The Importance of Japanese Post-Meal Expressions (2023)


Japanese culture is renowned for its rich culinary traditions, and part of that culture includes certain expressions that are said after finishing a meal. These expressions, known as "Gochisousama" and "Itadakimasu," hold deep significance in Japanese society. In this article, we will delve into the meaning behind these phrases and explore their importance in Japanese culture.

  1. What is "Itadakimasu"?

Before a meal in Japan, it is customary to say "Itadakimasu," which translates to "I humbly receive." This phrase serves multiple purposes, including expressing gratitude for the food about to be eaten and acknowledging the effort put into preparing the meal, including the hard work of the farmers who grew the ingredients.

  1. Why is "Itadakimasu" Important?

The act of saying "Itadakimasu" before a meal holds deep cultural significance in Japan. It is viewed as a way of showing respect and gratitude for the food that is about to be consumed. Furthermore, it fosters mindfulness around eating, encouraging individuals to savor each bite and appreciate the flavors and textures of the food.

  1. What is "Gochisousama"?

After finishing a meal in Japan, the phrase "Gochisousama" is commonly used, which roughly translates to "Thank you for the meal." This expression serves to show appreciation not only for the food that was just consumed but also for the people who prepared it.

  1. Why is "Gochisousama" Important?

Similar to "Itadakimasu," saying "Gochisousama" after a meal plays a significant role in Japanese culture. It reflects gratitude and respect for the food that was just eaten and for the individuals who dedicated their time and effort to prepare it. This expression helps foster a sense of community around meals, emphasizing the importance of sharing food with others.

  1. Other Post-Meal Expressions

Apart from "Itadakimasu" and "Gochisousama," there are a few other expressions commonly used in Japan after finishing a meal. One such phrase is "Oishikatta," which means "It was delicious." This expression is often used to compliment the chef or host on the exceptional quality of the food.

  1. The Role of Food in Japanese Culture

Food holds a significant role beyond mere sustenance in Japanese culture. It serves as a means to connect with others, build relationships, and express gratitude. Many traditional Japanese dishes boast a rich history and possess deep cultural significance.

  1. The Importance of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an integral aspect of various facets of Japanese culture, including eating. By saying "Itadakimasu" before a meal and "Gochisousama" after, individuals are encouraged to be present and fully engaged with their food. This practice enables them to appreciate the flavors and textures more fully, fostering a greater sense of satisfaction after the meal.

  1. The Relationship Between Food and Nature

In Japan, there exists a profound appreciation for the natural world and its abundant offerings. This appreciation is reflected in the way food is prepared and consumed, with an emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Uttering "Itadakimasu" before a meal serves as a way to acknowledge the connection between humans and nature, expressing gratitude for the gifts provided by the natural world.

  1. Cultural Differences in Post-Meal Expressions

While "Itadakimasu" and "Gochisousama" hold significant importance in Japanese culture, other cultures possess their own post-meal expressions. For example, in certain Western countries, it is common to say "Thank you" or "That was delicious" after finishing a meal.

  1. The Importance of Respect

Respect is a core value deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and this is reflected in the treatment of food. By saying "Itadakimasu" and "Gochisousama," individuals demonstrate respect for the food they are about to consume and for the people who prepared it. This practice fosters a sense of harmony and goodwill during mealtimes.


In conclusion, the post-meal expressions used in Japan reflect a profound appreciation for food and its role in connecting individuals with one another and with nature. By uttering "Itadakimasu" before a meal and "Gochisousama" after, people acknowledge the effort invested in preparing the food and express gratitude for the nourishment it provides. These expressions, coupled with various customs and etiquette surrounding eating in Japan, contribute to a culture deeply rooted in respect, mindfulness, and gratitude. Through embracing these values and practices, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of appreciation and connection during mealtimes, forging deeper bonds with others and with the natural world.

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