Warming Body and Heart at a Yakiimo Shop

On a cold winter day in Japan, a piping-hot sweet potato baked so a natural sweet syrup oozes from its skin is hard to beat. An old-fashioned, no-frills shop in Ibaraki Prefecture sells these potatoes that warm the body and heart. Customers there include a woman sending potatoes as a gift; a mother buying a treat for her young daughter; and newlyweds sharing a potato and enjoying the simple things in life. For three days at the end of a year in which life was turned upside-down, we ask people about why they crave this simple, warming snack.