365 Days of Japanese Day #20

Toyohashi Flag

Yesterday I showed an image of a local Toyohashi speciality dish. The dish is called “Toyohashi Curry Udon” and it is absolutely delicious. Later in the year I will write a special entry all about Toyohashi Curry Udon.

Today I want to talk about the word “itadakimasu”, which came up yesterday and is related to eating.

いただきます
“itadakimasu”
to receive, to get, to accept, to take (humble)

The above is the literal meaning of the word. But what does that have to do with eating?

In Japan “itadakimasu” is said before starting a meal. As a Westerner, it really feels a lot like a little saying of grace, as is done in some religions such as Christianity.

However, there is no religious context for it, I believe.

I love “itadakimasu” and say it quite often even now I live back in England.

Here is a fantastic post on the Tofugu blog all about “itadakimasu”. I recommend reading the whole thing but especially watching the three videos of Mami Suzuki saying “itadakimasu” at different levels of politeness. That gives you an excellent idea of how the phrase is delivered.

There is another sentence that I also really like that is said at the end of a meal.

御馳走様でした (ごちそうさまでした)
“gochisousama deshita”
Thank you for the delicious meal!

That translation is far from literal, but it is what is meant by “gochisousama deshita” when said after eating. More literally the phrase means “It was a feast!”

御馳走 (ごちそう)
“gochisou”
feast

様 (さま)
“sama”
an honorific that can be attached to other words, often people’s names

でした
“deshita”
past form of “is” = “was

When saying “gochisousama deshita” you typically address it to the provider of the meal (perhaps your host, or to the staff of a restaurant as you leave).

It is another phrase that I still say sometimes even in the UK. It just feels so classy.

Today’s cover picture is the flag of Toyohashi. For once, it is not a clue as to what tomorrow’s entry will be about. I just thought it was a nice crossover with yesterday’s cover image.

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