Japanese article is here; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/lets-eat-unagi-2334
Hello everyone! This is MIKA.
It’s already the end of July, and how about you?
In Japan, a tempurature and an air humidity is very high, so please take a water and a salinity quite often!!
Anyway, today’s theme is “An eel”, “Unagi” in Japanese and “Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi”, 「土用(どよう)の丑(うし)の日(ひ)」in Japanese!
What is “Unagi”?
“Unagi” is a fish which has a long and slippery body. The mainly producing place is Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Aichi, and Shizuoka prefecture.
And Japanese eel is registered as one of the endangered species!
However, Japanese people love an eel very much, so cannot stop to eat!!
Suprisingly, we’ve started to eat it from Nara era, about 1,000 years ago.
But, “Unajuu”, a rice with an eel and the custom to take an eel in summer has been born in Edo era (1603~1868).
Then, why people started to eat an eel in summer?
“Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi” is the day to take an eel
When 「土用の丑の日」(Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi) is comming, supermarket and convenience store start to sell an eel positively.
Then, “Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi” has been changed every year. It’s 30th July in this year, but it was 4th August in the last year. Why it has been changed?
The reason why is the combination of “Doyou” and “Ushi-no-hi”.
What is 「土用」(Doyou)?
“Doyou” is 18 days terms before the each border lines of seasons; Risshun(beginning of spring), Rikka(beginning of summer), Rissyuu(beginning of autumn), and Rittou(beginnig of winter).
*About 「二十四節気(Nijuu-si-sekki)」, please read this article.
What is 「丑の日」(Ushi-no-hi)?
「丑」(Ushi) is a cow on the twelve horary signs.
Now we only use it as the symbol for each years, but until Edo era, people use it to express the directions, the dates, and the time.
So, on their calendar, the twelve horary signs were written in the place of the numbers.
This is the present calendar. The 8th August is with orange color is the day of “Risshuu”, and 18 days before “Risshuu” with yellow color are the term of “Doyou”.
And the twelve horary signs applies to the calendar, 30th July is the day of “Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi”.
Why do we take an eel?
Anyway, why people started to take an eel on the day of “Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi” in summer?
The answer is; a master of an eel restaurant asked to Gennai Hiraga, who was a scholar of Dutch learning in Edo era, how to sell an eel in summer because the season of an eel was from autumn to winter.
Then, he suggested the campaing that “Let’s take an eel in Doyou-no-ushi-no-hi in summer!”. After that, many people bought an eel!
That event will be the custom, and we take “Kabayaki of Unagi” or “Unajuu” on that day.
How about it?
In addition, not only “U”nagi, but also “U”don and “U”meboshi are OK because its name is starts with “U”!
Also, an eel is good for a heat illness, so I recommend you to try it when you visit Japan!