What Does “Itadakimasu” Mean?

You may have heard the expression “itadakimasu” if you have any familiarity with Japanese dining. This is a big part of the country’s dining culture, often proclaimed by diners as something of a ritual prior to beginning a meal. But what is the meaning of this curious custom?

Roughly translated, “itadakimasu” means “I receive this food humbly and with appreciation”. It is a phrase that traces its origins to the Buddhist teachings that have influenced much of Japanese culture. According to Buddhism, it is important to show respect for all living things. This includes the creatures that gave their lives for the food that you are eating, the cook who prepared the food, the farmer who cultivated the plants or animals, the host who financed the meal, and any other people who may have been involved in allowing you to eat. “Itadakimasu” is the traditional way of remembering these teachings and offering up thanks to all appropriate parties.

Should you ever find yourself the guest at a Japanese dining table, or if you’re ever sharing a meal with a Japanese friend at our Japanese restaurant in Lynnwood, remember to offer up such thanks as well.