Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: August 5, 2021 at 4:31 PHT (GMT+8)
A uniquely designed plate in Unnan, Shimane Prefecture is selling out due to the fun experience it lends to eating curry.
The plate accurately recreates the structure of Obara Dam, complete with flood gates to let through sluices of sauce instead of water. Administrative Director Yuri Tagawa of the local non-profit Sakura-Orochi says they hope the customers will enjoy letting the curry flow through.
Tagawa commissioned a ceramic artist to produce the plates to celebrate the opening of the dam’s new gate in March 2020. Although other curry plates with similar styles exist, the goal of this version was to recreate the Obara Dam’s crest gates.
About Obara Dam
Obara Dam was completed in 2012 and is located on the upper reaches of the class-A Hiikawa River, which is the setting for the legend of Yamata no Orochi, the eight-headed and eight-tailed dragon. The dam stands 90 meters tall and has a reservoir capacity of 60.8 million cubic meters — the most in the prefecture. The dam also fulfills roles in flood control and supplying drinking water.
The emergency-use crest gate water gates at the top of the dam, each measuring 11.5 meters wide and 14 meters tall, are open to the public every March during maintenance checks, when they are opened to release water. Many dam fans and families gather to see water descend the about 50-meter drop with great force.
Although 2020’s dam viewing was canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus, the plates gained attention for their detail, and all 16 plates prepared sold out. Because they are handmade, they cannot be produced in large quantities. However, Tagawa said the products have been so popular that they have “even had inquiries from outside the prefecture.”
The latest plates have also been improved to better imitate the dam’s sluice of water coming down by making the bottom of the part where the curry sauce is poured 8 millimeters higher, giving it a slightly steeper slope.
The initial plan was for the Okuizumo Tourism Association to sell the plates inside JR Izumo-Minari Station in the prefectural town of Okuizumo, but demand for the plates is so high that they are now waiting for the next batch instead.
This summer, Sakura-Orochi has 21 new plates in stock. They come in three sizes; the large ones measure about 21.5 centimeters and cost 1,800 yen (approximately 16 USD), the medium ones are around 20 cm and sell for 1,500 yen (approximately 14 USD), and the small ones are around 18 cm and cost 1,200 yen (approximately 11 USD).
Tagawa said, “There are many things making people anxious during the coronavirus crisis, but we hope that the curry plates can inspire slightly happier conversations.”