The Tsugaru Railway is an important lifeline for local people. It almost always keeps on running, no matter how heavy the snowfalls. During winter, the railway operates trains heated with stoves which have become a tourist attraction. Dried squid roasted on the stoves tastes great when washed down with sake. An elderly woman entertains the passengers with traditional local folk songs. The stove trains run every day from December through March.
The practice of this traditional craft is unique to Showa Village in Fukushima Prefecture. Threads are woven from grass fibers. Using the Karamushi method, weaving enough threads for a kimono sash takes around 2 months. To keep the tradition alive, Showa Village began accepting apprentices from other areas around 2 decades ago. Weavers work slowly through the unforgiving winter, waiting for spring to come around the corner.
Hatahata (Sailfin Sandfish)
The Hatahata, or sailfin sandfish, is an important winter food in Akita Prefecture. In the port city of Oga, the beginning of December is the busiest time of the year. In winter, large numbers of Hatahata head towards the coast to spawn. Hatahata are a smooth-bodied fish without prominent scales. Females carrying eggs are particularly delicious. Hatahata are a boon for fishermen as the massive shoals lead to large catches.