They’re usually enjoyed in the colder months, but many of these dishes are also eaten year round. In Japan they evolved as wholesome, economical, and complete one-pot meals, especially with rice or noodles added at the finish as is customary. Compared to Western foods, they’re heartier than soup but not as dense as stew
Think of hot pots as a mingling of tasty layers: broth, foundation ingredients (basic foods found in every dish), main ingredients, natural flavorings like soy sauce and miso, and accents and garnishes like wasabi.
Each of these enhances the others and together they create the dish. And because the ingredients and flavorings cook in broth, they impart their essence to the liquid as well as to the other foods in the pot.
So everything is nuancing everything else all the time—which is why these dishes produce such delightfully vibrant tastes even though they’re so easy to make.