The real meaning of Gochisosama

May 19, 2015 Juju Kurihara 6 Comments

I always wondered why the word Goshisosama (ごちそうさま) is something to do with a running horse. Now you may be puzzled. I apologise.
The last time, I explained why Japanese people say Itadakimasu before they eat. When finish eating, people say, Gochisosama or Gochisosama deshita to be more formal. The word gochiso refers to a feast. luxurious food or a good meal. It´s another appreciation for the food and the people who involved in the meal. In other countries, it´d be, Thank you for the meal” or “That was delicious!". As well as Itadakimasu, Japanese people are strictly taught to say, Gochisosama after eating since they are small. 

But I like to see the origin of this word. Gochisosama can be written in Kanji, ご馳走さま. 馳走 (chiso) means running around or make every effort. In the ancient time, people would ride on the horse and run around to collect food for the guests. Even not on the horse, they would run all over the town to prepare the meal for the guest, the word Chiso began to include the meaning of invite people to eat.
 They are travellers but they chiso (馳走) the hourses.
In the late Edo period (江戸時代/ 1603-1868), the words Go (御) and Sama (様) were added to show the appreciation and Japanese people began to use Gochisosama to finish the meal.
Wish I had Gochiso every day like this.
There are a lot of work and effort of many people behind each meal we eat. Perhaps we don´t get such a feast every day but every plate and any plates are gochiso in a sense that someone made an effort and add love to it. If you had a feeling of gratitude, you wouldn´t be able to throw the food so easily and could say, Gochisosama to all the lives and effort you received.  
At the end, a little sign language lesson in Japanese. 
Gochisosama: you rub your cheek horizontal, between your ear and the mouth.
Deshita: If you want to be polite, you can add deshita by keeping the hand in cup shape and bring both downwards. 
Now you can say both oral and in sigh language in Japanese. You will be very appreciated if you say, Itadakimasu and Gochisosama when you eat in Japan or with your Japanese friends. Try it! 
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  1. Heidereich von Biedersee 4 years Reply

    Thank you for the nice explanation. When I tried to follow up the link for ‘itadakimasu’, it was broken. So here now the correct link:


  2. Noemi Nagy 6 years Reply

    thank you very much for this interesting explanation. I am looking forward to learning more!

  3. Eigomaster 7 years Reply

    It might also be worth mentioning that the appropriate (humble) response to “gochisosama” is “osomatusamadeshita”, which means “please excuse me for preparing such a poor meal,” even if you have prepared a lavish spread!

  4. Bob 7 years Reply

    Thanks for the interesting explanation. To make it a little easier to remember for kanji learners you might add that the character 馳 includes the radical for horse (馬) and that the character 走 by itself means “run.”

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