This year July 24* marks doyo no hi, a day on which Japanese traditionally eat unagi, a.k.a eel, to combat natsubate, or the lethargy that many suffer when Japan's daily temperatures run 30-35 C (low to mid 90's F), and the humidity bears down at over 90%. Despite the unsavory image that eel
congers, ahem, conjures for those who've never had it, it's fantastically tasty—and loaded with vitamins too. Naturally that means that plenty of eel is consumed in Japan on the other 364 days of the year, as well.
Anyway, since Japanese marketers are wont to neglect any tactical opportunity, I wasn't much surprised last week when JT released a new soda that apparently contains eel extract and the five vitamins found in abundance in unagi (A, B1, B2, D and E).
Pictured above, Unagi Nobori, is being shilled as a "nutritional supplement carbonated beverage." The cartoon character represents one of the cooks you'd commonly see at a traditional eel barbecue restaurant. The fan he's holding is used to keep the charcoal hot; if you look closely you can see that it's imprinted with an illustration of an eel. Very loosely translated, the copy to his left reads "Don't get beat by the heat. Boost your energy with effervescence."
By the way "unagi nobori" means something like "sudden spike" in Japanese (as in, say, "stock prices saw a sudden spike yesterday"). Presumably this implies that the drink will give you a sharp spike of energy. . .
* In some years, doyo no hi occurs twice. 2008 is one such year; the second occurrence is August 5.