Itadakimasu and Gochisousama Deshita are two Japanese expressions used during meals to thank food. What few know is its real meaning and history, so we are going to study these two words in Japanese in depth.
Itadakimasu [頂きます] is an expression used before meals that literally means “to receive“. It is used to show gratitude for the food and involved. It is customary to bow your head and join your hands as if in prayer.
Gochisousama Deshita [御馳走様でした] something like itadakimasu, but it is used after meals and can literally be translated as thanks for the meal. You don't necessarily have to say these two expressions out loud.
The History of Itadakimasu
The kanji used in the word Itadakimasu [頂] also means “top”, and the verb itadaku [頂く] originally means "to put something over your head". Long ago, people put food above their heads before eating, especially when the food was provided by a person of higher social status. This gesture gave rise to the expression itadakimasu [いただきます].
As Japan has a Buddhist cultural background, it is not surprising that Itadakimasu it is also related to the Buddhist principle of respecting all living beings.
Before meals, Itadakimasu it is said as a thank you to the plants and animals that gave their lives for the meal you are about to consume. He also thanks everyone involved, ranging from the hunter, the farmer, the rice, God and whoever prepared the meal.
The act of joining hands and lowering the head is part of this Buddhist principle. The word Itadakimasu it is part of Japanese daily life. No matter what religion, it should be used as well as a “thanks”To thank for the meals.
There is a Japanese saying that emphasizes thanking all the elements that make up the food:
- お 米一粒一粒には、七人の神様が住んでいる。
- The komehitotsubu hitotsubu ni wa, nana-ri no kamisama ga sunde iru;
- 7 Gods live on a single grain of rice;
This saying also emphasizes another custom of never leaving food on the plate. This is also related to Buddhist philosophy that all life is sacred. Even chopstick eating has its rules.
Do all Japanese speak itadakimasu?
Some religions that do not want to have a relationship with Buddhism, simply avoid joining hands and lowering their heads, but speak itadakimasu and gochisousama deshita usually. Only not all Japanese say itadakimasu currently.
Surveys reveal that about 64% of the Japanese put their hands and speak itadakimasu, while 28% just speaks, 1% just join hands and 6% do absolutely nothing.
The custom of joining hands and lowering the head came from the Buddhist sect Jodo-Shinshu, which is most concentrated in Hiroshima and the south of the country. About 90% of the people of that region have the custom of joining hands.
In Hokkaido and Northern Japan, this custom is much less. It may happen that some Japanese speak the words in a very low voice itadakimasu and gochisousama deshita, as if they were ashamed.
Itadakimasu meanings and uses
Everyone knows that words take on different meanings unrelated to their origin. Likewise, Itadakimasu can be understood with several other meanings.
When it is related to food kinds, can be understood as: “Let's eat”, “Bon appétit”, or “Thanks for the food.” Some even compare that word to the Christian tradition of saying benevolence before a meal.
Itadakimasu is used not only when eating a meal, but you can tell when accepting something or a gift from someone. Remember that the literal translation of the word means “I humbly receive“, So this total makes sense.
For example, if someone gives you a gift, or if you get a free sample from a store, you can use itadakimasu. Almost anytime you receive something, you can use itadakimasu.
To get a better idea of when it is appropriate to use itadakimasu out of food-related situations, you can watch some drama or anime and pay attention when itadakimasu is said.
It really is not every moment that you will speak itadakimasu, there are many ways to thank in Japanese, just in time you will learn the right way for each occasion.
What does Gochisousama Deshita mean?
While Itadakimasu thanks everyone involved in the production of the food, the Gochisousama Deshita usually emphasizes cooks or whoever serves the food. It can literally be: "Thanks for the delicious meal!"
Let's see the literal translation of the word Gochisousama Deshita [御馳走様でした]:
- Go - 御 - A respectful prefix, similar to the “お” of [お金], [お元気], etc;
- Chisou - 馳走 - It means delight, banquet, party, pleasant meal, good food and others;
- Sama - 様 - Very respectful and honorable suffix used with customers and even for kings and gods;
- Deshita - でした - Conjugation in the past, as if it were a “was“.
Formerly the word chiso [馳走] meant running or making every effort. In the past, people rode horses and ran to collect food for the guests.
Even though they did not involve horses, people also needed to run to prepare the guests' meals. Soon that word began to include the meaning of inviting people to eat.
At the end of Edo Period (1603-1868) the words GO [御] and SAMA [様] were added to show appreciation, so the Japanese soon started using gochisousama after meals.
There is a lot of work and effort from many people behind every meal we eat. Saying this in a restaurant strongly emphasizes that you liked the food.
Gochisosama [御馳走様] need not be literally used after a meal. You can use it to thank you for a meal from another day, some food you won and things like that.
In a restaurant, the gochisousama it must be redirected to the cook and not the people present at the table. So in certain restaurants you can thank the cashier when you pay for your meal.
You can also add totemo oishikatta [とても美味しかった] was very good, after the sentence of gochisousama deshita. It may be a little informal, but it indicates that you enjoyed the meal very much.
This is further proof that Japanese culture and its language is full of education and respect. And do you think of those words? Do you make use of them? If you liked the article, share and leave your comments!
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