Literally, 闇鍋 (やみなべ, yaminabe) means “dark hotpot”. Figuratively, it indicates a unique Japanese-style hot-pot dish, which, in fact, is impossible to describe the “dish” because it can be anything; it is made of soup and the ingredients brought by each participant, and they don’t know what “ingredients” the other participants bring. Obviously, 闇鍋 is not meant for having a good meal, but for a social event that may add a little spice into your everyday life.
In fact, there are no specific rules for 闇鍋 except that each participant brings ingredients and keeps them secret from the others. As long as participants are prudent enough to bring general ingredients like meat, fish or vegetables, the meal should taste decent. However, as you can imagine, the dish can be a complete disaster with one crazy person. Therefore, in order to keep the hot-pot dish at least edible, there are some general but obvious rules for what to bring as ingredients as follows:
- general food (no socks or insects).
- not alive (it’s quite scary to eat living unknown things in a hot-pot)
- not liquid or meltable (no soup or chocolates because they will spoil the original soup)
- not harmful for health (no super spicy ingredients)
If you are a risk-taker and want to experience a more authentic 闇鍋, there is one famous rule that would make the event more enjoyable:
- Put ingredients into a hot-pot and eat them in a dark room so that nobody can tell who puts what into the pot and what they are eating.
Note that if you adopt this rule, you’re supposed to eat whatever you pick from the pot; the reaction when one eats unknown food is the most important thing in this extreme 闇鍋 event. You should also forbid participants to bring raw ingredients since you cannot be sure whether the ingredients are well-boiled.
Lastly but most importantly, keep in mind that you should not leave any food in 闇鍋 because that is very mottainai.
闇鍋 consists of the two kanji characters “闇” and “鍋“. The former means “dark“, and the latter means “hot pot“. Therefore, literally 闇鍋 means “dark hot-pot”, and figuratively describes a hot-pot dish with unknown ingredients.
Sometimes, 闇鍋 is used figuratively as “闇鍋状態” to describe something chaotic that is composed of a variety of random stuff. Here, the last two characters “状態” mean “situation” or “state“. For instance, you can say 闇鍋状態 if you follow a variety of accounts from different categories on Twitter, such as the ones of your friends, famous athletes, news media, and fashion brands. You may also use this word when you cook something by putting remnants in the fridge.
I did 闇鍋 yesterday, and the smell was awful
This folder is full of unrelated files and 闇鍋状態 (chaotic; full of random files)
Synonyms in English: a hot-pot dish with a mishmash of ingredients.
Related words and phrases: 闇 (dark), 鍋 (hot-pot; hot-pot dish), 闇鍋状態 (chaotic)