Plus, find out what it takes to register a special day like this in Japan.

When you lead busy lives like us, you might not have the time to make curry like a Japanese mother, and that’s where super-fast retort curry packs come to the rescue.

These convenient pre-made curries are sold in pouches that just need to be popped in boiling water for a while to heat them before you eat them, making them a quick and easy way to satiate those curry cravings.

We’ve been fans of these heat-and-eat curries for a long time, so when we heard that 2 March was Regional Retort Curry Day, our ears immediately perked up.

Then, when we found out that the special day had been established by the “Regional Retort Curry Association“, we became even more interested in the celebrations, because we know the people who run that association, and you do too.

▼ They’re Mr and Mrs Inomata, the owners of Curry Land in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighbourhood.

You might recall our former visits to Curry Land, the specialty store that sells all sorts of unusual retort curries sourced from different regions around the country, where the friendly owners always gave us great recommendations to try.

It’d been a while since our last visit, so we decided to head down to the store to wish the owners a happy Regional Retort Curry Day…and find out more about how it came about.

When we arrived, Mrs Inomata was there to greet us, and upon wishing her a happy Regional Retort Curry Day, we asked her if it was true that she and her husband had established that day.

“Yes, we did.”

Japan has a lot of special days on the calendar, like Mayonnaise Day, Beckoning Cat Day, and even Condom Day, but we’d never met anyone who’d actually established one of these special days before.

As diehard retort curry fans, we felt honoured to be in the presence of such enterprising individuals, who were working hard to bring recognition to not just retort curries, but regional retort curries. So we asked Mr Inomata why they picked 2 March to be Regional Retort Curry Day.

He said:

“Retort Curry Day falls on the release date of ‘Bon Curry’ [Japan’s first-ever retort curry] but there’s no history of the first-ever regional retort curry, so we decided to space it evenly after Curry Day on 22 January, Retort Curry Day on 12 February, and then Retort Curry Day on 2 March.”

As for why they decided to establish the day, they said:

“I think that the purpose of retort curries are different from those of regional retort curries. In contrast to retort curries, which are all about ease and convenience, regional retort curries are based on thinking about the area. I thought it would be easy to understand it as a separate genre of its own if we created an anniversary day for it.”

As it turns out, the procedure for establishing an anniversary day in Japan is pretty straightforward. Mr Inomata told us:

“You have to write your purpose out on one A4-sized sheet and submit it to the Japan Anniversary Association. Once certified, a registration certificate will be sent.”

▼ The Regional Retort Curry Day registration certificate is displayed in the office at Curry Land.

While the registration process is simple enough for anyone to complete, the high costs can be a hurdle, as Mr Inomata explained:

“It costs a lot of money. There’s no renewal fee, but I think that the registration fee was about 100,000 yen (US$864) when we did it. The details are on the Anniversary Association site, and now the registration fee is 150,000 yen. It seems to be 250,000 yen when registering two anniversary days, and 300,000 yen for three days — it goes up by 50,000 yen for every extra day you register above that.”

So the more days you register with the association, the cheaper each one is. While the initial fee is pretty high, we guess it has to be to stop everyone and their dog from registering days left, right and centre.

It’s pretty good that you don’t have to pay a renewal fee every year, though, as the one-off registration ensures you get to celebrate your special day year after year. So after we left Curry Land, we started wondering what day we might register if we had some extra cash lying about. SoraNews24 Day?

Before we left, though, we asked the Inomatas for their current curry recommendations, taking the following three unique curries home to cook up in honour of Regional Retort Curry Day.

Yakushima Fish Curry (1,200 yen [$10.37])

Hailing from Yakushima, the island that inspired the Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke, this regional curry contains coconut milk and chunks of grilled flying fish. It was a soup-style medium-hot curry that was absolutely delicious and one we highly recommend trying.

Oita Parsley Curry (880 yen)

This unusual offering from Oita Prefecture contains so much parsley it gives the curry a deep, dark hue. While it looked like it might impart a strong flavour, it was actually quite mild and deliciously easy to eat.

▼ Koi Curry (850 yen)

“Koi” means “carp”, and that’s exactly what this one contains. Being a bottom feeder, wild carp can sometimes have a bit of a muddy flavour, but the carp used in this curry, which hails from Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, are grown in clean waters, giving them a much brighter taste. There was no muddy flavour in this medium-hot curry — it was a hearty, delicious meal.

All three curries were fantastic, and a cut above the normal ones you get at the supermarket, as they’ve all been carefully made with quality ingredients.

If we had to pick a favourite, it would have to be the Yakushima Fish Curry, as the balance between the creamy mouthfeel, the taste of grilled flying fish, and the spiciness in the finish was fantastic.

After dipping our spoon into the word of regional retort curries again, we were reminded of just how good they are, and how deserving they are of a special day on the calendar separate from all the other curry days.

So don’t forget to mark your calendars for Regional Retort Curry Day on 2 March 2023. That gives us all just enough time to save up for this retort pouch gadget that lets you toast your pouches instead of boiling them!

Store information
Curry Land / カレーランド
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Nishi Asakusa 2-24-7
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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