The Voices of Zojirushi – Amy, Social Media Manager!

We have a wonderful treat this month – a chance to get to know Amy, Zojirushi’s Social Media Manager!

Amy started at Zojirushi as a Customer Service Representative and then became part of the Marketing Team managing the Zojirushi social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Amy’s multifaceted passion for connecting with Zojirushi customers and fans is just one of reasons we’re excited to share her with you!

Amy, you’ve been with Zojirushi for a while now, and have a unique perspective about the products, customers and company goals. What do you see as Zojirushi’s corporate values and how do you believe they’re embody in the products and services?

It’s all about dedication to the customer experience. We know you can’t see it, but Zojirushi products are R&D’d to within an inch of their lives! Our commitment to creating innovative products manufactured to the highest standards is our lifeblood. We are always striving to exceed the expectations of our customers, because we want Zojirushi products to be a reliable part of their owners’ lives. We think that the quality of the products produced by this madness is evident. It’s always a pleasure when customers tell us they are still happily using a rice cooker or breadmaker we produced in the 80s!

There’s still a lot of these breadmakers kicking around!

How do you see your position at Zojirushi create a better quality of life for our customers, which is part of Zojirushi’s mission?

The Zojirushi experience doesn’t end when the customer exits the retailer’s door. Our social media presence is an opportunity for us to continue educating the customer about the product, and supply fun and useful things like recipes that let them find new ways to enjoy it. It’s also an invaluable tool for connecting with customers, because reaching out to us is so easy and instant—no phone call required.

Our corporate tagline is Inspirations from Everyday Life. How do you believe Zojirushi products inspire customers?

Just ask our customers and Zojirushi evangelists! The quality and functionality of our products inspire fans—we’ve heard many times that customers feel like they’ve stumbled upon something really unique and different, and they love to share that discovery with others. Not all customers find our brand the same way; for instance, someone who purchases and loves our Stainless Mug may not know that we also manufacture world-class rice cookers. But because our commitment to manufacturing products only at the highest standards, customers know that no matter what they’re eyeballing in our catalog, it will be made and function with Zojirushi quality.

Beef tataki

You must have been inspired by something yourself to feel so passionate about Zojirushi! Was it a trip to Japan or something about Japanese food or culture that you love?

I’ve been to Japan twice, once when I was 18 for a month-and-a-half to participate in a Japanese language-learning program, and once last year for a handful of days to visit Zojirushi Corporation headquarters in Osaka, where I had the opportunity to tour the factory and learn a little more about how our water boilers and rice cookers are assembled. The most interesting experience I have had while in Japan was visiting the onsen (hot springs) in Odaiba, because communal bathing is not a typical American experience. As for food, I love all types of Japanese food—sushi, ramen, soba, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, sukiyaki, yakitori, gyudon… neatly individually-wrapped portions of various wagashi—but there’s something about really fresh, perfectly seared cold beef tataki served with a bright and refreshing citrus sauce that always hits the spot. (Shout out to izakaya-style restaurant Kappo Honda in Fountain Valley, CA, whose beef tataki is on point!)

If you could tell people one great thing about Zojirushi, what would it be?

We are a relatively small company, and the ties between employees are close. Many employees have been with Zojirushi America since we opened our office here in 1987 (or maybe even before then) and have shared a lot of history together. Our company president, Mr. Yamasaki, is right up the hall—if an employee wants to chat with him, he’s available to listen. Our staff is also a diverse one that speaks many languages—Japanese and English, of course, but also Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese—and boasts a variety of personalities. Zojirushi America is full of incredible people, and it’s a big part of what makes working here a pleasure.

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We love working with Amy, and we hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know her this month. Stay tuned for our next Voice of Zojirushi!

Product Inspirations – Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-NVC10/18)

We are inspired every month by innovations that you, our fans, share with us. You inspire us to create small appliances that bring ease, convenience, versatility and style to your kitchen. And that ultimately help you cook delicious foods, simply and easily. It’s with these beliefs that we’ve created the Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-NVC10/18)–our flagship rice cooker.

This rice cooker is engineered to cook perfect rice, every time. The advanced fuzzy logic with artificial intelligence technology used in this rice cooker “learns” from prior cooking experiences and makes minute adjustments to each batch of rice, so that it is cooked perfectly, every time. The microcomputer that controls the rice cooker also manages the multiple varied settings, which are accessed from the large, easy-to-read LCD panel. White rice can be cooked regular, harder or softer, and the rice cooker also has menu settings such as umami, mixed rice, sushi or sweet rice, porridge, brown rice, GABA brown rice as well as rinse-free and quick cooking. Exclusive to this model are the steam-reduce and scorch settings. The steam-reduce setting minimizes the amount of steam emitted from the rice cooker, so surrounding cabinets are protected, and the scorch setting scorches the bottom of the rice for a crunchy texture.

Pressurized cooking is a key feature in this rice cooker, as applying pressure during cooking converts the rigid beta starch in rice into alpha starch, which makes the rice sweeter, softer and easier to digest. Sushi rice, which needs to be harder in texture, is cooked at the same atmospheric pressure as sea level, while white rice and brown rice are cooked at higher pressures, which gives them a soft yet chewy consistency. No matter what type of rice you use, this machine selects from three pressure levels according to the menu selected–automatically!

The induction heating technology used in this pan creates instant and precise heat. The inner pan is heated, not the inside of the machine, so that cooking temperature is concentrated where the rice is. The inner pan is made with a platinum infused nonstick coating, making the water used to cook the rice more alkaline, enhancing the natural sweetness of the rice. Clear, bright markings make it easy to measure in the right amount of rice and water and the entire pan is easy to clean with mild dish detergent and warm water. And the stainless steel inner lid can be detached and easily cleaned in the same manner.

This machine uses the same great convenience features that our other rice cookers do: namely, the ability to select your favorite sound signal–a beep, a melody or silence–as well as Keep Warm, Extended Keep Warm, Reheat and Timer functions.

This rice cooker’s exterior is just as beautiful as the interior, featuring a clear coated stainless steel which coordinates any kitchen décor. It is available in 5.5 cup and 10 cup sizes.

Our top-of-the-line rice cooker is the ideal rice cooker for preparing a variety of dishes this season. Green Tea Rice is always a refreshing rice to serve with dishes like ginger pork and teriyaki yellow tail. Brown Rice and Black Bean Crisps are filling, look beautiful and are naturally gluten-free. And our delectable Deconstructed California Roll features sushi rice paired with crab meat, avocados, cucumbers and nori seaweed.

The rice cooker comes with a rice spatula, spatula holder and measuring cup.

No matter what you make, we know you’ll love our rice cooker as much as we do. Leave us a comment about your best experience and as always, be sure to share your favorite recipes with us!

A Food Lover’s Tour of Japan – Eating Tenmusu in Aichi

This month, we continue our Food Lover’s Tour by exploring Aichi Prefecture!

Aichi Prefecture is located in central Japan and is blessed with a natural landscape including a mountainous area full of lumber and rivers, the flat Nobi Plain rich with fertile agricultural land and the abundant fishing waters of Ise Bay, Chita Bay, Mikawa Bay and Atsumi Bay.

This naturally plentiful environment has led to the growth of many industries in Aichi Prefecture, and the third largest city of Nagoya, is strategically located between Tokyo and Osaka. In ancient times, Nagoya was controlled by the Tokugawa Clan, who built one of the most noted castles in Japan, and fostered native industries. Commerce was, and is, one of the largest activities in Aichi Prefecture, bringing many influences from different parts of Japan as well as other countries. Today, Aichi Prefecture is famous for ceramics, textiles and Toyota’s automotive manufacturing.

Nagoya castle nestled trees, surrounded by the sprawl of Nagoya

Nagoya is the largest city in Aichi Prefecture, and is famous for this month’s special food: tenmusu. Tenmusu are rice balls stuffed with shrimp tempura that has been soaked in a savory sauce and then wrapped in sheets of nori seaweed. Tenmusu, comes from two words–tempura and omusubi–and brings both delicious items together in a wonderful dish.

Tenmusu has a colorful history! It is associated with Nagoya, but it was originally developed in the city of Tsu, in the Mie Prefecture across Ise Bay. In the 1930s, a woman named Mrs. Mizutani owned a tempura set-meal restaurant called Senju in Tsu City. Legend has it that on a busy day, Mrs. Mizutani didn’t have enough time to prepare lunch for her husband, and gave him rice balls with cut pieces of shrimp tempura hidden inside. Her husband must have enjoyed it, because 20 years later, the shrimp tempura rice balls were being served not only to her husband but to restaurant employees as well. Patrons soon discovered the dish, and asked for it from the restaurant’s secret menu, until Mrs. Mizutani perfected her recipe and began offering it on the formal menu, where a woman named Mrs. Fujimori, who was on vacation from Nagoya, ordered it and loved it.

Fifty years later, in 1980, the depressed economy in Nagoya led Mr. Fujimori, the patron’s husband, to close his watch shop. Mrs. Fujimori began exploring ways to support her family, and thought to sell the tenmusu that she loved from Mrs. Mizutani’s restaurant as a new item in Nagoya. She visited Mrs. Mizutani, and was rejected. She kept coming back, and was rejected. And she was persistent, even staying with Mrs. Mizutani, and finally gained her friendship. Through her persistence, friendship and negotiation, Mrs. Mizutani taught her the recipe and allowed her to open a branch of Senju in Nagoya.

Tenmusu was unknown in Nagoya, but after all that Mrs. Fujimori had gone through, she began a marketing campaign that gained her much publicity, and tenmusu became famous as a Nagoya specialty!

Tenmusu shop (photo by m-louis)

Both the Tsu City and Nagoya restaurants are still in existence, and you can see a sign that says “ORIGINAL” outside of the shop in Tsu City.

We love tenmusu at Zojirushi, too, and our recipe is as tasty as the ones from the original shop!

The best part about tenmusu is eating it in and around Nagoya. While trying out new foods may be one of the most interesting things to do in Aichi Prefecture, we know you’ll also love visiting the many spectacular attractions in the area, including the Mikawa Bay Quasi-National Park, the 1,900 year old Atsuta Jingu Shrine, Inuyama Castle and the Minamichita Hot Springs Resort. If you’re fortunate enough to be in Aichi Prefecture in winter, don’t miss the Hadaka Matsuri or “naked festival”… it’s a 1,200 year old tradition!

We hope you love Aichi Prefecture as much as we do, and as always, try making tenmusu and tell us how it went!

A Food Lover’s Tour of Japan – Maki Sushi in Chiba

We’re so excited that winter will end soon and our third location on our Food Lover’s Tour of Japan is the perfect place to enjoy the upcoming beauty of spring… Chiba!

Chiba Prefecture is located in the southeast part of Kanto Region of Japan, a large, fertile plain that is unique in a country predominantly defined by mountains.  Some part of it is also situated on the Boso-hanto Peninsula, with Tokyo Bay on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the east. This peninsula is sheltered and temperate, even during the cold months of winter, and has been densely populated for centuries due to its climate, fertile farmland, rich fishing zones and famous floriculture.

Chiba’s signature dish is futomaki sushi… and as we learn more about this beautiful area of Japan, you’ll understand why this dish is such a great characterization of this region.

On the west coast of the prefecture, situated alongside Tokyo Bay and within commuting distance of Tokyo, you’ll find Chiba City. Chiba City is the governmental and business hub of the prefecture, home to one of Asia’s biggest convention centers, the Makuhari Messe, and to the Chiba Lotte Marines baseball team. Many businesses and shops are in the city, and for leisure activities, locals and visitors both appreciate the cute port area called Chiba Port Park, where they can enjoy the beach, viewing tower, boat rides and cycling.

Not far from Chiba City, to the northeast, is Narita. Many of us know Narita as gateway to Japan, since this city is the location of Narita International Airport. But Narita is also a great spot to experience traditional Japanese culture. The famous Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple attracts over 13 million visitors a year and has been a time-honored place of worship since 940 AD. During the spring, one of the largest drum festivals is held in Narita. 200 drummers participate and the thunder of their drumming can be heard throughout the city! Early summer is time for the Narita Gion Matsuri, where the Shinto object of worship from the temple is paraded around the city along with floats.

Tulips bloom in Chiba

History also abounds in the neighboring cities of Sawara and Sakura City. In these cities, visitors come to experience the atmosphere of Edo period through well-preserved architecture, shops, homes, samurai residences and classic streets. The National Museum of Japanese History, Chiba Prefectural Boso-no-Mura Museum and the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences are well-worth the visit.

The beaches in this prefecture are stunning. Kujukuri Beach, along the Pacific Ocean, is 41 miles long with a long straight coastline without reefs. It extends from Cape Gyobu in Iioka Town to Cape Daito in Misaki Town and is a pristine area for swimming, surfing, water sports and sport fishing. At the north end of the beach is Cape Inubo-saki, a raised marine abrasion where dramatic cliffs, rough waves and blasts of wind contrast strongly with the more serene beach towards the south. There is a lighthouse at the cape, where if you go up to the observation deck to view the panorama of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll be able to see the curvature of the Earth and if you’re lucky, dolphins! Not far from the cape, the Byobu-ga-ura Cliffs rise 131-164 feet high, and are fondly called the Dover of the Orient, due to their sparkling white façade.

Because of Chiba Prefecture’s temperate climate, flowers grow abundantly throughout the peninsula. The natural landscape and rich flora inspires Chiba’s signature dish: futomaki sushi. Chiba Prefecture’s futomaki sushi are artfully crafted, thick sushi rolls, made with colorful vegetables, rice decorated with food dyes, eggs and seafood. The traditional rolling techniques, learned in from a young age, and designs unique to each family, result in patterns that show through the cross-cuts made in the rolls when they’re sliced. Flowers in the shape of ume blossoms and roses are common motifs, but the variety of designs is as endless as the number of families rolling the sushi.

Futomaki sushi is thicker than basic maki sushi, or sushi roll. While futomaki sushi is traditionally made for special occasions, people enjoy simpler maki sushi throughout the year. Just like futomaki suhi, maki sushi can be made with fresh, colorful fillings, such as tamago (sweetened omelet), carrots, gourd, mitsuba, shiitake mushrooms, pickled ginger, shiso leaves, cucumber, eel, shrimp and tuna. Whether or not the rolling technique results in a patterned design, the ingredients are balanced so that no one flavor overpowers the other.

Making Chiba Prefecture’s futomaki sushi is an art practiced over years, so preparing simpler maki sushi is a great way to get started. Try out our recipe for a basic maki sushi and as always, let us know about your travels to Chiba and your adventures in rolling sushi!

A Food Lover’s Tour of Japan – Mizutaki in Fukuoka

Did you make yudofu last month? Wasn’t it perfect for a cold January?

This month, we’re excited to feature Fukuoka, Japan’s sixth largest city, and home to mizutaki.

As foodies and travelers, we love the cuisines, cultures and special areas of Japan. This month, as part of our new series, A Food Lover’s Tour of Japan, we explore the city of Fukuoka, its history, culture, natural surroundings and famous mizutaki.

City of Fukuoka, as it’s known today, was the result of the merging of two historic towns, Fukuoka and Hakata. Fukuoka was the feudal castle area of the Kuroda family, on the west bank of the Nakagawa River, and Hakata was the ancient center for international trade with Korea and China situated on the east bank. The city of Hakata eventually got destroyed because of a battle in 1569, and in the early 17th century Fukuoka began to emerge to Hakata resulting in the merged city of Fukuoka which was officially inaugurated in 1889.

The Fukuoka city scape above blossoming cherry trees

Today, Fukuoka prefecture is a major metropolis and cultural center, often known as the gateway to Kyushu, where one can see the historic sights of Nagasaki, experience the volcanic activity at the Aso Caldera, enjoy Japan’s best surfing along the Nichinan Coast, relax at onsen hot springs, and learn ceramic arts from Saga’s three legendary pottery centers. Fukuoka sits in the northwestern part of Kyushu and faces three straits—the Sea of Suo to the northeast, the Sea of Genkai to the northwest and the Sea of Ariake to the southwest–that border Continental Asia.

The spirit of the two original towns that make up Fukuoka still influence the character of the city today. Fukuoka City, which is often known locally by its ancient name of Hakata, is the main urban area of Fukuoka Prefecture. Within the prefecture are smaller cities and scenic areas that are worth a visit, including Dazaifu, the location of the Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, where students seek blessings for academic achievement. The shrine is also famous for the countless varieties of red and white plum trees and irises. Kitakyushu, another city in Fukuoka, is a unique blend of medieval and modern industry. The Senbutsu limestone cave is a scenic spot in Kitakyusyu and is full of stalagmites and stone pillars. Many interesting museums can be found in Kitakyushu. Western Fukuoka prefecture is lush with azaleas and many old temples and shrines, including some that are dedicated to water deities and to the goddesses of fertility and easy childbirth. The southern part of the prefecture is an idyllic place to relax in the hot springs and onsen spas.

The Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine

While a visit to the prefecture is sure to provide varied experiences, Fukuoka City itself is teeming with things to do. The city center, or Hakata District, is home to the business area of Fukuoka, as well as to the Kushida-jinja Shrine, which hosts one of the main summer festivals held in the city. The riverfronts in the city are always bustling, especially in the Nakasu / Tenjin areas. Approximately 3,500 restaurants and food stalls can be found in Nakasu and Tenjin thrives with fashionable shops and department stores. You can even catch a baseball game at Fukuoka Dome along the main waterfront area! And if you’re looking for time in nature, the Kashii / Shikanoshima Island areas along the coast offer history, views, water and serenity.

Fukuoka’s incredibly diverse international influences show up in its food, just as much as its culture. Mizutaki originated in Fukuoka, and means “water stew”. It’s a deceptively simple dish that was inspired by European consommé and chicken dishes from China. To make mizutaki, chicken, which is consumed more in Fukuoka than any other place in Japan, is boiled along with vegetables in a kelp-based broth, without any other seasonings. Once the chicken and cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, mushrooms and green onions are cooked, each person then take the ingredients in individual bowls and eat with tangy ponzu sauce. Rice can be added to the leftover broth, cooked and eaten as a savory soup or porridge. Two dishes in one!

Try out our recipe for Mizutaki, which you can easily make in our Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50) and let us know how you like it!

And don’t forget to share your Fukuoka stories with us below.