I've been thinking about apologies. I've always known, but hadn't thought about for a while, the fact it's built into the Japanese language. And false modesty, except they are ritual sayings and not exactly thought of as false modesty by the speaker.
"Sumimasen" or "Suimasen"(casual) is most often used in place of "Excuse me" or even "Hello", but it's also one of the most formal of apologies; "Dohmo sumimasen deshita." The even "higher" apology, "Moushiwake arimasen" can also be used as "Excuse me" when you are trying to get someone's attention, or just to start an inquiry with a stranger.
If you gets a crate of, say, apples from your home town known for good apples, you might want to share some with your friends or neighbors. You start by apologizing, "O Hitotsu desuga..." (There's only one, but...) or "Tsumaranai mono desuga..." (It's really uninteresting, but...), even if you think they are darned good apples and they should love you for them. Not completing the sentence is just as important as that gives your givee a chance to thank you, or for you to "switch the subject" and go into explaining how you got the apples. This one really bothered me, and I never shared my loot with my neightbours.
At the start of the meal, everybody thanks the cook by saying, often in unison, "Itadaki masu," (We will now receive the food,) acknowledging not only the cook's work but also signing to other diners dinner has commenced. At the end of the meal, everybody thanks the cook, saying, "Gochisoh sama deshita," (It was truly a feast,) to which the cook responds, "Osomatsu sama deshita," (Sorry, it was only a frugal meal.)
Except in my family. Dad and brother always started the meal by saying loudly and cheerfully, "Osomatsu sama" whenever I cooked.
Geez, guys, sooooo-reeeeeeeee!!!