Japanese Food: What Do "Itadakimasu" and "Gochisōsama" Mean?

Eating Japanese food often comes with a set of traditional etiquette rules to follow

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

There is a proper way to eat and be thankful for Japanese food.

Eating Japanese food, especially when visiting Japan, often comes with a set of rules or dining etiquette. You’ll find that such etiquette can be observed in Japanese restaurants throughout the country as well as in many Japanese homes. Japanese food is rich in culture and tradition, and as such, Japanese dining etiquette is, too.

Traditionally, many meals in Japan begin with the phrase “itadakimasu,” which means “I humbly receive this meal.” By saying "itadakimasu," the diner expresses gratitude for the meal and the entire process of putting together the meal, from the hunting or the cultivating of the food to preparing it to be put on the table.

Once the meal is complete, it is polite to say “gochisōsama,” which means “you were a feast preparer.” The word sama is one the is associated with honor and indicates respect for a person for preparing such a meal.