As autumn segues into winter in northeastern Japan, the residents of Akita Prefecture are bolstering themselves for the long cold months ahead. Bitter gales sweep off the bleak, stormy Sea of Japan, bringing Siberian chills and snowfalls that can cover fields and sidewalks for four months or longer.

Far from being daunted by these harsh conditions, the indomitable inhabitants of this coastal region fortify themselves with hearty, warming comfort food. One popular local specialty for these times is the hot pot known as kiritanpo, traditionally eaten around the hearth in rural farmhouses and still to this day prepared at faux-rustic hostelries in the heart of Akita City.

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