Japanese Dining Etiquette Unveiled: What to Say Before and After a Meal

Welcome to the captivating world of Japanese dining etiquette, where cultural traditions and customs intertwine with the joy of food. Japanese Dining Etiquette is a fascinating tapestry of polite greetings, expressions of gratitude, and playful banter that shapes the dining experience in Japan. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of Japanese dining customs, exploring the phrases commonly used before and after a meal, and the cultural insights they provide.

Join us as we embark on a journey to unravel the nuances of Japanese dining etiquette and discover the profound connections between language, culture, and the pleasures of the table.

A Prelude to Dining: Common Phrases Before Eating

Before indulging in a delicious Japanese meal, it’s customary to exchange a few polite phrases. Here are some commonly used expressions:

Itadakimasu: Honoring the Meal

The phrase “Itadakimasu” holds deep cultural significance in Japanese dining. It is uttered before starting a meal as a way of expressing gratitude for the food and acknowledging the efforts that went into preparing it. This phrase conveys humility, respect, and appreciation for the sustenance provided. By saying “Itadakimasu,” one shows reverence for the entire process of food production, from the farmers and fishermen to the hands that cooked the meal.

Japanese Dining Etiquette
Literally, it means “I humbly receive”, but it could be translated as “Let’s eat”, “Bon appétit”, “Thanks for the food” | Credit: Japan and Japanese

Oishii Desu: Delighting in the Flavor

During the meal, you may hear the phrase “Oishii Desu” being used. This expression is a testament to the enjoyment of the flavors and taste of the food. It signifies satisfaction and serves as a compliment to the chef or the host for their culinary skills. By uttering “Oishii Desu,” one conveys appreciation for the deliciousness of the meal and acknowledges the effort put into its preparation.

Credit: japanesque-cafe

Expressing Gratitude: Phrases After Enjoying a Meal

Once the meal comes to an end, it’s customary to express gratitude for the dining experience. Here are a few phrases commonly used:

Gochisousama Deshita: Thanking the Host

The phrase “Gochisousama Deshita” is an expression of gratitude for the meal and is typically said after finishing eating. It translates to “Thank you for the feast” and serves as a way to show appreciation to the host or the person who prepared the meal. This phrase recognizes the effort, time, and resources invested in creating a memorable dining experience.

Credit: Hanamasa_ID

Osoreirimasu: Showing Humility and Appreciation

Another phrase you may encounter after a meal is “Osoreirimasu,” which expresses humility and appreciation. This phrase acknowledges the abundance of food and the act of receiving nourishment. By saying “Osoreirimasu,” one recognizes the generosity and kindness extended by the host or the person who provided the meal.

Credit: japan-academy

Embracing Cultural Etiquette: A Deeper Connection with Japanese Cuisine

Understanding the phrases used before and after a meal in Japan adds a layer of cultural appreciation to the dining experience. By embracing Japanese dining etiquette, visitors can show respect for the traditions and customs deeply rooted in the country’s culinary heritage. So, the next time you sit down for a delicious Japanese meal, remember to utter these phrases and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Japanese gastronomy.

Note: This blog post provides insights into Japanese dining customs; however, cultural practices may vary among individuals and regions.

Playful Banter: Food-Related Expressions and Jokes

While dining etiquette is essential, Japanese culture also embraces lightheartedness and playfulness when it comes to food. Here are some food-related expressions and jokes that might bring a smile to your face:

“Ippai Tabete, Nippon O Mamoru!” – Eat Up and Support Japan!

This playful phrase, which translates to “Eat up and support Japan!”, is often used humorously to encourage others to enjoy their meal heartily. It’s a cheerful way to appreciate the culinary delights of Japan while promoting a sense of national pride. So, don’t hold back when you hear this phrase and savor each bite with gusto!

The Wasabi Challenge: Spicing Up Conversations

If you’re feeling adventurous and up for some culinary excitement, try engaging in the “Wasabi Challenge.” This playful dare involves putting a dab of wasabi, the fiery green horseradish paste, on a piece of sushi or other food and seeing who can handle the spicy kick. It’s a fun way to add some zest to your meal and create lasting memories with friends or fellow diners.

Food for Thought: Cultural Insights through Language

The phrases used before and after a meal in Japan provide more than just linguistic customs; they offer a glimpse into the country’s cultural values and traditions. The importance placed on gratitude, respect, and appreciation for food showcases the deep reverence the Japanese hold for their culinary heritage.

By immersing yourself in these customs and expressions, you can forge a deeper connection with the Japanese culture and gain a richer understanding of their way of life. So, next time you find yourself dining in Japan or indulging in Japanese cuisine, embrace the language, engage in playful banter, and let the culinary journey lead you to a world of delightful experiences.


In Japan, dining is not only about satisfying one’s hunger but also about embracing a profound cultural experience. From the heartfelt expressions used before and after a meal to the playful banter and jokes shared around the table, Japanese dining etiquette is a reflection of their values, traditions, and the joy they find in food. By immersing yourself in these customs and language, you can create memorable connections and leave a lasting impression during your culinary adventures in Japan.


You see, my love for Japan is not only based on personal experience; it's based on a deep admiration for Japanese culture, history, and traditions. Thank you, Japan, for being a constant source of inspiration, joy, and wonder in my life. I may never be able to express my love for Japan in person, but I hope that through my blog and my writing, I can share a small piece of my admiration and devotion with the world.

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