Sharing Happiness: Hot Pots in Japan
A classic winter cuisine in Japan that is popular in the colder months is "nabe," or hot pot. The pot is usually placed in the middle of the dining table, and everyone takes from it. Every region in Japan has hot pots and broths that locals are proud of. There're always smiles around the hot pot. In this episode of Seasoning the Seasons, we go up and down the Japanese islands in search of stories of happiness surrounding the hot pot.

A Married Couple's Hot Pot

Located at the base of the Noto Peninsula in Toyama Prefecture, Himi is a land of lush mountain forests. During the duck hunting season from November to February, a couple's life becomes lively. The husband takes aim at a duck urged into the air by his wife on the other side of the mountain. The hunted ducks are aged for a few days and cooked as a special hot pot meal. Trimmings from the whole duck are stewed into a thick soup that absorbs all of the rich flavors. When duck hot pot is on the menu, fellow neighbors come by.

A Great Supporting Player for Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is definitely a luxury hot pot. And if you're going to make sukiyaki, you must have green onions. They play a great supporting role in the dish, enhancing the beef, the main character. Sukiyaki has its origins in the late 19th century. As the era of the Samurai came to an end, one of the cultures that was introduced from the West was the eating of meat. And beef hot pot became a popular dish.

Grandma's Hot Pot

Wakinosawa, on the Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture has long been known for its Pacific cod fishing. The season of the Pacific cod is from December to February, when they come to lay eggs. Jyappa-Jiru is a hot pot using cod trimmings, eaten on New Year's Eve in Aomori. Even if they may live apart, grandchildren know that a happy time is guaranteed when they get together for grandma's hot pot. The flavor brings in another new year.