Friday, July 22, 2011

Midsummer Day of the Ox and eel

                                                   This is cuisine for us,

yesterday we had eel for dinner  (pic is from pc-site)
I wonder how many of my friends know Japanese people eat eel and it's one of cuisines for us.  We have an old saying that when you eat eel on "Midsummer Day of the Ox" you won’t suffer from the summer heat. It is from the ancient Chinese calendar system. Oh, I needed to have it, especially this year when we all considering power-saving!!!  I bought ready-made "unajyu 鰻重; rice with grilled eel on top" from take-out food store. We were lucky that we had good sized ones with freshly cooked hot rice with the reasonable price.
I must put that  they are eaten because of the numerous health benefits (nutritional value) as well. I hope you don't think "It's yucky", haha.

the origin of this custom from pc-site (for my own sake)
It is said that this custom started during the Edo period.  According to one of the stories, an eel shop owner asked a famous scholar (Gennai Hiraga,平賀源内) for his advice on how to sell more eels in the summer. The scholar remembered the folk tradition saying that when you eat food that has a “u” sound in its name, you won’t suffer from the summer heat. (Eel is called “unagi” in Japanese). Then, he recommended that they should put a sign for “the Day of the Ox” in front of the eel shop so that eel shop could sell a lot of eel. Then, other eel shops began to do the same thing, and the custom of eating eel on “Doyo no Ushi” Day grew common in Japan.
“Doyo no Ushi” Day is the day of the ox (from the 12 symbols of the Chinese zodiac) during the 18 days before autumn starts. According to the ancient Chinese calendar system, autumn starts on around August 7, so the 18 days before autumn starts usually fall in the period from around July 20 to August 7. This year we have two “Doyo no Ushi” days which are July 19 and July 31.


  1. Anything to stay cool Orchid! I guess I could eat eel, in fact many many years ago, I did have raw eel (sushi) and I thought it was good. I have tried to comment on your blog several times in the past days and not sure if it let me. Hope this one does! Stay cool, Orchid! We'll be up to 46 degrees by this time next week!

  2. Orchid, Blogger fixed the problem and I can read your new posts again!! I am very happy with that. I tasted eel once a long time ago, it was fried, it wasn't too bad. Italians like it, especially for our Christmas Eve dinner. xo,

  3. Oh dear Orchid...on this one I'll have to pass. Raw oysters are about as exotic as I can manage! I have family that would be right there with you and enjoying it tremendously!

    Thanks for signing on to my friend's blog...I appreciate your thoughtfulness!

  4. Konichiwa kore wa Unagi desuka?Watashiwa Unagi dai ski desu.Yoroshiku anata ni-Edith.

  5. Konichiwa Orchid, The eel looks delicious. It looks like it has been cooked with a sweet glaze of barbeque. I hope it helps you to stay cool. I've just been learning that Japan is unbearably hot and humid in the summer. I think I'll ask my family if we should try some!

  6. WoW Orchid,wonder if I can find eel. Would be nice to be cool.
    Thank you for sharing the imformation. I learn so much from you and love it. Hugs

  7. The eel looks really tasty in the photo and I'm hoping it helped to cool you off. I haven't had eel in a very long time but remember that it was fried and I enjoyed it. If it gets to be too warm here I'll find some and give it a try.

  8. Dearest Orchid,

    Wow, yummy eel! It has been lots of years now since I did prepare it when my brothers caught eel in the River Meuse in The Netherlands. It is considered a delicatesse in my home country! Maybe we have similar traditions because of the 400+ year of friendship between Japan and The Kingdom of The Netherlands.
    For sure you have enjoyed this yourself. Wishing you a happy weekend (remainder of it) and lots of love,


  9. I've never considered eating eel, but if it is a "cool" food, I'm all for it. It is 103 degrees farenheit in North Carolina today, and I'm all for trying to stay cool.