Itadakimasu, the act of appreciation


Chatting to Japan-born graphic designer Minami Hirayama, it is the act of appreciation, thanks and gratitude that comes to mind when describing the Japanese word いただきます (itadakimasu).

"Japanese people have been taught to say this word just before we eat since we were very small," the Denmark-based creative tells us. "Often we will put our palms together in front of our mouth like we are praying," she adds, describing how the gratitude expressed in the word extends to the meal, the cook and the nourishment itself.

It was after leaving Japan for the first time to study in England that Minami felt the impact of the word and the importance of its tradition. "I loved living there and getting to know local people," Minami recalls, "however, I couldn’t get used to not saying Itadakimasu before the meal."

Itadakimasu is now with Minami (and her every meal) wherever she travels. Currently, in Copenhagen, she has introduced the tradition to her community, who have since connected with the term – sharing it amongst her friends.

As with many languages, although the tradition may be small, its impact can be transformative. Or, in Minami’s case, transportive, making her feel at home and in Japan whether she may be.

Minami invites you to do the same before your next meal. So please, before you tuck in, take a moment or two to appreciate what you’re eating and the person who provided it (yes, that also includes you!).