日本人[にほんじん]にとってこの日[ひ]はどういう意味[いみ] (= meaning)か－それは、この日[ひ]はうなぎ(= eel)を食[た]べる日[ひ]なのです。日本人[にほんじん]の多[おお]くはうなぎの蒲焼[かばやき] (this is a method of cooking; see the description below*)を食[た]べます。昨日[きのう]、今日[きょう]とうなぎ屋[や]さんはとても忙[いそが]しいです。 上[うえ]の写真[しゃしん]が、うなぎの蒲焼[かばやき]です。
もちろん(= of course)、いつうなぎを食[た]べてもいいです。でも7月のおわりごろ、日本[にほん]はとても暑[あつ]く、多[おお]くの人[ひと]はあまり食欲[しょくよく] (= appetite)がありません。そこで、栄養[えいよう]いっぱいの(= nutritious)うなぎを食[た]べて元気[げんき]になろう!、という習慣[しゅうかん] (= habit; custom)があるのです。この習慣[しゅうかん]は18世紀[せいき] (= the 18th Century)ごろから始[はじ]まったそうです。
What does this day mean to Japanese – it means this is the day for eating eel! Many Japanese eat a dish of eel kabayaki (this is a method of cooking; see the description below*) today. Eel restaurants in Japan (yes, such restaurants exist in Japan!) have been extraordinarily busy yesterday and today! The above photo shows our favourite eel kabayaki.
Of course, you can eat eel any days of the year. The end of July, which is now, is very hot and humid in Japan; therefore, many Japanese tend to lose their appetite and it would badly affect their health. So we believe that eel, which is such nutritiously rich food, would be good to eat now in order to survive the height of summer. Apparently this custom was established sometime in the 18th century.
I read this news on this page of Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper.
* Kabayaki is one kind of yakimono, in which the fish is opened up, boned, and skewed, then grilled while being basted with a thick, sweet sauce (cited from Hosking, Richard (1996) A dictionary of Japanese food. Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company).