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Lesson Transcript


Risa: Imagine you'll be eating dinner at your Japanese friend's home. How can you use polite table manners? こんにちは。りさです. Risa here. Anyone can learn how to politely eat a meal in Japan. In this lesson, you'll learn how. Ben is sitting at a dining table with Taichi and his mother. Let's watch!
Taichi's mother: さぁ、どうぞ。食べて。
Ben and Taichi: いただきます。
Ben: みそしる、おいしいです。
Taichi's mother: よかった。
Taichi's mother: ベンくん、ごはん茶わんを持って、食べてね。
Ben: あ、はい。
Now with English translation.
Taichi's mother: Go ahead and eat.
Ben and Taichi: Thank you for the food!
Ben: The miso soup is really good.
Taichi's mother: Good to hear!
Taichi's mother: Ben, try holding the bowl as you eat.
Ben: Ah, okay.
Risa: Here are the key words and phrases you need.
Ben: いただきます。
Risa: いただきます。
Alisha: I will start eating. (lit: I will receive.)
Risa: いただきます。, いただきます。, いただきます。
Ben: みそ汁
Risa: みそ汁
Alisha: miso soup
Risa: みそ汁, みそ汁, みそ汁
Ben: おいしい
Risa: おいしい
Alisha: delicious
Risa: おいしい, おいしい, おいしい
Ben: ごはん
Risa: ごはん
Alisha: cooked rice, meal
Risa: ごはん, ごはん, ごはん
Ben: 茶わん
Risa: 茶わん
Alisha: rice bowl, tea cup
Risa: 茶わん, 茶わん, 茶わん
Ben: 持つ
Risa: 持つ
Alisha: to hold, to carry, to possess
Risa: 持つ, 持つ, 持つ
Ben: よい
Risa: よい
Alisha: good, well
Risa: よい, よい, よい
Ben: ごはん茶わん
Risa: ごはん茶わん
Alisha: rice bowl
Risa: ごはん茶わん, ごはん茶わん, ごはん茶わん
Key Phrases
Risa: Here are the key phrases from the scene.
Alisha: In the scene, what did Ben say to start eating?
Ben: いただきます。
Risa: いただきます。いただきます。いただきます。
Alisha: This phrase is a greeting used before you eat. It comes from the verb...
Risa: いただく
Alisha: which means "to get" or "to take" something from someone of a higher status than you. This phrase can express your gratitude for receiving the food. Before you start to eat any meal at a home or a restaurant, you should say...
Risa: いただきます
Alisha: Well-mannered Japanese people even say quietly when they eat alone!
Alisha: Now you try! Say Ben's line.
Taichi's mother: さぁ、どうぞ。食べて。
Ben: いただきます。
Alisha: How did Taichi's mother respond to Ben's compliment?
Taichi's mother: よかった。
Risa: よかった。よかった。よかった。
Alisha: This is equivalent to the "that’s good" or "great" that you would say when you hear something good.
Risa: よかった
Alisha: is the past tense of
Risa: いい
Alisha: or
Risa: よい
Alisha: meaning "good".
Risa: いい
Alisha: is the colloquial form of
Risa: よい
Alisha: and it's used in the simple non-past form in casual conversations, as in…
Risa: 天気がいい
Alisha: “the weather is good.”
Risa: いい本
Alisha: “good book”
Alisha: For the other forms, it conjugates in the same way as...
Risa: よい
Alisha: conjugates. So,
Risa: よかった
Alisha: is the past tense of
Risa: いい or よい
Alisha: and it literally means "it was good." When you hear good news, you can say…
Risa: よかった
Alisha: …to mean "good to hear."
Alisha: Now you try! Say Taichi's mother's line after Ben's compliment.
Ben: みそしる、おいしいです。
Taichi's mother: よかった。

Lesson focus

Risa: Now, the lesson focus. Here's how to politely eat a meal in Japan.
Alisha: A typical Japanese meal at home consists of rice, miso soup, a main dish and side dishes. It is typically laid out with the rice bowl placed by your left hand, and the soup bowl placed by your right hand.
Alisha: There's a Japanese word for a set of rice, miso soup, and three dishes.
Risa: 一汁三菜 (いちじゅう さんさい)
Alisha: Traditionally, it's said that this kind of set is a well-balanced meal.
Alisha: Do you know what order you should eat these things in?
Alisha: The traditionally polite way of eating is not to keep eating one thing until you finish it. Instead, you should try to move from dish to dish only eating one bite of each before alternating. The goal is to generally eat everything at the same pace.
Alisha: Many people don't know that it's good manners to hold the bowl when you eat rice or miso soup.
Alisha: Put your thumb on the edge of a bowl, and use the other fingers under the bottom to hold it.
Alisha: Leaving the bowl on the table and hunching over when you eat rice is not good manners in Japan.
Alisha: Also, you shouldn't put your mouth on the bowl and shovel rice into your mouth.
Alisha: However, when you have miso soup, you can put your mouth on the bowl and sip soup directly without using a spoon.
Risa: Now it's time to practice your new ability.
Alisha: You’re at your friend's home, and you're going to have dinner with their family. Ready? Here we go.
Alisha: Dinner is ready, and it's time to start eating. What do you say?
Risa: いただきます。
Alisha: You brought some fruit as a small gift to the family, and they were served at dinner. Your friend said that he really liked the fruit. How do you respond?
Risa: よかった。
Alisha: Great job!
Risa: いただきます。
Risa: よかった。


Risa: よくできました! Now, watch the scene one more time. After that, you're ready to enjoy a typical Japanese meal at home! じゃまたね!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

April 15th, 2019 at 8:33 am
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Hi George,

Thank you for leaving the comment.

If you have any questions, please let us know.


Cristiane (クリスチアネ)

Team JapanesePod101.com

April 8th, 2019 at 6:37 am
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This was a really good video!

Although Adrimal Yamamoto (in that movie) told his son that the pickles are for towards the end of the meal.

Also, I like to deal with the Miso suru first because it's better hot and it will get cold.

I guess that's why sometimes they come with lids but not so much in America.

All in all, I learned a lot.

Arigatou Gozaimashita!

January 15th, 2019 at 12:53 am
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Hi Filip,

Thank you for asking the question.

When you are eating at the dining table/chair, crossing your legs may be considered rude in some cases. If a meal is offered at a couch with other people, then it's okay. But bringing your food to a couch and eat while others eat at the dining table is very rude.

I hope you will have an opportunity to have a meal with a Japanese family in the future!


Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

January 12th, 2019 at 12:09 pm
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What about the positioning of your legs, what's considered rude? Can you eat on the couch? Great episode:)

January 10th, 2019 at 5:39 am
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Hi Max,

Thank you for leaving a comment as always!

Keep up the good work. 😄


Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

January 7th, 2019 at 4:51 am
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October 22nd, 2018 at 11:40 pm
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Hi Russell Kirkpatrick,

Thank you for the comment and sorry for our late reply.

What you said is all correct. いただきます is a saying in general to show appreciate to food, with underlying meaning "thank you for this food."

Hi Ryan,

Thank you very much for the comment.

So you went through the exact same situation! I'm glad the host mother told you the manner. Making mistakes is the best lesson to learn, isn't it? 😄

Thank you for studying with us! Keep it up.


Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com

October 16th, 2018 at 7:37 am
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I found this out the hard way unfortunately. I was staying at a home stay for 2 weeks and I was doing it all wrong. It wasn't until the last 4 days of my stay that the mum told me I should hold the rice bowl with my hand and not eat it with the bowl still on the table 😭😭😭

Russell Kirkpatrick
April 11th, 2018 at 2:39 pm
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When saying いただきます is this said to the person who served the meal to you or in general to the group you are eating with by perhaps saying something like "Let's eat" before you begin to eat?

February 9th, 2018 at 9:01 am
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Hi Steven,

Thank you for the comment! Miso soup is often served at breakfast. So not all Japanese meal starts with miso soup. And when miso soup is served, a bowl of rice is usually served at the same time. I guess serving soup at the beginning of a meal is a western culture.

Miki H

Team JapanesePod101.com