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The Spring Equinox is a National Holiday in Japan

This year the true first day of Spring is March 20th, the Spring Equinox, when day and night reach a point of equal length all over the world. In Japan, this day is a national holiday, which marks the coming of warmer weather and the anticipation of cherry blossoms. Traditionally, it is also a time to visit family grave sites to pay respects to the ancestors, a practice which started with the Imperial family dating back to the 8th century.

For food lovers like us, a major seasonal change brings fresh new produce, exciting dishes and more opportunities to experience world cultures through cooking. Zojirushi wants to help you bring in the spring, Japanese style.

Although seasonal produce varies from region to region, here´s just a partial list of fruits and vegetables that you can expect to find in markets now, at the peak of their flavor and value.

Artichokes Cherries Grapefruits Navel Oranges Spinach
Asparagus Strawberries Pineapples Mangos Parsleys
Lettuce Radishes Fennels Apricots Peas
Avocados Turnips Kiwis Kamquats Green Onions

Make These Springtime Favorites, Right in Your Rice Cooker!
Green Vegetable Sushi
Salmon Teriyaki
with Mixed Vegetables
Sweet Rice
with Adzuki Beans
Sushi rice, which has some acidity, sweetness and salty flavor, is delicious as it is. In this recipe sushi rice is tossed with green vegetables to create a refreshing spring sushi rice salad. The genuine teriyaki sauce you make in this dish is much better than store-bought sauces. It lets the delicious salmon flavor shine through the sauce instead of masking it. Sweet rice with adzuki beans, or sekihan, is often served at special occasions such as birthdays, weddings and holidays. The red color is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring happiness.

Spring signals the start of the Sakura, or cherry blossom, season in Japan, when the flowers begin blooming from the south and gradually stretch northward in a band of pink across the country. This gradual movement of the sakura is closely monitored in Japan, by reports on the nightly news as it approaches each region so that cherry blossom fans can be ready to see them in full bloom.

Cherry blossom viewing, or hanami, is a national tradition and eagerly awaited every year. As with most historical traditions in Japan, the practice of hanami started hundreds of years ago in the 7th century by the aristocracy. But by the 1600´s the custom had grown in popularity to the commoners as well, and the shogunate planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage the practice. Under the sakura trees, people gathered for picnics, drank sake and had cheerful feasts.

Today, not much has really changed. Some companies will have hanami parties for their employees, which can become long, raucous affairs that last well into the night if the viewing area is one that is illuminated by lights or paper lanterns. There are of course choice viewing spots, so much like holding a spot in line at a major event, people will stake out their area well in advance. Lots of bento styled box lunches, drinking and music characterize the modern way of appreciating the cherry blossoms.

Many Zojirushi Rice Cookers have special features that make them easy to use and versatile. Menu settings can cook different varieties of rice with precise temperatures and duration. Timer settings can have hot fresh rice for you at your convenience. When we talk about perfectly cooked rice, we know what we're talking about.

Learn more about our Rice Cookers and how they can serve you better!
(To view these videos, you will need Microsoft® Windows Media Player®)

Click here to watch Zojirushi Rice Cooker Videos Part 1:

Brown rice activation activates brown rice for increased nutritional values
Versatile slow cook function to prepare soups and other menus
Micro computerized Fuzzy logic technology
Automatic keep warm, extended keep warm and reheating cycle
Delay timer (2 settings)
Menu settings include: white, umami, mixed, sushi, porridge, sweet, brown, GABA brown, rinse-free, quick cooking and slow cook

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