Zojirushi Blog

Throwback to Innovation: Meet Zojirushi’s First Micom Rice Cooker!

Happy May, Zo Fans!

Floral patter vintage rice cooker at a museum with a colorful background

Are you ready to see back in time to discover the origins of one of Zojirushi’s iconic products? The Micom Rice Cooker transformed the way people cook rice around the world, and remains as one of our most beloved and popular products to date. Without it, we wouldn’t have any of our higher-end IH and Pressure IH rice cookers, as well!
But before we delve into the details, let’s rewind the clock and start where the innovation all began.

Innovating for Over 100 Years

More than a century ago in 1918, Zojirushi introduced the groundbreaking glass-lined vacuum bottle. This innovative creation, leveraging vacuum insulation technology drastically changed home convenience, laying the foundation for our enduring commitment to “Creating a Quality of Life.” From that passion, Zojirushi continued introducing a range of products designed to simplify and enrich daily living. 

Fast forward to the late 1970s and early 1980s, an era marked by unprecedented technological advancement developed in Japan. Known as the “microcomputer boom,” it led way to accessible appliances with capabilities like never before. From phones to washing machines, Japan saw a changing landscape of life with new technology making lives more convenient. 

This boom started competitions from many companies over the best way to cook the best rice. As a result, it was during this period that Zojirushi released its first Micom Rice Cooker. This would, in turn, be a significant step in the realm of rice cooking for generations to come.

Meet the Original Micom Rice Cooker

Profile view of floral vintage rice cooker with a colorful background in a museum

Zojirushi Micom Rice Cookers & Warmers made their debut in 1983, with the release of a product called Waza Irazu (NMT model). This Micom Rice Cooker fused traditional Japanese culinary techniques with cutting-edge microchip technology that automated much of the cooking process, allowing only washing before and fluffing after as manual tasks. 

Unlike its predecessors, which relied on traditional timers, the Micom technology offered precise control over cooking parameters, ensuring consistently flawless results with every batch of rice. Last but not least, the microchip allowed users to alter the rice-cooking procedure for different types of rice and other rice based dishes, including white rice, okayu (rice porridge), brown rice, and okowa (sweet rice).

Understanding Micom Technology

Micom is simply short for “microcomputer.” The microcomputer within our Micom rice cookers creates ideal cooking environments for various types of rice and rice dishes found in everyday homes. It essentially transformed your rice cooker into a smart appliance, capable of creating optimal cooking conditions for various types of rice and rice dishes. 

It replicated the beloved, precise heating method of a traditional Kamado stove, with a new level of control. By adjusting cooking time, temperature, and other parameters, it ensures the perfect batch of grains every time. Micom works tirelessly to manage soaking, cooking, and steaming behind the scenes to orchestrate the entire cooking process seamlessly. 

There’s a Japanese saying that captures the essence of Micom’s role in everyday life. Taken from the Kamado stove that the Japanese loved, the saying goes: “Hajime choro-choro/ Naka pa-ppa/ Akago naite mo/ Futa toruna!” which translates to “At first it bubbles, and then it hisses. Even if baby cries, don’t open the lid!” This passion for rice cooking laid the foundation for research that now translates into our products today.

Continuing the Legacy

We have always crafted our offerings, from high-end IH and Pressure IH rice cookers to internet-connected home appliances, with one overarching goal: to elevate the everyday experience. At Zojirushi, we remain steadfast in our commitment to craftsmanship, attention to detail, and high safety standards. Drawing upon our rich heritage and innovative technologies, we are excited to continue innovating new waves of products and services designed to inspire confidence and help everyone create treasured moments that they can share.

So, there you have it—the captivating tale of Zojirushi’s first Micom Rice Cooker! If you want to learn more about other Zojirushi throwback products, make sure to check out our Food & Culture blog. 

Do you have any stories of throwback Zojirushi products you want to share with us? We’d love to hear them! Tag us on Facebook and Instagram with hashtags #Zojirushi #ZoFan.

Commercial-Grade Comfort: Zojirushi’s Professional Electric Rice Warmer THA-603SA/803SA

Two Zojirushi's Professional Rice Warmer with white background

There is something about a warm bowl of rice that provides perfect comfort in a bowl! When you are running a bustling restaurant or a thriving catering business, serving up that homey feeling with every scoop of rice is crucial. That’s where the Zojirushi Electric Rice Warmer THA-603SA/803SA comes in — designed to keep rice warm at the perfect serving temperature and tasting like it was freshly made, without drying, scorching, or yellowing. Let us explore how this professional-grade appliance keeps your rice warm and deliciously fluffy, making your guests feel right at home. 

A person wearing a white shirt and apron opens the lid of the rice warmer

First Look: Capacity and Convenience 

The Zojirushi Commercial Rice Warmer THA-603SA/803SA is expertly crafted from durable and elegant stainless steel, making them elegant in the kitchen and durable and effortless to clean.  

Whether you are growing your restaurant business or have a bustling establishment unparalleled flexibility with options of 6 or 8-liter capacity, which equals approximately 66 or 88 servings! Plus, the smart design ensures effortless cleaning after a long shift. Some key features include a nonstick inner pan, a hinged/detachable/washable lid, and handles on the inner pan for easy removal. This allows you to focus on what matters most—delivering exceptional dining experiences.

A person wearing a white shirt and apron is holding the inner pan that has been removed

Safety and Reliability 

At Zojirushi, we prioritize not just the functionality but also the safety and cleanliness of our products in both home and professional kitchens. This is why the Electric Rice Warmer THA-603SA/803SA is backed by certifications for safety and sanitation. Being cETLus listed ensures that it meets rigorous safety standards set by the Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) for both the United States (UL) and Canada (CSA). Moreover, its ETL Sanitation listing guarantees compliance with sanitation requirements essential for commercial food service environments.  

How has our Electric Rice Warmer changed the game in your kitchen? Do you have tips or tricks you want to share, or a special dish that’s become easier to serve thanks to this rice warmer? Share your stories with us on Facebook and Instagram by tagging us. Remember, every meal you serve tells a story. Let’s spread the warmth together! #Zojirushi #ZoFan 

 

A Pivotal Moment in Zojirushi History: The Hanagumo Electric Rice Warmer

The royal blue Hanagumo rice cooker with a flower design around it and stainless trimming over a black reflective surface and a black background

Zojirushi’s long history of innovating dates back to our founding in Japan in 1918 with the manufacturing of glass-lined vacuum bottles – a breakthrough technology at the time. From that point forward, we were dedicated to creating new products and home appliances that make life more comfortable and convenient. And as Zo fans of today know, our approach to rice cooking is no exception.

The Evolution of Rice Warmth: A Historical Perspective Pre-Zojirushi

Before the advent of Zojirushi’s innovative solutions, warm rice was a luxury, often a challenge to keep fresh unless freshly cooked. People traditionally relied on “ohitsu” or straw baskets, and in the sweltering summer heat, a bamboo container called “meshi-ikaki” was essential to preserve the rice without spoilage.

The revolutionary Zojirushi elephant jar, however, changed everything. It addressed the common struggle of keeping rice warm, especially for families where late working hours were the norm. This breakthrough marked a significant shift in Japanese household convenience, setting the stage for the iconic Hanagumo Electric Rice Warmer.

Rice in a wooden container with lid called ohitsu

Introducing Hanagumo: the world’s first electric rice warmer

After years of working to perfect how rice is warmed and cooled through the thoughtful design of odor-eliminating vacuum-insulated rice jars, Zojirushi turned its attention to how electricity could make extended rice warming possible, without sacrificing taste. And thus, the world’s first electric rice warmer was invented.

The Hanagumo electric rice warmer hit the market in 1970, revolutionary for its ability to keep rice to 68°C to prevent the spread of bacteria. Its name, meaning flower cloud, and floral pattern quickly became recognizable across Japan – a symbol of life in “danchi” apartment buildings, where dining rooms and kitchens are integrated.

Powering a movement in history

The Zojirushi rice warmer’s popularity boomed throughout the mid 1970s, as industrialization and urbanization made dual-income households a societal mainstay. With more married couples headed to work, technology that could deliver added convenience and reduce household chores were in high demand, and the electric rice warmer joined the ranks of vacuums, washing machines, and refrigerators as home appliances making a new way of life possible.

By making at-home food preparation easier and less time consuming for working families, the rice warmer found itself at the center of a pivotal time in history. The UN declared 1975 the International Women’s Year, and the decade that followed represented a global movement for gender equality. During this period, women across the globe pursued opportunities for academic, social and career advancement outside the home, fueled by innovation that empowered then to use their time more freely than ever before.

Thus, home appliances like the Hanagumo Electric Rice Warmer that reduced the burden of domestic labor remained in high demand during this period, and ultimately inspired Zojirushi’s next great innovation: the electric rice cooker.

Rice in traditional Japanese bowls

Becoming Japan’s leading electric kitchen appliance manufacturer

Looking back at this pivotal chapter in our history, the Hanagumo marks an important milestone. It was the debut and popularity of this groundbreaking rice warmer that earned Zojirushi its place as one of Japan’s leading electric kitchen appliance manufacturers – a position we are proud to maintain today.

Where is the Hanagumo today?

Zojirushi will never stop innovating when it comes to rice cooking, with a lineup of electric rice cookers and warmers that takes inspiration from our very first model. Does your family have a vintage Hanagumo, or a story to share about your first Zojirushi rice warmer? Share with us on social media and help us celebrate where our journey began #ZojirushiHistory

Precision Meets Performance: Transform Your Kitchen with the Zojirushi Commercial Rice Cooker

Large rice cooker in stainless with black trimmings

Preparing the perfect bowl of rice can require time, care, and precision, which can be a challenge for those working in busy restaurant kitchens.

Enter the Zojirushi Commercial Rice Cooker NYC-36, a culinary marvel that makes the process easy at the flip of a switch. Designed for maximum performance and durability, it is the rice cooker of choice for cooks and chefs working in kitchens today.

A trusted tool of culinary experts.

Large stainless rice cooker in a kitchen and someone is opening the lid

A 20-cup powerhouse designed to flawlessly cook and keep your rice warm until ready to serve, Zojirushi’s Commercial Rice Cooker and Warmer elevates culinary creations to improve diner satisfaction.

The “keep warm” feature maintains your rice at the perfect serving temperature, ensuring your guests have a delightful experience with every bite. This feature complements a variety of menu items and global cuisines.

Close up of the bottom front of the rice cooker with a black panel with a switch that has keep warm and cook setting with a small light bulb on the side of each setting

This commercial electric rice cooker stands the test of even the most bustling of kitchens. Crafted with a durable stainless-steel exterior, the Zojirushi Commercial Rice Cooker promises longevity and resilience. The nonstick inner cooking pan adds a touch of convenience. Engraved with a rice water measure lines, both works together to make cooking and cleaning a breeze.

Large stainless rice cooker with the lid open and a person in the background lifting out the cooking pan

Ease and versatility at your fingertips

The Zojirushi Commercial Rice Cooker & Warmer is more than an appliance; it’s a culinary ally. From crafting perfect sushi rice to preparing flavorful rice bowls, this industrial rice cooker effortlessly adapts to any demand. With it being able to prepare 40 servings at a time, it is a must-have for your restaurant or catering business.

Whether you’re running a busy restaurant or catering an event, this commercial rice cooker is the most reliable choice for any kitchen or service setting where rice is the star of the dish.

When preparing your rice in this restaurant rice cooker, you will experience ease like never before as the side condensation collector manages excess moisture efficiently.

The detachable and washable inner lid further ensure that the highest standards of cleanliness are never compromised. Furthermore, the inclusion of an extra-large rice spatula adds even more convenience to your kitchen routine.

Zojirushi’s signature quality and safety standard

Proudly bearing the ETLus and NSF certifications, the Commercial Rice Cooker ensures your commitment to the highest safety and sanitation standards in keeping with Zojirushi’s long standing dedication to quality.

Raised view of the rice cooker with a person removing the transparent dew collector on the right side Explore more on YouTube and social media

Want to see it up close? Visit Zojirushi’s YouTube channel for a detailed look at the Commercial Rice Cooker & Warmer and discover more about Zojirushi’s range of commercial products.

And, if you are already using a Zojirushi commercial electric rice cooker in your restaurant or business, share your experience with us on Instagram and Facebook using #Zojirushi or #ZoFan to join our worldwide Zo family!

I cooked every rice type on the menu!

rice cooker display panel

Hello fellow rice fans and Happy New Year! This month I thought about how many menu settings there are on my rice cooker and how I never use anything but “white rice”. What if I made all the rice types available, just to see how they work? Do you think it would really make a difference? I put my rice cooker to the test!

Jasmine

We don’t eat much Jasmine rice at our house—we almost always make Japanese short grain so I’ve never experimented beyond “Regular” or “Quick”. I can tell you for a fact that “Quick” only takes about 35 minutes but there is a difference. You sacrifice a subtle, overall fluffiness that you get from soaking the grain in water for that extra time and it does affect the texture. I’m embarrassed to admit I use that setting a lot, especially if I’m having curry rice. If I’m topping my rice with curry, I’m just not all that fussy about my rice, you know what I mean?

But we had Thai food for dinner, and I wanted authentic Jasmine rice to go with it. So we decided to cook our own instead of eating the takeout one from the restaurant. thai food jasmine riceZojirushi warns in their manual that it may cook firmer than normal depending on the brand of the rice, but ours turned out perfectly. It was loose and not sticky, like Jasmine is supposed to be, and the fragrance of the rice really comes through when it’s fresh.

Porridge

This setting is used to make the watery rice gruel called “okayu” (pronounced oh-kah-yoo) that we eat when we’re not feeling well and have no appetite. It’s warm, comforting and easily digestible. The cooker did its job and left the rice in this soupy texture. Normally regular short grain is used for okayu.porridge in rice cooker

Personally, I like to have mine with the rice sprinkles that you can get at the Asian markets. It adds a great flavor to the rice, and if you have it with a pickled plum it’s healthy for you too. If you have this setting on your rice cooker, try this; I promise you’ll find it amazing. You don’t even have to be sick.rice gruel meal

Oatmeal

Even though our cooker doesn’t have an Oatmeal setting, you can use the Porridge menu to make oatmeal. We made a slight adjustment by adding twice the amount of oatmeal so that it wouldn’t come out too watery like the rice gruel. For more detailed information go to this page in Zojirushi and it will tell you exactly how to cook oatmeal and other types of rice.oatmeal in rice cooker

The advantage to using the rice cooker vs. in a pot on a stove? You don’t have to keep stirring it and watching it. We made it for breakfast and had a self-serve Oatmeal Bar.oatmeal breakfast bar

Sweet

The Sweet setting is used for mochi-gome (mochi rice). You can make a lot of Japanese style traditional desserts using this extra-glutinous rice, but all you need is a stand mixer to make real mochi. After it cooks, transfer the hot mochi rice to your mixing bowl. The Sweet setting does everything, so as long as you’ve measured correctly, you’ll get the super sticky texture you want. We didn’t have a dough hook for the mixer (recommended), so we used the flat beater attachment and it still worked fine. Just knead the mochi rice until you get real mochi.making mochi in stand mixer

Make sure you use a lot of corn starch to make the mochi easier to handle. WARNING: Sticky! If you can get red bean paste at your store, you can fill your mochi patties and form them into homemade Daifuku, a traditional dessert. making mochi with red bean pasteMy impressions of homemade mochi: if you have a chance to do this, do it! The freshness and natural sweetness of the rice gets enhanced, and the flavor is unbeatable. Store bought mochi doesn’t even come close. But the caveat is that clean-up might be a turn off to some—it really is hard to get off of everything. If anyone has any ideas about this let me know.

Mixed

The Mixed setting is used to make Takikomi Gohan, type of Japanese rice dish that you can make right in the pot from a kit that you can buy at the market. All the ingredients are in the box, so all you have to do is set it and forget it.

The extra cooking time allows the dashi flavored soup stock to infuse better into the rice so you get an umami flavored rice dish that goes perfectly with broiled fish or any light entree.

Here are two kinds of Takikomi Gohan that we made with the “Mixed” setting. Both were complete kits. This one is a mixed mushroom dish with bits of salmon.Japanese mixed rice with salmon

If you buy one that is more expensive, you can get one with chestnuts.Japanese mixed rice with chestnutsJust FYI, both of these Takikomi Gohan dishes are kits that come with everything you see, right out of the box. So easy!

Stay tuned for another post where I try the other menu settings on my rice cooker. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to explore your own rice settings—there’s so much you can do with it!

Products used in this post: Rice Cooker NP-HCC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2024

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