Zojirushi Blog

Blast from the Past: Zojirushi’s Most Iconic Tabletop Cooking Appliances!

Step back in time with us to the mid-1970s, when family diner-style restaurants were gaining popularity, and more women were entering the workforce. It was a transformative period – home-cooked meals evolved from mere nourishment to cherished family gatherings. Dishes like yakiniku and nabe, meant to be enjoyed together, emphasize the joy of shared meals. Yet, traditional tabletop cooking was anything but convenient. 

Enter Zojirushi. Through trial and error, we addressed key concerns like, “Is it handy?” “Are the temperature controls suitable?” and “Is it easy to clean up afterward?” This led us to develop a range of products to simplify tabletop cooking.  

Photos of products in white background. From the left; Yakiyaki, Tabegoro, and Age-age

 

In 1974, we introduced the Yakiyaki (AG Model) Electric Griddle, and not long after, the Tabegoro (CN Model) Electric Hot Pot and the Ageage (CT Model) Electric Fryer followed in 1978. These appliances revolutionized home cooking, making it easy to grill, boil, and fry, while fostering stronger family bonds over delicious meals. 

Join us on a nostalgic journey back to when Zojirushi first made the dining table the heart of the home! 

 

Zojirushi’s First Electric Griddle  Black and white picture of Zojirushi's First Electric Griddle

Teppanyaki, originating post-war from food cooked on scrap iron plates sold at black market food stalls, inspired our first electric griddle. We made it easy to enjoy teppanyaki at home and created our first iteration, the Electric Hot Plate in 1974. Embraced by many households, it became a predecessor to the heating technologies used in our products over the years.  

Today, our innovative spirit continues with advanced models like the Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle EA-DCC10 and the Electric Skillet EA-BDC10 These models transcend traditional cooking with variable temperature settings ranging from a gentle keep warm at 176°F to a searing 400°F. They are designed with a titanium and ceramic-enhanced triple-layer nonstick coating for exceptional durability and easy cleanup. Each unit comes with a convenient lid that speeds up cooking, enables steaming, and minimizes oil splatter. 

 

Zojirushi’s First Electric Skillet  Green electric skillet and orange electric skillet in a grey background

In pre-modern Japanese homes, there was often a hearth called “irori” that was used for cooking, lighting, and heating. From there, hotpot cuisine developed from the custom of eating the food that was boiled in the iroris.  

Hotpot dishes, in which ingredients are served in a pot without tableware, later evolved to use stoves. With that in mind, we launched the electric Guri-Nabe in 1981. This eventually evolved into the Zojirushi skilletwe have today, expanding our product line.  

Now, our product lineup includes the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-PBC10, the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50, and the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet for Yin Yang Hot Pot EP-PFC20. These versatile skillets facilitate a range of cooking techniques from grilling to slow cooking, equipped with adjustable temperature settings that ensure perfect heat for any dish. The EP-PBC10 features a deep-dish design ideal for soups and stews alongside a durable, easy-to-clean nonstick surface The larger EP-RAC50 includes two cooking pans: one deep and one flat, suitable for various culinary needs from sukiyaki to pancakes, with the additional steaming capabilities for healthier cooking options. The EP-PFC20 features a divided deep pan ideal for families that like to enjoy different hotpots at the same time. 

 

Zojirushi’s First Fish Roaster

Grey fish roaster in grey background

As an island nation, fish holds a special place in Japan. In addition to the popular dishes like sashimi, Japanese often grilled fish on the irori as well. In Japan, gas stoves often feature fish grills as it is an important part of Japanese cuisine. In 1991, Zojirushi introduced an electric fish griller, allowing households without a built-in grill to enjoy delicious grilled fish at home. 

Today, our Fish Roaster EF-VPC40 continues this tradition, offering advanced features that significantly reduce odors and smoke., This makes indoor grilling a more enjoyable and feasible for every home cook. This model is designed to accommodate various types of fish, ensuring even cooking and superb flavor preservation with its powerful top and bottom heating elements. The built-in catalytic filter effectively minimizes odors, allowing you to grill indoors without the lingering smells often associated with fish cooking. The simple and intuitive controls also make it easy to achieve perfect results every time, ensuring that each meal is not just nourishing but also a delightful culinary experience. 

 

Zojirushi’s First Indoor Grill

Another form of popular cooking in Japan is the “shichirin” (directly translated as “Seven Rings”), which is a small charcoal grill. In 1985, we introduced a table grill to enable easy at-home grilling of yakiniku and vegetables, inspired by the popular Shichirin style. Our commitment to indoor grilling has evolved into the Indoor Electric Grill EB-CC15 and the Indoor Electric Grill EB-DLC10, which offer enhanced safety measures and consistent heating. 

The EB-CC15 features a large grill designed to direct oils away from food, promoting healthier cooking. With its variable heat setting, you can easily control cooking temperatures with precision. The even larger EB-DLC10 elevates versatility is high-powered at 1,500-watts, making it ideal for grilling everything from steaks to seafood, even vegetables. Both models boast titanium and ceramic-enhanced dual-layer nonstick coating for superior nonstick performance and easy cleanup. Additional safety features include a cool-touch handle and body guardas well as a safety interlock system that prevents the heating element from operating unless the grill is correctly installed, ensuring a safe grilling experience. 

From our very first hot pot to the multifunctional electric griddle, Zojirushi has led the charge in transforming kitchen counters into hubs of culinary creativity. Do you remember when you first used one of these iconic appliances? Have a favorite dish you loved making with them? Share your nostalgic memories and recipes with us on social media by tagging us on Instagram and Facebook. Let’s keep the spirit of innovation and togetherness alive! #Zojirushi #ZoFan 

Ready to explore the full range of Zojirushi’s electric products? Visit our electric products page to discover our full lineup. 

 

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.

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.

 

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

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

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