Friday, 14 September 2012

Giving Thanks for Food

I show you our school lunch menu for Friday;

Katemeshi (Mixed Rice with Vegetable), Eggplant Soup with Sesame, Grilled Pacific Saury, and Milk.
Food-o-meter- 8/10
Health rating- 7/10
Bites- unknown
Courses- Rice, soup , 1dish
Price- JPY234yen (Approx. US$2.9 £1.8 )
Pieces of hair- 0

And Another dietician sent me a menu for Martha's projects;

Rice, Satsuma-Jiru (Chicken Soup which is local dishes from Kagoshima region), Deep -fried Flying Fish, Simmered Konjak and Vegetable. and Milk.

Oh. I got one more picture from another dietician..

Rice, Seasoning for rice, Simmered Striped Dried Radish and Hijiki seaweed, Fried Salmon with Cheese, Cucumber with Chili sauce, and Milk. Mustard Spinach is grown local.

It is the final day for me to appear in NeverSecond blog. Therefore, today I would like to talk about giving thanks for our food.

Before starting a meal at home and school , Japanese people say "Itadakimasu."
Although "Itadakimasu" is often translated into English as "God bless you," it contains an expression of gratitude for the person who cooked the meal, however it does not have any religious connotations.

But I like to study comparative culture about giving thanks for food based on each belief in the world.

The above kanji (Chinese letter) chant is called "Gokan-no-ge". It is to giving thanks for one's food. Buddhist verses to chant before eating. It is mentioned;

First, let us reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us this food.
Second, let us be aware of the quality of our deeds as we receive this meal.
Third, what is most essential is the practice of mindfulness, which helps us to transcend greed, anger and delusion.
Fourth, we appreciate this food which sustains the good health of our body and mind.
Fifth, in order to continue our practice for all beings we accept this offering.

When I first heard the second term, I have reflected on what others have done for us. However, I have a question myself. What am I doing for others? Am I pulling our weight? Is this food being put to good use by sustaining me? It was heavy for me.

Let’s see a few European painting.

Daniele Crespi: San Carlo Borromeo at Supper、1628

St. Carlo Borromeo devote himself to a life of poverty. He is reading the bible in tears. There is a “bread” and a bottle of water. But He does not pick it up. He is the paragon of believer. There are many masterpiece art featured meal in Europe. Because meals do not act only to satisfy the appetite simply, but also had a religious and spiritual meaning.

On the other hand, there is a funny painting like this.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Land of Cockayne, 1567

It is a very famous painting of Bruegel the Elder. You can see so many foods in this painting. I like to find allegory or meaning. Religious manner of diet is included also. I think it is one of dietary education.

The traditional faith of Japan is animism and nature worship. We can see a lot of agricultural rite.

"Otaue" is one of the Rice Planting Festival of Shinto shline. It is an ancient event praying for a rich rice harvest. called a celebration in advance. Farmer play a role of rice-planting in the precincts of shinto shrine.

Another "Otaue" (rice planting) also organized by shinto shrines. Saotome (rice‐planting girl) set out rice plants in the fields of a shrine. Tanokami (deity of rice fields and harvests) is a deity (Shinto religion) that Japanese agricultural people believe watches over a rich or poor harvest and brings about a bumper crop of rice. Because the Shinto religion was founded on beliefs in the deities of rice cropping, such as Tanokami, rice has been considered to be a most valuable food.

Last month, I went to see a rainmaking ritual held on the once every four years when the Summer Olympics roll around. Three hundred men carry a 36-meter-long gigantic dragon that weighs 3 tons made of bamboo and straw, bravely parade the 2-kilometer-long road from a shrine in the district to a pond, and pray for rain and good harvest there.

Actually said, I am taking part in the rice trust system every year. And harvest season has come.

Our rice harvest is planned for September 23 on Sunday.
Rice cultivation in Japan requires farming villagers to cooperate in planting and harvesting during specific time frames. Now we are also inviting foreign participants for harvesting.

If you are interested in rice harvesting, please tell me. You can see Mount Fujiyama, also from the rice field in Yamanashi. To thank the participants, each person will be given rice.

In this way, I savored the joy of harvest and food. I reflect on our own work and the effort of those who brought us food.

Outdoor drum bath is wonderful after farming.

How do you do for reflection?

Lastly, I have enjoyed talking with you and I really appreciate meeting wonderful people and having great experience here. Arigato gozaimashita.

If you enjoy my post here, please help to Martha’ Project. Maybe it is also giving thanks for food, I think. ;-)

Oh. I got so many vote and comments for the school lunch contest in 2011.
Thank you very much again.

Winner of: #6 WAKAYAMA,
Second Place: #9 KOCHI
Special Award 1: #8 KAGAWA
Special Award 2: #12 GIFU

VEG, how do you know that!? If the world championship of school lunch will be held, which would you like to do judge or contestant?

I look forward to seeing you again.
Never Second?
Oh... Don't mention it again.




  1. Hello, Doni.

    My favorite Japanese dish is curry. Do they serve curry in schools? I have not seen it on any of the menus this week.

    Thank you very much for sharing so many meals from Japan! ごいちそうさま!

    1. Hello Heidi,

      It's a good question.
      Curry with rice (カレーライス)is most popular menu in school lunch also.
      Curry lunch is served every month. Unfortunately There was not this week. It will be next Friday.

      Ah. There is a article and picture at my blog for curry lunch in July.

      Thank you having an interest school lunch in Japan.

      ・*:.。..。.:*・゜ヽ( ´∀`)人(´∀` )ノ・゜゚・*:.。..。.

  2. Ohayo Gozaimasu! It is still morning for me. I have enjoyed reading your posts all week! I was lucky enough to visit Japan several years ago as an exchange student and you are reminding me how much I miss Japanese food. Thank you for all the interesting information.

    1. Lindsay san,
      Konnicjhiwa from Tokyo! How is your weekend?

      The honor is more than I deserve.

      Please tell me when you will come to Japan.
      I will suggest good restaurant for you at that time.^^

      Arigato gozaimasu.

  3. Thank you again for your wonderful posts this week! I really enjoyed reading about the history that you shared as well as the meals. Good luck to you! :)

    1. Thank you very much for your comments.
      I appreciate your understanding my poor English.

      Arigato gozaimasita.^^

  4. Doni,
    Thanks so much for your posts all week. But you really saved the BEST for last! So informative.

    Domo arigato どうもありがとう (Is that right?)

    1. Oh you think so? I'm so grad to hear that.
      Domo arigato!

      Yes. your Japanese is perfect!

  5. Hi Doni
    "Giving thanks for one's food."
    I can see that you are a person who is thinking deeply about the philosophy of food. I thank you for your effort to give us your thoughts. Not only have you a deep appreciation of the food culture of your own locality you are confident enough to give us an interpretation of food culture as depicted in European paintings of the 15th and 16th hundreds. Bruegel is one of my favourite painters and many of his paintings are astonishingly modern and shocking considering the date they were painted. I thank you again for educating us that he painted an allegory about food.
    I was brought up on a farm for the first 8 years of my life and perhaps this is why I have always had a deep gratitude for those who provide the towns with food. In Veg's blog you have left thoughts about food that won't be forgotten.

    1. Thank you very much for your evaluation.

      At first, I'm interested in only school meal in Japan. After that, I wanted to compare with other countries.

      Then, I thought more that school lunch is a reflection of country's food culture, agriculture, history, and some their politics. Yes, I think Bruegel is uniquely representable all of them in the painting.
      I also like to study painting such as the da Vinci's Last Supper to Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup. It is very interesting for me.

      Your comments encourages me a lot.
      Arigato gozaimasu.^^

    2. Hi Veg, I am from Poland, I have Question do you know something like Calorie mate ?? What is this I know this is 4 cake, how it likes?

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  7. It was so interesting to see how other cultures give thanks for food. My family is Jewish and we learn separate prayers for each food depending on how they grow like : thank you for the fruit growing on a tree, or thank you for fruit growing on a vine, or thank you for plants that grow from the ground. I think is is beautiful to thank the chef and farmers as part of producers of food. Thank you for sharing this.