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COVID-19 case numbers are once again rising in Japan, especially in urban centers. In some regions, eating and drinking establishments are once again being asked to close by 10 p.m. The usual year-end bōnenkai parties will be few and far between, if they happen at all. Even a casual afterwork round of bar and izakaya-hopping with only a few friends may not be a good idea.

But instead of lamenting what cannot be, why not take this time to sharpen your drinking appetizer (called ate, among other names) cooking skills? Having an “at-home izakaya” was a trend even before this extraordinary year. And this is the best time to savor the bounties of the autumn harvest.

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