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Doyo no Ushi no Hi (Midsummer Day of the Ox), a traditional day to eat unagi (Japanese eel), may be long past, but there’s no “off” season for eating eel in Japan.

The “natural” maturity of eel is reached in fall, which gives rise to akiunagi: autumn eel. Popular chains such as Matsuya display the traditional hiragana “u” of “unagi,” shaped like a wiggling eel, on banners adorned with red maple leaves. Eel also features in furusato nōzei promotions, in which taxpayers can opt to pay taxes in their hometowns, rather than where they actually live, in exchange for gifts — often luxury foods.

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