Many of us love Japanese food.

If you are a little familiar with Japanese culture, you may have noticed that Japanese people say “Itadakimasu” before they start eating at the table.

You put both your hands together and with a slight bow, you say Itadakimasu, and then pick up the chopsticks and start eating. We practice this at our home every day as the danna is really strict with table manners. Junya will have to do it too lol.

Anyway, people usually translate Itadakimasu as “Bon Appetit” or “Let’s eat” (Or in Hokkien “lai lai lai jiak jiak jiak!!!” lolol), which is correct, but doesn’t reflect its true meaning.

I do say Itadakimasu out of habit, but i didn’t really wonder about the real meaning or origin of it, until one day the danna explained it to me, and i was like… goosebumps all over. :O

Itadakimasu is the polite form of “itadaku“, which is the humble form of “morau” , which means “i receive”. Lolol confused yet?

Which means, itadakimasu = “i receive with humility”.

But receive what? From who? Even if you cook for yourself to eat and you are alone, you say Itadakimasu, because it means “i receive with humility the lives that have sacrifice for me“.

It does sound a little morbid if you think about it this way, but the fact is that we human eat other living things, (yes, even if you are a vegan, plants are living things too) and they sacrifice so that we can continue to live.

So saying Itadakimasu , you are saying “With all humility, i receive this meal. I thank all farmers and hunter’s hardwork for providing this meal to me, and i thank the mother nature for its sacrifice for me.

All the love and sincerity, the heart of appreciation, in just one word.

I was so overwhelmed i was almost in tears.

Every time i say Itadakimasu, i am saying, “thank you delicious cow, for the sacrifice!!! Thank you farmers!! Thank you chef!!! Thank you universe, for this amazing amazing meal. I will enjoy it with all my heart.”

It is such a great word. We easily take things for granted, but a simple word as such connects our thoughts and prayers back to the nature, and remind us to be always grateful. No wonder Japan is such a beautiful place. Because the people give thanks to the nature at least three times a day hahaha.

Try saying your own version of Itadakimasu the next time you have a meal. Maybe it will really taste yummier!

 

Taste of Tohoku

So yes, talking about food, would you like some gourmet cherries?

Small red and delicious beads kissed by the summer sun. Did you know that 70% of cherry production in Japan comes from Tohoku, Yamagata Prefecture?

Junya’s snack bowl: blueberries and Yamagata cherries.

I’m sure you have heard of Strawberry Picking in Japan, one of the favorite activities to do in winter/spring. But do you know that there’s Cherry Picking (not the fallacy thing) too?

I want to do this one day with Junya!!

During the months of May-July, you can go to cherry farms to pick cherries and eat them fresh off the cherry trees! It costs usually around 1500 yen to 3000 yen, depending on the grade of the cherries. And usually you get to eat all the cherries to your heart’s content within 30 minutes. Worth it!!!!

Speaking of grade, Japan probably produces the most expensive cherries in the world (along with many other fruits like melon, strawberries, grapes, apples, just to name a few)!

Almost RM10 per cherry.

One of the most expensive cherries is called Charmy-Cherry (Sato-Nishiki type), produced in Akita prefecture. You can find it in most high-end departmental stores or luxurious fruit store like Senbikiya. Apparently it can go up to 25000 yen (RM700+) a box!!

Itadakimasu.

These beautiful cherries are flawless. They are carefully selected and sometimes put in a box individually like this.

 

Why are Japanese fruits so expensive?

They are not always expensive. I usually buy my Yamagata cherries for like 500 yen (RM15) a box. But yes, the top grade fruits can be insanely expensive. And why is it so?

Gift giving is an essential part of the Japanese culture, and fruits happen to be one of the most popular gifts for friends, business associates, etc. The more high end it is the more unique a gift it will be as so to impress the person you are giving to. That is what makes the farmers go to extremes to push the limits of the quality of their fruits, the taste, the color, the presentation and even the shape (heart shape melon!!!). If you watch the documentaries on Japanese fruit farmers, you can see how much love they have for these fruits.

So yes, next time you are in Japan, make sure you splurge on one of these love-filled beautiful fruits.

For more tips on Tohoku gourmet and delicacies, you can visit Taste of Tohoku!

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