. You should bow your head; clasp your hands together when you say the phrase. However, one person can also say it. For those who are still having an issue pronouncing the phrase, here is how to do it “ee-tah-dah-kee-mah-su”. Having written instructions does not help much thus listen to videos or people pronounce it, will give a good understanding.
3. Possible Origins
Top levels of mountains are also known as “itadaki” and that’s where the phrase comes from. It is assumed that when you look at a pile of food, you see yourself about to make a journey from the top of the mountain. Looking at it differently is when bowing and lifting your hands to say itadakimasu, your body takes the form of a mountain.
4. Finish Your Plate
It is known to be wasteful if you do not finish your food since something gave up its life for your meal. Japanese food size is generally small and it is disrespectful to leave it to waste. The Japanese are very mindful of the process that took place to present the food to the table thus making it very important to finish your food. You might be thinking, what if I don’t like the food? Don’t worry you will be forgiven if you can’t finish. You may offer it to your companions; one may eat it.
5. Other Ways to Use Itadakimasu
This phrase is not only used before a meal but has other uses as well. Since it is translated to I humbly receive, it is normally used when receiving or accepting a gift from someone. A good example is when you receive a free sample in a shop you can say itadakimasu. Anytime you are receiving something the phrase can apply.
Did you learn something new? Itadakimasu will be one of the phrases you will learn when you visit Japan. If you are a foreigner it is good to participate in cultural activities as the Japanese do. I hope you now have a better understanding of itadakimasu.
Have a good trip and travel!