“Let’s Eat” in Japanese – What to say before mealtime

Today, we’re going to learn how to say “Let’s eat” in Japanese.

Eating and drinking are essential for humans to survive. But having a nice meal and spending a good time while eating with someone is also a key to appreciating ourselves in everyday life. Let’s get started!

A girl eating a bowl of noodles using chopsticks

Below, you’ll learn different words and sentences related to “let’s eat” in the Japanese language. You’ll learn how they’re written in hiragana and kanji too.

How to say “Let’s eat” in Japanese

The expressions たべよう (Tabeyou | 食べよう) and たべましょう(Tabemashou | 食べましょう) are the most accustomed saying for the literal translation of “Let’s eat” in English.

  • たべよう (Tabeyou | 食べよう | the casual form of “Let’s eat”)
  • たべましょう (Tabemashou | 食べましょう | the formal form of “Let’s eat”)

“Let’s eat” in Japanese

Let’s take a close look at the two phrases here translating to “let’s eat” in Japanese:

  • たべよう (Tabeyou | 食べよう | the casual form of “Let’s eat”)
  • たべましょう (Tabemashou | 食べましょう | the formal form of “Let’s eat”)

. The two expressions above consist of a verb and a verb suffix.

  • たべる (Taberu | 食べる | to eat): a verb
  • ~よう (You): a verb suffix, plain volitional form
  • ~ましょう (Mashou): a verb suffix, polite volitional form

“Let’s drink” in Japanese

Here are the phrases that you can use to say “let’s drink” in Japanese:

  • のもう (Nomou | 飲もう | the casual form of “Let’s drink”)
  • のみましょう (Nomimashou | 飲みましょう | the formal form of “Let’s drink”)

The idea is always the same for たべよう(Tabeyou | 食べよう) and たべましょう (Tabemashou | 食べましょう). You can also apply a different verb before よう(You), しょう(Shou), and ましょう(Mashou) to express other volition.

  • のむ (Nomu | 飲む | to drink): a verb
  • ~よう (You): a verb suffix with the meaning of “volition”
  • ~ましょう (Mashou): a verb suffix, polite volitional form

Japanese greetings used before/after eating

Apart from the literal phrase “let’s eat,” there are two words used as mealtime greetings in Japan. These expressions function like “Bon appetit” and “Enjoy your meal,” which are typically heard at tables around the world. In Japan, these are いただきます (Itadakimasu) and ごちそうさま (Gochisousama).

Both いただきます (Itadakimasu | a greeting before eating) and ごちそうさま (Gochisousama | a greeting after eating) are probably very unique yet well-known Japanese greetings.

  • いただきます (Itadaki masu | 頂きます、戴きます | Thank you for the food)
  • ごちそうさま (Gochisousama desu | ご馳走様です | Thank you for the food)

Variations of “Let’s eat” in Japanese

Once you learn how to use the most basic phrase for “Let’s eat” in the Japanese language, it’s time to get the idea of saying slightly more complex sentences.

The direct translations of the following Japanese phrases are not exactly “Let’s eat” in English, though you can use them before the meal.

Informal form

Here are the different ways to say “Let’s eat” informally or casually.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
Let's eat ご飯を食べよう ごはんをたべようGohan wo tabeyou
It's time to eat ご飯にしよう ごはんにしようGohan ni shiyou
Let's have a meal 食事を取ろう、食事を摂ろう しょくじをとろうShokuji wo torou
Let's eat, We'll start eating 食べるよ たべるよTaberu yo
Let's have a meal, I'll take it いただこうItadakou*
Let's have a meal, I'll take it 貰おう もらおうMoraou*

*a little manly expression

Formal form

If you’d like to express this phrase formally, here are the phrases to use:

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
Let's eat ご飯を食べましょう ごはんをたべましょうGohan wo tabemashou
It's time to eat ご飯にしましょう ごはんにしましょうGohan ni shimashou
Let's eat, Enjoy the meal, Thank you for the foodいただきますItadakimasu*
Let's have a meal, I'll take itいただきましょうItadakimashou

*a typical Japanese greeting

Using a particle in a Japanese “Let’s eat” sentence

Whether you’re on a date or simply going out with friends, there are many situations in which you suggest what and when to eat.

By using Japanese particles, you can add extra meaning and information to the basic “Let’s eat” sentences. For example, you can mention a specific time using に (ni) instead of the combination of a noun and を (wo). Similarly, suggesting a place by applying に (ni) or で (de) is possible.

To further understand how this aspect of Japanese grammar works in a sentence, we have an article dedicated to Japanese sentence structures.

In the meantime, please see the sample sentences below for a better understanding.

Basic form

ごはんをたべよう (Gohan wo tabeyou | ご飯を食べよう)

Let’s eat, Let’s have a meal

Using the particle を (wo)

Here are some sentences that use the particle を (wo). This particle indicates the direct object of action in the sentence.

こんやはわしょくをたべよう (Konya wa washoku wo tabeyou | 今夜は和食を食べよう)

Let’s eat Japanese food tonight

もっとやさいをたべよう (Motto yasai wo tabeyou | もっと野菜を食べよう)

Let’s eat more vegetables

ランチのあとにデザートをたべましょう (Ranchi no ato ni dezaato wo tabemashou | ランチの後にデザートを食べましょう)

Let’s have dessert after lunch

Related Japanese vocabulary

Here is some useful food vocabulary. Our article on Food in Japanese covers more food-related words and sentences.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
meal ご飯 ごはんGohan
breakfast 朝ご飯 あさごはんAsa gohan
lunch 昼ご飯 ひるごはんHiru gohan
dinner 夜ご飯 よるごはんYoru gohan
dinner 晩御飯 ばんごはんBan gohan
breakfast 朝食 ちょうしょくChoushoku
lunch 昼食 ちゅうしょくChuushoku
dinner 夕食 ゆうしょくYuushoku
vegetable 野菜 やさいYasai
fruits 果物 くだものKudamono
meatにくNiku
fishさかなSakana
snack, sweets, dessertおやつOyatsu

Using the particle に (ni)

Next is the particle に (ni), which indicates the time at which an action takes place.

さんじにおやつをたべよう (San ji ni oyatsu wo tabeyou | 3時におやつを食べよう)

Let’s eat a snack at 3 o’clock

はちじはんごろにごはんをたべましょう (Hachi ji han goro ni gohan wo tabemashou | 8時半にご飯を食べましょう)

Let’s eat around half past 8

なんじにごはんをたべようか? (Nanji ni gohan wo tabeyou ka? | 何時にご飯を食べようか?)

What time shall we eat?

Related Japanese vocabulary

Here is the vocabulary related to time. In relation to the topic, these can be helpful when answering questions on when you will eat.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
hour, o'clockJi
minutesふん、ぷんFun, Pun
half, 30 minutes before/afterはんHan
about, aroundころ、ごろKoro, Goro
At what time 何時 なんじNanji
time 時間 じかんJikan
appointment, meet up 待ち合わせ まちあわせMachi awase
just before, just now, some time agoさっきSakki
already, soon, nowもうMou
soon, almost もう直 もうすぐ、もうじきMousugu, Moujiki
soon, almostそろそろSoro soro
now, immediatelyいまIma
now, from now on 今から いまからIma kara
after this, from now on, in futureこれからKore kara
later, afterwards 後で あとでAto de
next time 今度 こんどKondo

To learn more about time in Japanese, we have an article dedicated to telling time in Japanese.

Using the particleで (de) or に (ni)

Lastly, the particles で (de) or に (ni) indicates the place at which an action takes place.

きょうはいえでごはんをたべよう (Kyou wa ie de gohan wo tabeyou | 今日は家でご飯を食べよう)

Let’s eat at home today

そこのレストランでおいしいごはんをたべよう (Soko no resutoran de oishii gohan wo tabeyou | そこのレストランで美味しいご飯を食べよう)

Let’s eat nice food at that restaurant

こんど、まだいったことのないおみせにごはんをたべにいこう (Kondo, mada itta koto no nai omise ni gohan wo tabe ni ikou | 今度まだ行ったことのないお店にご飯を食べに行こう)

Next time, let’s go to eat at a restaurant we haven’t been to yet

さんちょうについたら、おべんとうをたべましょう (Sanchou ni tsuitara, obentou wo tabemashou | 山頂に着いたら、お弁当を食べましょう)

Let’s eat our lunch boxes when we reach the summit

Related Japanese vocabulary

Here are different words related to places.

EnglishKanjiHiraganaRomaji
house, home,
someone's place
いえIe
friend's place,
friend's house
友達の家、
友達の家
ともだちのうち、
ともだちのいえ
Tomodachi no uchi, Tomodachi no ie
company, office 会社 かいしゃKaisha
school 学校 がっこうGakkou
restaurantレストランResutoran
shop, restaurant お店 おみせOmise
shop, restaurant 飲食店 いんしょくてんInshokuten
lunch box, packed food, obento お弁当 おべんとうObentou
eat in, eat here 店内 てんないTennai
take away, take out, to go 持ち帰り もちかえりMochi kaeri

Related phrases to “Let’s eat” in Japanese

To brush up on your conversational skill and knowledge of Japanese, we will learn some variations of “Let’s eat” in this chapter.

“Let’s go”/”Why don’t we…?” in Japanese

いっしょにごはんをたべにいこう (Issho ni gohan wo tabe ni ikou | 一緒にご飯を食べに行こう)

Let’s go to eat together

レストランがこみあうまえに、ごはんをたべにいきましょう (Resutoran ga komiau mae ni gohan wo tabe ni ikimashou | レストランが混みあう前に、ご飯を食べに行きましょう)

Let’s go to eat before the restaurant gets crowded

レストランにいこう (Resutoran ni ikou | レストランに行こう)

Let’s go to eat at a restaurant

どこかいんしょくてんにはいりましょうか? (Dokoka inshokuten ni hairimashou ka? | どこか飲食店に入りしょうか?)

Shall we go to some restaurant?

こんど、ふたりでたべにいってみない? (Kondo, futari de tabe ni itte minai? | 今度、2人で食べに行ってみない?)

Why don’t we go out to eat together next time?

ごはんをたべにいきませんか? (Gohan wo tabe ni ikimasen ka? | ご飯を食べに行きませんか?)

Would you like to go out to eat?

“It’s time to eat” in Japanese

たべるじかんだ (Taberu jikan da | 食べる時間だ)

It’s time to eat

たべるじかんです (Taberu jikan desu | 食べる時間です)

It’s time to eat

ごはんのじかんだ (Gohan no jikan da | ご飯の時間だ)

It’s time for a meal

ごはんのじかんです (Gohan no jikan desu | ご飯の時間です)

It’s time for a meal

そろそろごはんどきだ (Soro soro gohan doki da | そろそろご飯時だ)

It’s almost mealtime

“Please eat” in Japanese

めしあがれ (Meshiagare | 召し上がれ)

Bon appetite, Help yourself

ぜひ、めしあがってください (Zehi meshiagatte kudasai | 是非、召し上がって下さい)

Please help yourself, Enjoy your meal

さめないうちにどうぞ (Samenai uchi ni douzo | 冷めないうちにどうぞ)

Please enjoy before it gets cold, Go ahead

Japanese vocabulary related to “Please eat” in Japanese

  • さあ (Saa | Here we go, come on, well) *Japanese adverb and interjection
  • どうぞ (Douzo | Please) *Japanese adverb

Expressing how you feel in Japanese

When having meals or the lack thereof, here are different feelings that you might have and what they’re called in Japanese.

おなかがすいた (Onaka ga suita | お腹が空いた)

I’m hungry

おなかがすいてきた (Onaka ga suita | お腹が空いた)

I’m hungry

おなかがいっぱい (Onaka ga ippai | お腹が一杯 )

I’m full

のどがかわいた (Nodo ga kawaita | 喉が渇いた)

I’m thirsty

のどがかわいてきた (Nodo ga kawaita | 喉が渇いた)

I’m thirsty

もうたべられない (Mou taberarenai | もう食べられない)

I’m already full and can’t eat anymore

もうのめない (Mou nomenai | もう飲めない)

I’m already full and can’t drink anymore

Summary

Have you heard of the saying “You are what you eat”? This saying is not particularly widely known in Japan, though Japanese people care about eating well and happily with joy a lot.

When you learn how to say “Let’s eat” and other conversational ideas in Japanese by heart, we’re sure that you will be able to fully experience the authentic culture and fun chats with people in Japan.

Try saying these greetings when having meals with family and friends next time!

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