In this series of articles, we’d like to focus on Japanese traditional & seasonal dishes. Today’s topic will be an eel called “Unagi” eaten on special days.
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-Doyo no ushi no hi（Midsummer Day of the Ox）
On the Midsummer Day of the Ox, there is the custom ,among the Japanese ,of eating eel.. On Midsummer Day of the Ox since the ancient times , legend had it that people wouldn’t suffer from the summer heat if they ate something that had a hiragana “u” in its name. The Midsummer Day of the Ox occurs around July 20, and this year’s designated day is July 29.
-How it begins?
It is said that the Japanese custom of eating eel during the hot summer months was started by a well-known scholar in the Edo-period, Gennai Hiraga, famous for the introduction to Japan of the erekiteru, or electrostatic generator. Apparently, he saved an eel restaurant that had been experiencing declining sales during summer by putting up a flyer saying “The Midsummer Day of the Ox Eel Day” in front of the restaurant. There is also a traditional belief that if you eat food starting with the “U” (oo) sound, such as ume-boshi (pickled plum) or uri (gourd), you won’t get sick. That is another reason why it has been a Japanese custom to eat unagi (eel) during the hot summer months.
Especially, Japanese eat “Una-ju” on this day. Una-ju is a marinated eel over a box of rice.
The eel tends to be grilled, and the Unaju may refer to the type of bowl it is served in. If it is a ‘box’ it is Unaju, and if it is served in a bowl, it is ‘Unadon’.
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Japan has many seasonal foods and traditional Japanese sweets. As Japan’s leading culinary school in Tokyo, we are open for anyone who’s interested in Japanese Dishes. Please check our menu and class schedule below, and please feel free to contact us for your inquiry!
(Source of today’s article: https://www.alc.co.jp/speaking/article/kihon/70.html)