The word doyo refers to the 18 days before a season changes. Within this period, ushi-no-hi (day of the ox, one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs) is called doyo-no-ushi-no-hi (day of the ox of the seasonal change period).
Did you know that in Japan, people eat unagi (eel) on the doyo-no-ushi-no-hi of summer? In this issue, we will give an explanation of this custom.
In the Edo period, an eel restaurant had difficulty selling eel in summer, so the owner sought the advice of Hiraga Gennai, a famous herbalist and inventor. Gennai suggested that because people believed in the tradition of eating dishes that began with the letter u on ushi-no-hi to survive the summer heat, the owner should put a sign out in front of his shop saying Today Is Ushi-no-Hi. As a result, the eels that did not sell during the summer in the past now sold very well. Other eel restaurants followed suit and advertised in the same manner. Thus, people started to enjoy eating grilled eel on the day of the ox in summer, which became a Japanese custom.
Although this custom started from an advertising campaign, because eels are rich in vitamin B, it is recognized in academic circles as being effective in fighting summer heat exhaustion and a loss of appetite. The ushi-no-hi of summer this year is on July 21 (Thu.) and August 2 (Tue.). Why not try some eel to survive the hot and humid summer of Japan?