Zojirushi Blog

A Journey Through Time: The Evolution of Unique Carafes at Zojirushi

Glass table with an Air Pot from the rattan line with two cups of tea next to it

As we dive into the rich history of Zojirushi, we uncover the innovative spirit and dedication to quality that has defined our brand for decades. Among our diverse range of products, our carafes stand out for their unique materials and design, reflecting our customers’ evolving tastes and needs.

Join us as we take a nostalgic journey, looking back at some of the most distinctive carafes that have shaped our brand. From the luxurious copper pot to the practical and durable stainless steel carafe, these carafes became the blueprint for our commitment to innovation.

The Copper Pot Carafe: A Gleaming Gem from 1979

Copper carafe with hammered dimple design with a wooden handle. A black box with copper embossed writing.

In 1979, amidst the rising popularity of copper products, Zojirushi introduced a hammered copper carafe that quickly became a sought-after high-end gift item. Its deep sepia shine, complemented by natural wood accents on the handle and stopper, captured the essence of both traditional elegance and modern simplicity. This carafe was not just a vessel for beverages; it was a piece of art that appealed to young and old alike. The inner glass liner, tinted to match the exterior copper color as well as the uniquely Zojirushi spout cover feature, underscored our commitment to beauty, functionality, and attention to detail.

The Rattan Series: Embracing Nature in Design

Clipping of a product catalog showcasing a rattan covered product line of carafes and vacuum insualted products

Fast forward to 1986, and the introduction of the Rattan Series marked a new chapter in our design journey. These carafes, air pots, and even an ice pail wrapped in natural rattan, resonated with nature-oriented consumers looking for authentic, eco-friendly products. Offered in different sizes, these fan-favorite items show the ingenuity of Zojirushi’s quest for craftsmanship. Popular in the spring and summer for their cool and organic feel, these items also excelled at maintaining the temperature of cold beverages, proving that style and substance could coexist harmoniously. Today, you can still see the enduring popularity of the Rattan Series on social media as a testament to the lasting appeal of these designs.

Clipping of catalog from 1980s with a stainless steel carafes with different color trimming

The late 1970s witnessed a revolution in vacuum insulation technology with the introduction of the first stainless steel vacuum bottle—a milestone Zojirushi embraced in 1981 with our own stainless steel vacuum bottle. Shatterproof and lighter than their glass-lined counterparts, these stainless steel bottles represented a leap forward in durability and portability. This innovation paved the way for the creation of a wide array of products, including the first stainless steel carafe by Zojirushi. Ideal for both household and commercial use, the stainless steel carafe became synonymous with convenience and reliability. With its simple easy-to-use functionality and outstanding insulation technology, it became the forerunner to the current Zojirushi products today.

Inspired by Life

From the elegance of the copper pot carafe to the rustic charm of the Rattan Series and the groundbreaking durability of the stainless steel liner, Zojirushi’s journey through carafe materials reflects our ongoing quest to blend aesthetics with functionality. Each material, with its unique properties and design, tells a story of innovation and tradition, underscoring our commitment to have people treasure everyday life with Zojirushi products.

Discover more about Zojirushi’s history and innovative products by exploring our Food & Culture blog. Do you own one of these product or have seen them? Share them with us on Facebook or Instagram.

 

From Then to Now: Celebrating Zojirushi’s Innovative Carafe Designs

Take a stroll down memory lane with us today, all the way back to where Zojirushi’s innovation in thermal carafes began. Thermal carafes—or “Pots” as they are affectionately known in Japan— weren’t just vessels for pouring drinks; they were statements of ingenuity and style that have left a lasting impression. Let’s peek into how these carafes have shaped our warm sips and cool refreshments through the years.

Three vintage carafes lined up in red, green, and white with a package box on the right.

The Clock Pot: Timing Your Brew to Perfection – 1983

Remember the Clock Pot? Launched in 1983, this industry-first carafe with a built-in digital clock was the talk of the town. Using integrated circuit technology (also known as the microchip), we saw the rise of digital clocks that were both durable and affordable and could be incorporated right into the thermal carafes. The Clock Pot had three display options in the digital clock: month/date, hour/minute, and seconds. This stylish carafe met the era’s love for digital with gusto. Available in red, green, and white, it was a chic addition to any space. This kind of clever thinking continues to inspire Zojirushi’s designs today—blending practicality with a touch of fun.

Vintage catalog page in Japanese with a large yellow carafe pouring into instant noodles
The Ramen Pot: Keeping It Hot – 1985

The Ramen Pot had unparalleled heat retention power among 1-liter carafes of its time. This allowed instant foods such as cup noodles to be enjoyed quickly and without hassle. Additionally, this carafe featured a vacuum glass liner, which provides premium heat retention to the carafe’s contents – and this technology is still utilized today in our carafes.

Back then, the ramen pot was lightweight and thus easy to carry. The body of the pot was made of resin, and it was 170g lighter than the standard 1-liter pots of the time. The stable flask-shaped form and pop coloring gave it a casual feel and a very fresh appearance.

Naturally, the heat quality, paired with its small footprint, made it convenient for use in public offices and for coffee. This pot became indispensable for students studying for entrance exams, professionals working late, and those working hard into the night.

In the pursuit of the highest heat retention, Zojirushi developed a new high-neck medium bottle with a smaller mouth and a much longer neck. It exhibited excellent heat retention that exceeded conventional 1-liter carafes in the 80s. Today, this same dedication to maintaining the temperature of your hot foods and chilling your cold drinks persists in our products.

Three carafes in red, blue, and white
The Elephant Pot: Small Pot, Big Personality – 1982

The “Elephant” Pot was a charmer in its day. Tailored for tabletop use at the time of its release, the mainstream air pot was this “elephant style” air pot with a low spout. In 1982, Zojirushi newly developed this popular 1-liter size with increased production in red, blue, and white options. Fast forward to now, and Zojirushi’s products continue to bring that personal touch to your daily routines, offering a variety of choices to fit your unique style.

Our Enduring Craftsmanship

Zojirushi’s commitment to quality has been unwavering. The robust stainless-steel carafes of yesteryears set the stage for the resilient and stylish products we create today. We’re still all about marrying durability with designs you’ll love showing off. Every Zojirushi product is a nod to our past, blending timeless innovation and current trends. Those funky carafes of the past? They’ve evolved into today’s sleek lineup, but the essence remains the same: to make your daily life a little easier and a lot more delightful.

As we reminisce about these iconic thermal carafes, we celebrate the inventive spirit that’s been part of Zojirushi’s DNA from the get-go. Whether it’s the first sip of coffee in the morning or a comforting cup of tea at night, our carafes have been there, and we’re excited to see where they’ll go next.

Got a vintage Zojirushi carafe or a story to share? We’d love to see it and hear it! Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and let’s keep making memories, one cup at a time. #ZojirushiHistory

What Is Rice Really?: The Tradition of Growing Short-Grain Rice

taue

Growing short-grain rice in Japan is critical to feeding the people of the country and feeding the spirit of its traditions. We continue our series from last month about growing short-grain rice with a look at how it is harvested and the traditions that embody the hopes of the Japanese people as they cultivate this important crop.

As we discussed in our previous post, rice is cultivated in four stages: sprouting, planting, growing and harvesting. Once rice is mature, usually at the end of summer, rice fields are allowed to dry in the sun or are drained. Harvesting machines, such as combines, gather and thresh the mature rice, so that rice seeds can be transported to drying facilities. Once at the drying facilities, warm air is forced through the rice to remove moisture so it can be stored and further processed. The dried rice is sent to mills where it is cleaned and dehulled, leaving the nutritious bran layer intact, resulting in brown rice. The brown rice is then packaged and sent to market or further polished to remove the bran layer, resulting in white rice. This short-grain white rice is also packaged and sent to market, where it is purchased by home cooks and chefs alike. By the time the rice reaches a person’s plate, it has been touched by many hands and by many days in the sun, water and wind!

Growing rice is a very important part of Japanese culture, and Japanese people participate in rich traditions that celebrate the entire process from initial planting to the harvest.

During the planting season in spring, the people of Sumiyoshi, in Osaka, believe that an auspicious beginning to the season will help the rice grow. To create a happy atmosphere that fosters good energy for the year’s crop, the community asks eight ceremonial maidens, called ue-me, to sanctify the rice seedlings at the local shrine. These blessed seedlings are given to the shimo ue-me, another group of women who participate in the festival, to plant them in the rice field to begin the season.

This elaborate and beautiful play is a delight to watch:

Planting leads to growing, and growing rice depends on abundant rain, fertile soil and lack of disease and pests. The people of Tsurugashima gather for a tradition called the Suneori Amagoi, during which they supplicate their water-loving snake god for abundant rain to help grow their rice crops. They build a giant decorative snake from bamboo and straw, imbue it with symbolic sacred charms, and parade it through the town to Kandachi Pond, where it is symbolically brought to its sacred home.

…and we mean giant snake:

During the summer months, pests can become a problem in the fields, so the people of Yata celebrate a tradition called Yata-no Mushi Okuri. During this festival, the people build a straw effigy of Saito Sanemori, a warrior from the Taira clan, who became angry when he was defeated in battle and whose grudge was transformed into an insect. They parade this effigy through the rice fields, with the goal of burning it at the end of the procession. The burning effigy is said to attract and kill the insects and pests in the area, and by doing so, release the crop from the warrior’s grudge.

As the summer turns into autumn, and the rice crops mature, rice-growing communities pray for an abundant harvest, giving thanks upon the season’s conclusion, when the land and the people can rest.

While traditions may vary from region to region, each of the seasons at the rice fields are beautiful, and if you’ve traveled to Japan to see them, we’d love to hear your stories.

What is Rice Really?: Growing Short-Grain Rice

terracedricefields

Rice, rice and more rice… we continue our series about What Is Rice Really? after having explored the plant, and short-grain, medium-grain and long-grain rice. Have you tried any of the recipes we’ve suggested yet?

While you were cooking rice, have you ever wondered how it actually gets from its beginnings as a tiny seed to your kitchen?

Growing rice—especially in Japan—is an endeavor both large and small. The careful attention that rice farmers pay to each minute detail of the rice growing process leads to the crop yields that feed the Japanese people. Farmers consider two things as they grow rice:  the plant itself and the environment used to grow it.

tillingtractor

Tilling the rice paddy

Rice farmers care for the rice plant from dormant seed through harvested food. Rice seeds were originally gathered from wild rice plants; however, in modern times, rice seeds are carefully selected and stored from previous harvests, as well as hybridized in cultivation facilities. The type and quality of the seed is hugely important to the type and quality of the yield in any given growing season. Rice seeds are the unhulled, unprocessed grains that are selected from the rice crop during harvest. Good seeds are generally of uniform size, will germinate 80% of the time, are free of pathogens, and produce seedlings that are vigorous.

ricesowing

Seeds can be sown in a rice field in one of two ways: either through transplantation or direct seeding. Transplantation uses pre-germinated seeds that are sprouted in a seedbed comprised of water, nutrients (such as compost) and soil, generally indoors to protect them from contaminants and animals. Once the seeds have sprouted and have established themselves, they are transplanted, either by hand or by using a seeding machine. On the other hand, direct seeding allows farmers to broadcast ungerminated seeds in fields, and let them establish themselves wherever they fall. In larger farms, and especially in Japan, farmers transplant seeds to better ensure a safe and predictable harvest.

Growing rice is only possible when an environment is created that will allow the plants to flourish. Rice farmers are incredibly concerned with the quality of the soil, the quantity and purity of the water, the heat of the sun and protecting the plants from diseases and pests. Managing soil is the first step in rice production. During a Japanese winter, soil lays fallow and is allowed to rest. In the beginning of spring, around the time when cherry blossoms are in full bloom, rice fields or paddies are tilled, which means the soil is dug up, churned, and aerated with straw. Farmers amend the tilled soil with fertilizers, such as compost or nitrogen and potassium, and begin smoothing the rich, loamy land in preparation for drenching with water.

riceharvest

Fall rice harvesting

Water in Japan is a vital resource–from rain, to rivers, to reservoirs–and rice is grown using wet cultivation. In the spring, the smoothed, tilled land is flooded with water to a uniform depth, and then planted with seedlings. Every day, the water level is monitored to ensure that the plants grow with adequate hydration, and that water is flowing with nutrients along flat fields and terraces. The intense heat of the summer months, combined with nutrient-rich soil and plentiful water, helps the rice plants to grow tall and healthy. Along with watching the water levels, farmers look out for insects that seek to consume the plants, weeds that want to overtake the growing areas and diseases that could infect the plants every day. You may have seen images of green rice paddies, but a successful crop grows tall and becomes golden through the summer, until it is ready for harvest in the fall.

Have you ever visited a rice field? We’d love to hear your experiences… and stay tuned for next month’s post about harvesting rice in Japan. The harvest season is an important time throughout Japan, when Japanese people share rich stories, traditions and festivals!

 

What is Rice Really?: Long-Grain Rice

longgrainrice

We continue our series about rice with information and recipes about this staple food by discussing long-grain rice—one of the most well-known types.

As with medium- and short-grain rices, long-grain rice is classified by its size. Grains are slender and usually four or five times longer than they are wide. The grains are 7mm in length or longer, and when cooked, result in separate, loose and soft grains. The majority of long-grain rice is grown in Northern India, Bangladesh, Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, parts of China, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, and Argentina, Brazil and the United States in the Americas. The many types of long-grain rice include basmati varieties, fragrant jasmine and upland rice. The origin of long-grain rice contributes to its aroma, flavor and texture.

Biryani

Not only is long-grain rice distinct from medium- and short-grain rice in terms of size, texture and flavor, but it’s also processed somewhat differently. Long-grain rice kernels are more fragile than the shorter varieties, and require more delicate handling. Milling the rice requires a series of discs and rollers for removing the tough outer husk and inner husk one at a time to produce unbroken polished white grains. When packaged for export and sale, long-grain rice is usually stored in hard plastic containers or tightly packed into jute or burlap bags lined with hard plastic fibers, in order to protect the grains. Due to the more intense processing cycle, long-grain rice is often more expensive to buy, leading some countries to produce and export long-grain rice at a higher price, and import less expensive, potentially lower quality, rice to feed their people.

spicybasmatirice

Spicy Basmati Rice with Lentils and Spinach

The expense is often worth it. Long-grain rice has been used to create iconic dishes from so many cuisines across the globe. Full of flavor and aroma, the grains are used for Biryanis from India, Pilafs from the Middle East, Red Beans & Rice from the United States, and even plain boiled long-grain white rice as a staple in Southeast Asian dishes. Some of our favorite recipes include Thai Green Chicken Curry with fragrant jasmine rice, Gumbo Bowl and Spicy Basmati Rice with Lentils and Spinach. We love all of these! And when you make them, be sure to use long-grain rice… these fragile, distinct grains have such a unique texture—you’ll definitely love the results you get from using the right type of rice!

Let us know what you tried, and share your recipes below!

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