Design Explained –
Our Signature Tune!

Our rice cookers and water boilers are practical. They’re technologically advanced. They’re stylish. And they’re…whimsical!

Until 1999, our appliances used standard beep sounds to indicate when the rice cooker or water boiler had started and finished their settings. We realized that so many appliances existed together in our customers’ kitchens that it was difficult to know which appliance was beeping. So, as part of our tradition of smart design, we programmed our rice cookers and water boilers to play a tune instead of beeping.

Zojirushi Rice Cooker Circa 1999

And now we’re known for our whimsical, musical and oh-so-familiar “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” tune which plays at the beginning of a setting. And when a course is finished, the lyrical tune of “Amaryllis” plays!

 

While this feature is definitely one of our more lighthearted and fun ones, there is a solid technological foundation to adding tunes to our appliances. Each appliance needed a microcomputer in the control panel, and that technology was introduced in the late 1990s. Further, microcomputers needed to be programmable, and the manufacturers were able to sequence a series of beeps to make a tune.

We loved it then and we love it now. And so do our fun friends. Just check out this incredibly cute video on our Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/p/BwNkZ1eh7NR/.

Let us know if you love these songs, too! And if you have a suggestion for a future product!

Design Explained –
Our Half-Circle

Have you seen our half-circle?

It’s subtle. It’s small. It’s white. And it’s an ingenious feature that indicates whether the removable control plugs for our electric grills and griddles are inserted into the appliance properly.

While our rice cookers, water boilers and other electric products are controlled by onboard LCD panels and powered using power cords, our Gourmet Sizzler® electric griddles and indoor electric grills use a removable control plug that serves both functions: to provide power to the appliance and to manage the temperature setting. These high-powered control plugs conduct electricity efficiently to the appliances, allowing them to heat quickly at the temperature set using the control knob.

The control plugs are installed into the sides of the grills and griddles and “click” into place. On the release buttons located at the sides of the control plugs are white half-circles. And while they look cool, they actually serve as a safety feature. When the control plug is installed correctly into the appliance, the entire white area of the half-circle becomes visible. If it hasn’t clicked correctly into place, the half-circle is obscured.

Such a small smart design feature makes a big difference in safety. Zojirushi’s indoor grills and electric griddles are designed so they do not turn on unless all components are installed correctly. The drip tray not set properly? The control plug won’t go in. The control plug not inserted correctly or loose? Power won’t turn on. This way, no one gets burned or hurt by a heated, but improperly setup appliance.

You can see the white half-circle in action for our griddles at https://youtu.be/vOPPBUhBJ4g and https://youtu.be/tLQABng_ck8.

Have you noticed any other hidden smart design features in our products? Let us know below!

Design Explained –
Our Original Vacuum Glass Liners

Last year, we celebrated our centennial anniversary as a company, and with you as our customers, we’ve come so far. Founded in 1918 in Osaka, Japan, our company was founded as the Ichikawa Brothers Trading Company, producing vacuum insulated glass liners for carafes. These glass liners were state-of-the-art in 1918, and remain a proven, innovative technology along with our more modern rice cookers, small appliances and vacuum insulated stainless steel products.

Blowing glass by hand

Glass is a surprising material. We encounter it every day in our drinking vessels, windows, jewelry, art and so on. It seems so commonplace but it’s actually a marvel of science and engineering. In its basic form, glass is made by combining silica – one of the most abundant materials on Earth – with other elements in order to produce a material with unique thermal, optical, chemical, mechanical and electrical properties.

Our vacuum glass liners in the Air Pot® dispensers and carafes are made using medical-grade borosilicate glass. Borosilicate glass is made by adding boric oxide, a form of the element boron. Because of it’s unique chemical composition, borosilicate glass is more resistant to thermal shock than regular soda-lime glass, meaning that it won’t shatter or crack when exposed to sudden temperature change. It’s also clear, moldable and easily cleanable, making it an ideal material for glass liners.

Carafe with a glass liner

To make these glass liners, we first create an outer vessel in the shape and size of the carafe or dispenser, then make an inner vessel, which is placed inside the outer vessel. We then coat the interior of the vacuum wall between the two vessels with silver plating to give it heat reflecting properties. Finally the air between the two vessels is removed to create vacuum insulation, which maintains the temperature of the contents of the inner vessel.

Vacuum Glass Liner

Words don’t do the process justice, so check out our video of how our glass liners are made in our factory in Osaka, Japan.

It’s no wonder that we’ve been obsessed with glass liners for a hundred years. We are proud to manufacture quality products for our customers, using this innovative and wonderful material.

Share your favorite Zojirushi product with us, and let us know if you have one of vacuum insulated glass liner products!

Design Explained –
Our Innovative Lids

It’s summer time and we always have one of our vacuum insulated mugs on hand. Water, iced tea, hot beverages…no matter what, our stainless mugs are designed to let you carry your favorite beverage in style.

Over the years, we’ve listened to your feedback, and incorporated four smart design features into the lids we use for our stainless mugs: the two-step release and the safety lock in the flip-open mugs, the covered sipping area and the disassembling parts for all mugs.

Step 1

Flip-open lids are super convenient. They’re great in any situation where one-handed operation is required, such as when traveling. The two-step release in our flip-open lids works by allowing the lid open in 2-steps. The first step happens when you push and hold the open button. The open button hooks onto the lid and prevents it from opening, and at the same time, allowing condensation on the lid to flow back into the mug. When you release the button as the second step, the spring at the hinge of the lid will allow the lid to spring open, and because of the first step, wont’ fling any condensation at your friend while doing so. As long as nothing is impeding the back of the lid, the lid will open all the way and stay in place, making it easy to drink without getting bumped in the face by a wobbly lid.

Step 2

The smart safety lock feature of the flip-open lids ensures that the lid doesn’t accidentally open in a bag or purse, causing leaks and spills.

Safety Lock

Along with these great features, both the flip-open and twist-open lids are designed to keep the sipping area clean by keeping it covered when you’re not taking a sip, so you don’t have to worry about getting sand on the sip area if it tips over at the beach. . Perfect for summer beach days!

Clean sipping area!

And finally, the disassembling parts of our lids, whether flip-open or twist-open, mean the lids can be thoroughly cleaned. It’s the worst to find that you’ve been cleaning the lids of other bottles and yet there is still dirt, or worse, mold, inside the components. Each piece is washable and gaskets allow the re-assembled lid to fit tightly and securely.

Disassembling lid of SM-TAE48SA

Disassembling lid of SM-NAE48SA

Each of these features make our stainless mugs stylish and functional…all part of our commitment to smart design. Let us know which mug you have and how you like the lids in the comments below!

Design Explained –
Micom Intelligence

“Inspirations from everyday life” is at the core of our business. And for the large majority of Japanese, cooking rice is at the center of their daily activities, a task that involves sourcing, washing, soaking, cooking, steaming, fluffing and serving short-grained, perfectly cooked Japanese rice.

We’ve created an amazing line up of rice cookers to help with this everyday task, and this month in our Design Explained series, we talk about the benefits of our Micom rice cookers.

First of all, what is a rice cooker? A rice cooker is an electric machine that automates parts of the process for cooking rice. Traditionally, rice has been cooked in a pot, with water, over a flame. With a rice cooker, the steps that convert the hard rice kernel into a fluffy, edible staple is automated. Conventional rice cookers, which are the most basic type of rice cookers, simply boil rice, managing turning off when there is no water left in the pot. Our Micom rice cookers, however, automate soaking, cooking and steaming. Our Micom rice cooker that include induction heating and a combination of induction heating and pressure apply additional technologies to prepare perfect rice.

But what really is Micom and how does it work?

Micom is an abbreviation of “microcomputer”, meaning that a microcomputer is built into the rice cooker to control the rice cooking process.

The microcomputer, in this instance, works to automate as much of the cooking process as possible, so that only washing before and fluffing after are manual tasks. With a conventional rice cooker, the cook would have to manage washing the rice, the soaking time, monitor how it steams after boiling, and fluff prior to serving as well. In fact, there is a Japanese saying that explains the benefit of the microcomputer’s work:

Hajime choro-choro Naka pa-ppa Akago naite mo Futa toruna!” meaning “At first it bubbles, and then it hisses. Even if the baby cries, don’t open the lid!” It’s so much easier to let the Micom rice cooker do the work, and better yet, do it on a timer, so that it’s done in one efficient shot.

Our Micom rice cookers also create ideal cooking environments for various types of rice and rice dishes. For example, many of our rice cookers have a setting for sushi rice, which the microcomputer knows to cook for a specific time and at a specific temperature so that it cooks to the required firmness. Some of our rice cookers also have a setting for GABA Brown Rice, which adjusts the soaking time and temperature to increase GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in brown rice. And they have a setting for porridge, which ensures that the extra water needed to make the soupy rice doesn’t boil over.

Which Zojirushi rice cooker do you have? And have you made the two main staples of Japanese cuisine – White Rice and Brown Rice – following our recipes? Let us know in the comments below!