Greeting during meals
Before eating meals, Japanese people join their hands in front of their chest and greet by saying, “Itadakimasu”.
After finishing a meal, the body form is the same, but the greeting is “Gochisosama”.
Similarly, when praying to a god or an ancestor, Japanese people also hold their hands this way to show respect and to join their own mind and body. Some people don’t join their hands and only speak the greetings. Japanese people naturally say these greetings as part of day-to-day manners.
What does “itadakimasu” mean?
“Itadakimasu” is the polite form of “itadaku”, which is a word to indicate modesty for taking and eating. Its origin comes from the Japanese Kanji character, “頂,” which means “top of the head” and refers to the body position (kneeling down, head bowed, arms extended upward) when receiving something from a higher-ranking person. Saying “itadakimasu” shows gratefulness for the meal. First because “itadaku” is also thought of as, ‘Thank you very much for giving up your life in order for me to live my life”. Secondly, it also shows thanks to the person(s) who have prepared a meal to be eaten.
What does ”gochisosama” mean?
Gochisosama is written in the Japanese Kanji characters as, 御馳走様. ‘Chiso’ implies the act of running. It comes from times before the invention of the refrigerator when people had to obtain ingredients from many places in order to prepare a meal. The ‘go’ part adds formality to the word and is used for more respect. “Gochiso” means a feastful and luxurious meal. “Sama” is a respectful suffix that’s added after person’s name. Adding “sama” shows respect and thanks to the person(s) who prepared the meal. All parts together forming the word “Gochisosama”, which you can understand as “Thank you very much for putting so much effort in this delicious meal”.
While in Japan, do not hesitate to use these words! It will make your hosts very happy.