Doyo no Ushi no Hi (Midsummer Day of the Ox)
With the rainy season upon us, most of us are traveling with an umbrella every day. However, just around the corner are delightfully sunny summer days in which we can enjoy going to the beach, watching fireworks, partaking in summer festivals, and so much more!
During this sweltering season in Japan is a day called doyo no ushi no hi, “doyo” meaning the transition period into the next season. Literally meaning “day of the ox of the seasonal change period,” it falls, this year, on July 27 and is among the hottest days of the year. Japanese tradition on this day is to indulge in succulent unagi, or freshwater eel, as it is both scrumptious to the palate and it helps you recover from fatigue due to its abundance of nourishing vitamins and minerals. It is even thought to aid in weight loss.
This custom of eating eels on doyo no ushi no hi dates back to the 700s AD, when Manyoshu – a collection of classical Japanese poetry – was believed to have been compiled by Otomo no Yakamochi. In an old work by the famous poet, he pokes fun at his friend Iwamaro for appearing gaunt and malnourished despite eating to his heart’s content, and sarcastically remarks that the solution to his weight loss is to eat more eels.
As it is easy to get sick at the turn of the season, let’s watch more carefully over our diets and try some delicious unagi to help get us through this hot and muggy weather!