BlogTV: Eel, It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

BlogTV is back on the air with the latest video from Japanese news. This short video from FujiTV (1min30sec, Japanese and English subtitles) pushes a preposterous new fashion on the public.

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Eating eel, (unagi) is a well known summer tradition in Japan. It is an ancient belief that eating unagi during the hottest days of summer will restore one’s vitality and help endurance under the sweltering temperatures. I think this “ancient tradition” was invented by unagi vendors, just as surely as is this new fashion concept, eelskin sport coats.

We are treated to a fitting by a haberdasher, offering the sport coat for the modest sum of 220,000 Yen, approximately $1850. These eels were grown in Canada specifically for their skins, the narrow strips of eelskin are shipped to China for tanning and stitching into larger pieces, and cut into the final product in Japan. It may be hard to see in this low resolution video, but during a closeup of the leather you can see the leather is rough and crudely stitched. Our fashion victim expresses his surprise and says the jacket is extremely light, sugoku karui, an expression you might likely hear when someone describes a light summer food. The comparison is made between the thickness of cow leather and the thinness of eel leather. Perhaps this is an evocation of ancient buddhist prohibitions against eating meat, while no such prohibition against eating fish and eel existed. Certainly nobody ever described grilled unagi, with its syrupy sauce (as seen briefly in the closing sequence) as a light dish.

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