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The Dinner Table is the Bedrock of Social Stability

“There’s a tradition [in our dorm], where we have a hot pot party for anything special. Last year, we only had two or three; but this year we kept having more and more. Before we knew it, we were having one every week.

When we were all together around the hot pot, it made me think, maybe this was the taste of happiness…”

—excerpt from Mizaki’s graduation speech, from Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojou

Food is important to me, and eating home-made food with friends and family especially so.

When at university, the last flat I lived in had a rule that each resident would cook food for the rest of the flat, and that we would all eat together. We were a fairly varied bunch, with attitudes, opinions and values quite different from one another. What allowed us to be nonetheless as close as we were, I believe, were these dinners. We all pitched in a bit of money, we all cooked, and we all ate together.

I think there could be no more important practice when living under the same roof as others, as to make a point of eating at the very least at the same time as your cohabitants, if not even sharing the same meal with them. It is around this activity that the rest of the living relationship can be both built and maintained.

I am fairly certain that it is a cultural trait that families in Mediterranean countries still make a firm point of practicing this, and I believe it is still common fare throughout most of Europe and Asia, but I fear it may be lost in Anglo-American society, and certainly forgotten or forgone in non-family cohabitations, amongst students, graduates and young professionals alike. Alas.

In the anime series Sakurasou no pet no kanojou, from which the above image set was pulled, hot pot has featured prominently, and with reason – it is a key tradition amongst the main protagonists, a bunch of highly creative and/or artistic students who live together in a dorm called Sakurasou, who encourage each other along the way, and have to deal with young artists’/students’ hardships, most predominantly contrasting how far natural talent VS hard work can get you, and of course, relationships. The final set of episodes sees them unite their efforts to preserve what they cherish most, and pull out all the stops to maintain their shared dream.

I went through the 24 episodes of the series to find all the hotpots I could. Some eluded me (no close up and no description) but those appearing above, and as described below, are the ones we get explicit knowledge of.

Hotpots in order of appearance in the series:

  1. Shiina’s hotpot: spring onion and tuna
  2. Aoyama’s hotpot (unnamed)
  3. Sorata’s success hotpot: red bean rice and beef intestine
  4. Yuuko’s hotpot: pork and cabbage
  5. Sorata’s first hotpot (unnamed)
  6. Newbies’ hotpot: spring onion and tuna (with head)

A very heart-warming monologue, from one of the protagonists, her graduation speech, recollecting the granted wishes, attained dreams of finding friends, and building trust in Sakurasou, is available here (Japanese subtitled in English) – spoiler alert: it’s from the penultimate episode.

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