Oden and Yakiimo, dishes that you appreciate most in winter
There are dishes in Japan that you should try, which are better in winter than any other season. One of them is a dish called “Oden”. Oden is a dish where Konnyaku (a tabular jelly made from the root of Konnyaku potatoes, one of the Araceae family), Daikon (a type of radish and an Asian vegetable where you eat the tube-shaped white root), Chikuwa (Minced fish is rolled around a stick and steamed), Satsuma-age (deep-fried fish paste) and boiled eggs are cooked in a pot altogether in the soup stock seasoned with soy sauce. You can take whatever you like onto your plate and eat them with condiments such as mustard. Each ingredient absorbs the flavor that seeps out of other ingredients, so the longer you cook, the tastier it becomes. You can also turn it into “Ojiya” or risotto by putting rice and beaten eggs into the soup left in the pot and cooking it to boil. You can find Oden in Izakaya restaurants specialized in Oden, but it also becomes available at convenience stores in winter, which makes it easier for you to try.
Until the mid-20th century, Yakiimo (roasted sweet potatoes), were roasted by wrapping sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and putting them into the fire when people burned fallen leaves they collected from sweeping. It has been loved by children as a snack since old times. When you split the potato in half, sweet and savory smell spreads together with the steam, which is very appetizing. It has become more easily available these days since mobile stalls come to residential areas to sell roasted sweet potatoes and convenience stores and supermarkets roast and sell sweet potatoes over the counter.
Ice fishing of pond smelt
Let us introduce “Wakasagi-zuri” or pond smelt fishing, an activity you can enjoy only in winter. Pond smelt are small freshwater fish that live in the areas from the lower current area to inner bay, lakes and marshes. The best time to fish them is from winter to early spring. They have soft bones and no scales, so you can eat the entire fish as tempura or by simply grilling by itself. You can fish these pond smelt by drilling a hole in the frozen surface of the lake and lowering a fishing line into the hole. Pond smelt fishing is popular in the areas that have a harsh cold weather on winter such as Hokkaido, Tohoku region, Gunma Prefecture and a part of Nagano Prefecture. Some hotels offer a package that combines lodging and pond smelt fishing in winter, so you can enjoy the fishing more easily by applying through your hotel. You should try!
Japanese people enjoy their life, sensing what each season offers. What a waste to stay in your room at the hotel “because it’s cold”! You should go out and enjoy Japanese winter fully.