Itakakimasu!

kids

I know people who visit England and after a little time spent there, return to the USA speaking with an English Accent. I haven’t acquired an English accent, nor a Japanese one, but I have deliberately acquired the Japanese version of saying Grace before meals.

It’s quick. It’s easy once you’ve said the word 50 or more times. It makes the beginning of a meal a special event! If you’re eating with Japanese friends in Japan it’s polite to join them in saying itadakimasu!  It builds community!  It will elevate your dining experience!

Itakdakimasu. Spoken before eating to acknowledge and be thankful for all that came before the food appeared on a plate in front of you. That includes farmers, organisms, fields, vendors, cooks, etc, not to mention the living plants/animals that have given their lives for this meal. It’s all-encompassing and a meaningful way to focus on what you are about to eat.  A moment of raised consciousness never hurt anyone.   Itadakimasu has no broader religious connotations.   I think it’s not a custom that will cause inner conflicts to arise.  In other words, It’s not like a Jew singing a Christmas carol.

japanese dinner

The Meaning of “Itadakimasu”
いただく (Itadaku) is a phrase that is very polite with the meaning “to take.”

In this sense, the head is bowed with the hands held, palms up, higher than the head to receive an item. It is currently used when eating because you are taking a very precious gift of another organism’s life.

The origins of this are based on Buddhism and the belief that everything has a spirit that guides it. By taking spirits from their origins and using them to replenish yourself, you are giving honor and gratitude to the organisms that originally housed those spirits.

It is very disrespectful to eat someone else’s meal without properly giving thanks to them for making such food. Even if you made the meal yourself, you are still giving respect to the lives used in its creation.  nihongoshark.com

I think saying itadakimasu is a lovely custom. I’ve overcome the awkwardness I originally felt when I first began to say it. It’s become a brief but essential part of meal time now.

Try it, and let me know what you think.

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