© 2012 niall. All rights reserved.



Thanks to the morning light,
Thanks to the foaming sea,
To the uplands of New Hampshire,
To the green-haired forest free.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, The World-Soul

If we meet someone who owes us thanks, we right away remember that. But how often do we meet someone to whom we owe thanks without remembering that?
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Elective Affinities

To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.
Victor Hugo, L’Homme qui rit

i thank you god for this most amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
e e cummings, I thank you god for this most amazing

Thank you. You are a very pleasant person.
Thank you. You are too.
John Ashbery, My Erotic Double

And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you.
T S Eliot, The Waste Land

I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, act 1, scene 1

My desk, most loyal friend
thank you. You’ve been with me on
every road I’ve taken.
My scar and my protection.
Marina Tsvetaeva, Desk

In Japan there is a Labor Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November.

It was originally a harvest festival. Under the American Occupation after the Second World War it was reborn as Labor Thanksgiving Day. Theoretically it is a day to appreciate everyone’s work and also the results of everyone’s work. But it also includes the ideas of human rights and environment protection.

There is a tradition in some religions of saying grace before a meal. To say thank you for the meal and perhaps to ask for it to be blessed. For what we are about to receive…

Before a meal Japanese people say itadakimasu. I receive this with thanks. It’s one of many Japanese phrases that don’t have a simple translation.

It is to give thanks to the plants and animals and fish that you are about to eat. And to the preparers of the meal and to the farmers and fishermen and everyone else in the chain who helped to bring the food to the table. I wrote about food in dharma food.

Another way of saying receive in Japanese is ukeru. In the martial arts the person who receives a technique is the uke. The act of receiving a technique is ukemi. The ukemi can mean the breakfall. Or it can mean the whole process of attacking and then receiving a technique. I’ll talk about ukemi in detail in future posts and columns.

After a meal Japanese people say gochisousama deshita. It was a wonderful meal.

I wrote about saying thank you in the martial arts in doumo. arigatou. gozaimashita.

Sometimes Japanese people ask what we say in English for itadakimasu. Well we can always use French.

Bon appétit.


e-books, poems + background articles

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poems

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Elective Affinities

Victor Hugo, L’homme qui rit – in French

Victor Hugo, L’homme qui rit – in English

T S Eliot, The Waste Land

William Shakespeare, The Complete Works

e e cummings, i thank you god for this most amazing

John Ashbery, My Erotic Double

Marina Tsvetaeva, excerpts from Desk


photo: Kyōto – Nakagyō: Honke Owariya – Hourai Soba by Wally Gobetz

published contemporaneously on the aikido site aikiweb

my columns on aikiweb


© niall matthews 2012


  1. niall

    Thanks Carina. I don’t think that it’s exactly thanking our partners for lending us their bodies. That kind of implies that we are each doing our own training separately in a vacuum. We thank them for training together with us and for helping us through that training to understand our budo better. And for sharing that important time together.

  2. Thank you Niall for your interesting post. Neither in Spain, nor in Germany or in Argentina we celebrate Thanksgiving day , but we do celebrate the workers day on the 1st of May.
    I’m also not used to thank for the meals before eating, but I’m grateful everyday for all the blessings I receive like that I, my family and dear ones are healthy, to have a job to live properly and many nice things I get every day.
    One more thing is when we greet the last partner in our aikido class we are thanking each other for lending our body to train.

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