Tag Archives: freshwater eel

What are your country’s summer traditions?

10 Jul

Summer in Japan is very 蒸し暑い (“muggy” / hot and humid).

“Beware of heat stroke in the hot summer!”

Florida, where I grew up, is also hot and humid during the summer. But, unlike Japan, I don’t recall any particular traditions of summer in Florida…other than going to the beach or water-slide parks.

Japanese people like to celebrate the uniqueness of the seasons of the year. There are traditions in autumn, winter, spring and summer in Japan.

A few of Japan’s summer traditions are:

Summer festivals and fireworks shows.
Japan has 祭り (festivals) all year round…but there’s an abundance of them in the summer. And in late July to early August, there are many excellent 花火大会 (fireworks shows).
Click here to see my listing of summer festivals in the Tokyo area.

● スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”)


This is a Japanese summertime tradition that is similar to Mexico’s piñata. In both traditions, people take turns being blindfolded and try to hit the target with a stick, but in Mexico, the target is a kind of paper doll filled with candy that gets hit until it breaks open, Japan’s スイカ割り (“Watermelon smashing”) has a watermelon as the target. Once the watermelon gets hit and breaks open, everyone enjoys eating it.

● アナゴ (freshwater eel)
Eating eel is believed to give stamina to survive the grueling summer heat.
Click here to read a post that I wrote about it.

蝉 (Cicadas)
Every summer the 蝉 (cicadas) can be heard chirping in Japan. It’s considered one of the sounds of summer.
I wrote this post about the cicada in Japan.

● かき氷 (Shaved ice)

Eating shaved ice with a sweet syrup flavoring is a popular way to people to stay cool in the summer in Japan.
If you want to buy a  かき氷 (Shaved ice) in Japan, you can find them when you see a flag or poster that looks like this:

The character is 「氷」 and means “ice”

● ビアガーデン (“Beer garden”)

In the summertime, many places in Japan offer space to drink beer outdoors (and often on the building’s roof) in the cool night breeze.
Some places offer an “all-you-drink” (within a time limit) special.

●Pools and beaches

Of course, swimming is popular in the summertime in Japan just as it is in Florida.
Pools and beaches in Japan have lifeguards on duty and very few are open year-round.
Most of them are opening around now. Toshimaen, an excellent amusement park / waterslide park / pool in Tokyo opened on weekends only beginning July 2nd this year and will be open everyday from July 16th until September 4th.

What types of traditions does your country have in the summer?

WW2 Allies will attend ceremonies in Japan

27 Jul

Yesterday was 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of the Ox“).

This is a day that occurs once or twice every summer. It always falls on a date in late July, and when there’s a second date it’s usually in early August.
Last year was the first time in 213 years that this event occurred twice in July.

This year there won’t be a second date.

It is tradition in Japan to eat うなぎ (freshwater eel) on 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of the Ox“).
Eel is said to give stamina to withstand the grueling summer heat.

So, as we usually do on 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of the Ox“), we ate 「うな丼」 (grilled freshwater-eel on rice).

It was delicious.

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Every year on August 6 in 広島 (Hiroshima) and on August 9 in 長崎 (Nagasaki) there are peace ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of those cities in August 1945.

And every year, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki invite the U.S. president to attend or at least send a representative.
The reason for this invitation is in hopes that America will attend the ceremonies as a statement against war and nuclear arms.
It is extended as an ally to America not necessarily to attempt to get an apology from America…just an acknowledgment that war is bad and should be avoided.

Every year America declines the invitation.

But last year, U.S. President Barack Obama made a speech in Prague in which he expressed his desire and plans for a world without nuclear weapons.
He always said that he would like to attend the peace ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
His words made the survivors of the nuclear attacks in Japan happy. It was quite the opposite for the statements Washington has always made in the past that the bombings were necessary to end World War 2.

Well, it seems that this is the year that America has finally accepted the invitation from Japan to attend the peace ceremonies.

Next month will mark the 65th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, although U.S. President Barack Obama won’t be attending the ceremonies himself, it has been announced that the U.S. Ambassador to Japan will attend the ceremonies in his place.

Also, Britain and France will be sending their ambassadors as well.

It will be the first time anyone from the governments of those countries have attended these events.

When I came to Japan in 1990, it had been 45 years since the bombings. I remember the fiftieth anniversary in 1995…it was a big event and it was hoped that then-U.S. President Bill Clinton would attend, but he declined just as every U.S. president before and since (until Obama) has.

It has been twenty years since I first came to Japan and now early next month will mark the 65th anniversary of the bombings and I’m sure it’ll be a big event again…especially since the Allied ambassadors will be in attendance.

うな丼

19 Jul

今日は「土用の丑の日」 (Today is “The Day of The Ox“)…which is the day in summer that people eat ウナギ (freshwater eel). Usually the eel is prepared as 「うな丼」 (Eel on Rice).

The うな丼 that I ate today.

The うな丼 that I ate today.

Eating ウナギ (freshwater eel) in the summertime is said to give you stamina to stand the hot, humid days.

I wrote a post about 「土用の丑の日」 (“The Day of The Ox“) last year. Click here to read it.

We are eating 「うな丼」 (Eel on Rice) for dinner today.

It’s quite delicious!

Have you ever tried eel? ウナギ (Freshwater eel) is different from アナゴ (Saltwater eels).

ウナギ (Freshwater eel) is richer tasting and, in Japan, is usually prepared with a sweet sauce and eaten on rice. アナゴ (Saltwater eel) is the eel that is used on 寿司 (sushi), in Japan.

Both are good…but I think ウナギ (freshwater eel) is better.

土用の丑

26 Jul

Last Thursday (July 24), was 土用の丑 (Do-yo-u-no-ushi (“Day of the Ox”)).

This is a day in Summer that people are meant to eat うなぎ (Freshwater eel). Eating うなぎ (Freshwater eel) is said to give you stamina to stand the hot summer days.

I think うなぎ (Freshwater eel) is delicious…but we didn’t eat it on 土用の丑 (Do-yo-u-no-ushi ) this year.

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東京 (Tokyo) was voted the 2nd most expensive city in the world (behind Moscow).

I can’t see it. I don’t think Tokyo’s at all as expensive as it’s said to be.

We visited America four years ago and many things seemed expensive there! Gasoline is cheap in America (even if the price is rising these days…it’s still less expensive in America than many other countries), but restaurants, souvenirs and amusement parks all seemed expensive in America—and alot of services require tipping there (there’s no tipping in Japan…but the quality of products and services is high here).