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Eel sales reached their peak on Tuesday as people prepared to eat traditional kabayaki grilled eel on the Day of the Ox.

Supermarkets and department stores looked to woo consumers keen to eat precooked eel dishes at home amid the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Aeon Retail Co. offered extra-large kabayaki grilled eels that could be shared among several family members.

The eels were about 1.5 times larger than last year’s products, but about 10 percent cheaper, according to the supermarket arm of Aeon Co.

Online sales of the eels, which Aeon promoted in order to ease crowding at stores and reduce food waste, were brisk, with some 2.5 times more orders than last year, according to the company.

Department store Daimaru Tokyo, run by Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co., a unit of J. Front Retailing Co., sold about 50 different types of eel products.

Daimaru’s products included extravagant dishes, such as bento boxed meals containing both eel and wagyu beef, as many customers sought to enjoy luxurious meals to make up for having to avoid eating out amid the epidemic.

Chefs cook eel at a restaurant in the city of Narita, near Tokyo, on Tuesday, the Day of the Ox, when eel is traditionally eaten in Japan. | KYODO
Chefs cook eel at a restaurant in the city of Narita, near Tokyo, on Tuesday, the Day of the Ox, when eel is traditionally eaten in Japan. | KYODO

“It’s a little expensive, but I want to treat myself since it’s just once a year,” said a 43-year-old female company worker living in Tokyo.

Matsuya Co.’s department store in the Ginza district of Tokyo ran a sales campaign in which customers who purchased yukata casual summer kimonos got a free set of eel sushi. The store was looking to promote its eel with the help of the summer habit of wearing yukata.

 

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