Yoko Kawakami
My Eyes Tokyo E/J Translator


Have you ever seen lots of pieces of packed fatty eels, piled at the fish sections of Japanese supermarkets recently? Or you might have seen the TV news showing fresh eels at fish markets in Japan at this time of year? This phenomenon tells you that it’s time for “doyo-no-ushi-no-hi “! Doyo-no-ushi-no-hi (土用の丑の日)”, the midsummer day of the ox, comes on one or two days a year. In this year of 2015, the day is on July 24th and August 5th. “Doyo” (土用) means the 18 days before the first day of each four seasons. “Ushi-no-hi (丑の日)”, the day of ox, is named after one of the twelve Oriental Zodiac animals. When Japanese people say “doyo-no-ushi-no-hi“, they mean the ox day before midsummer.


They eat unagi (eel, うなぎ, 鰻) on that day to help themselves to get through the coming severe summer days. Unagi is believed to build up stamina to beat the summer heat. Also in the Japanese tradition, foods which start with the sound “u,” such as “umeboshi (pickled plum, 梅干し)”, “uri (kinds of melon, うり, 瓜)” and “udon (wheat noodles, うどん)”, prevent diseases. In the Kanto region, the eastern part of Japan, unagi are filleted from their back. Why? The reason is that filleting unagi from their stomach reminds people of “seppuku (切腹)”, in other words, “harakiri“!  


Today’s useful Japanese expressions

Una-ju hitotsu kudasai. うなじゅう ひとつ ください。 One una-ju, please.
*Una-ju (うな重, 鰻重) is the grilled eel and rice with salty sweet source served in a lacquered box.

644195_10200109420670997_582735891_nUna-ju *Photo by MET  

– Sansho no kona wa doko desuka? さんしょう の こな は どこ ですか? Where is the powder of sansho?
*The powder of sansho (山椒), Japanese pepper, matches the grilled eel very well!

P1150317Powder of sansho *Photo from web


Yoko Kawakami
A cat lover who admires the power of humor. Also an organizer of an international karaoke club in Tokyo. Enjoy karaoke together at the Meetup group “Enjoy Karaoke Together“!!!


*Proofread by Daniel Penso
*Produced by Chieko Tanaka (My Eyes Tokyo)