tasty tidbits from the old-fashioned Japanese Kitchen
in Japan often announce their specialty by hanging a fluttering hata (flag, pictured left) or noren (short curtain, pictured below) just outside their entrance.
Designs vary but
most incorporate the graceful curve of a slithery eel to form the syllable “u.”
The sign above says simply:
U NA GI
Then, as today, restaurants would ask famous customers to write a few words of praise that the shop could display. Perhaps in jest, Hiraga wrote that eating the restaurant's excellent eel that day -- it just happened to be doyō ushi no hi -- had restored his waning energy. His comment certainly energized the mid summer eel fishing industry!
unajū (left) and unadon (right)
Days calculated by the old-fashioned lunar-based koyomi, change each year. In 2016, the "pre-autumn" (doyō) "ox day" (ushi no hi) falls on JULY 30. Consumers eagerly look forward to special doyō ushi no hi promotions at department store food halls, supermarkets, and local shops.