Japanese Culture, Japanese Language

Manners in Japan: Itadakimasu & Gochisousama

What do Japanese people say before and after eating?

Before the Japanese begin their meals, you’ll see them hold their hands together, close their eyes, bow slightly, and say something ending in “masu.”

What are they saying? What does it mean?

Before the meal begins, it is customary to be thankful for the food.

It’s about manners and respect

To show this respect, the word you’ll hear is “itadakimasu.”

It translates into “I’ll have it.

Itadakimasu is how one expresses gratitude for the meal. But it is deeper than that.

It’s not solely the food. It’s everything it took for the food to be grown, harvested, prepared, and everything in-between.

While itadakimasu is spoken before the meal, there’s another word used after the meal.


In short, gochisousama means “a good meal.” A way of expressing that you are done eating, and you enjoyed the food. Thanking again everything it took to create the meal.

The full translation of gochisousama is “thank you very much for the delicious meal.

Note: You’ll also find this word used before leaving a restaurant, after paying the check.

Use them, without fear

Don’t think of these words as optional. Try to use them before and after every meal. 

But don’t freak out if you can’t pronounce them correctly and stumble. The Japanese understand you’re not Japanese and are humble that you attempted the words.

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A fantastic place to practice your itadakimasu and gochisousama skills is Imafuku.

Imafuku is a Michelin starred restaurant in Tokyo offering shabu-shabu with high-quality wagyu beef as well as Sukiyaki with top sirloin.


  • Savor the superior quality of wagyu beef, made in Japan
  • Indulge in a sukiyaki sirloin or shabu-shabu hot pot
  • Dine in an elegant and relaxed environment

Make reservations here (in English)

Pronouncing Itadakimasu and Gochisousama

I know what you’re thinking. “These words look impossible to pronounce!

Yea, kind of.

Itadakimasu = E-tah-dah-key-mah-ss

Gochisousama = go-chee-so-sah-mah

Not too bad really. Practice a bit and you’ll be fine.

I’ve heard it’s rude to finish your plate in Japan. Is that true?


Finishing your plate is a sign you enjoyed the meal. It’s not like other countries where more food will be brought to empty plates.

In fact, it’s polite to completely finish even every grain of rice. Don’t leave any stragglers!

So on the flip side, it is a little rude to leave food. But don’t worry, it’s not taboo.

If you’re so full you can’t eat anymore, then don’t. Leaving a little won’t offend the restaurant staff.

Now, if you’re at someone’s home, just try your best to finish. In most countries it’s best to eat mom’s cooking isn’t it? 🙂

Is it rude to use a fork in Japan?

Obviously chopsticks are the norm, but it isn’t unheard of for Japanese to use forks and spoons too.

Don’t worry about it. Just ask.

If the shop has a fork available they’ll bring it to you.

Even in situations where it might be a bit strange for a Japanese person to use a fork, they know you’re not Japanese and using a fork is likely easier for you.

Not rude at all.

How do you respond to arigato gozaimasu? The standard reply is “どう致しまして”(dou itashimasite), a formal way to reply to “arigatou gozaimasu” or “ doumo arigatou gozaimashita.” I often hear Japanese people say どうもどうも(doumo doumo), a very convenient phrase which can means many things such as : hello, thank you, never mind, your welcome, good bye, etc. —Quora

Is it rude to just say arigato? Just saying ‘domo’ would be less polite than ‘Arigato’ since it’s the short version of ‘Domo arigato. ‘ People use ‘domo’ rather than ‘arigato’ when they consider ‘arigato’ is a little bit formal in a situation. They also use it when they just want to say something as a reply. —JapanesePod101

What is Domo mean? DOMO is a word used to stress your feelings, but you can use it in other ways, too. DOMO means “very”. It’s especially helpful when stressing appreciation or making an apology. When you buy something at a store, store clerk would say “DOMO ARIGATOU”, meaning thank you “very much”. —NHK