If you’ve ever dined in Japan, you’ve most probably heard people use the expression “itadakimasu!” This is an important part of Japanese dining culture. Most diners will make such a declaration prior to eating a meal, somewhat ritualistically. It translates roughly to “I receive this food humbly and with appreciation”.

The origins of this ritual relate back to Buddhist traditions, which have formed the basis for much of Japanese culture. Buddhism teaches us that it is important to show respect for all living things, including the plants and animals which gave their lives to provide the food you eat. Itadakimasu is therefore used to give thanks to everyone and everything behind your meal, including the cook who prepared it, the farmer who grew the food, the host who paid for it, and the food itself. It is for this reason that, should you ever find yourself at an authentic Japanese dining table, or if you’re ever sharing a meal with a Japanese friend at our Issaquah sushi restaurant, you should remember to offer up such thanks as well.