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.
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.