I lived in Japan for seven years and in the middle of my first Japanese summer I ran into a weird exhaustion. The Japanese living in my hometown of Kyoto told me that I was experiencing “NatsuBate” — summer exhaustion. Physical fatigue, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping are some of the symptoms that Japanese and foreigners alike can experience in the Japanese humid summer.
Good hydration, avoiding too much switching between air conditioning and the humid heat can help, of course. But the Japanese have a saying that “Taking eel [Unagi] on the day of Doyo No Ushi (end of July) can avoid Natsubate“. So I quickly went out and started eating eel — my favorite form was in a donburi.
I decided to share a bit more about the Japanese Eel with you. Here is a diagram of the eel’s place in animal taxonomy:
Finally, eels live in very narrow long rock crevices. Many Japanese traditional homes are built long and thin, and are thus called “Unagi no Nedoko” (An Eel’s Sleeping Spot). I lived in two such homes and below I have drawn a diagram of one of my houses’ floor plan with accompanying pictures from the web that illustrate what each of the areas looked like.