May Brings Long Spring Days

bbq02Welcome to May! The days are stretching longer, weather is warmer, and we are seeing celery, shallots, apricots and pluots at the market. This time of year is always filled with
excitement. Vacation is just around the corner, and summer barbecues are so close that you can almost taste them!

This month, we celebrate a number of spectacular eating holidays, from Cinco de Mayo, to Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. There is always an excuse for dinner, brunch, or a backyard BBQ. We have been planning ahead for this month, and have set aside a few recipes that you just might find useful.

We are excited to share our fabulous new rice cooker with you this month, and introduce you to a few of our amazing recipes. We would also love to know what you have been cooking in your kitchen. If you have any kitchen miracles you would like to share, please send them our way.

 

Children’s Day

On May 5th we celebrate Kodomo no Hi, known as Children’s Day, in Japan. It is a day when older family members and friends recognize and honor their little ones, and wish for their well-being and happiness.kodomonohi02

This is a visually festive holiday. Japanese households and schools (mostly kodomonohiyoroielementary schools) display carp streamers, also known as Koinobori, during this time of the year wishing for good luck and promising fortune for the children. In Japanese culture, the carp has long been associated with strength and determination. It serves as a metaphor for children to strive hard to reach their goals and to overcome obstacles encountered in their personal pursuits. Inside homes, people display samurai helmets and armor as a symbol of strength and prosperity.

During this season, it is also customary to make Kashiwamochi, a special rice cake dessert wrapped with an oak leaf. It is filled with some kashiwamochisweet Adzuki bean paste, and the fresh scent from the oak leaves transfers to the rice cake, adding a subtle, yet pleasant herbal taste to the dessert. Children all over the country look forward to receiving this special treat on Kodomo no Hi.

In the United States we celebrate holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents Day to pay respect and love to our elders, but there isn’t a special day to celebrate and embrace the young generation. What do you think about implementing something that resembles Children’s Day in the western world? Wouldn’t it be a nice way to connect the young with the old?

Wasabi – An Insight into This Amazing Condiment

 As mawasabi03ny of you know, wasabi is one of the most recognized of all the Japanese condiments, and is in the same horticulture family as horseradish. The history of wasabi has noble beginnings dating back over a century ago, when people first started utilizing it as a medicinal ingredient to kill harmful bacteria. It was about 400 years ago when people began to enjoy wasabi as a condiment, and around the same time that the cultivation of the plant also began.

 

Today, the number of Japanese wasabi farmers has decreased to only a handful, as growing it is a very time consuming and labor intensive process. As a result, it has become very difficult to purchase genuine wasabi, and the majority of it we find in the general markets and restaurants is just a mixture of Western horseradish and green food coloring.

Don’t be disappointed though, because there are a few wasabi farmers in the U.S. They are mostly in the state of Oregon, where they have the cool climate and the clean water necessary for growing it. So if you really want to try some real wasabi, you can visit those farms in Oregon!

wasabi04For an authentic Japanese meal, try adding genuine wasabi paste to our traditional Nigiri Sushi recipe: https://www.zojirushi.com/app/recipe/-i-nigiri-sushi-i-. Real wasabi can hold its flavor for
up to 15 minutes only, and it must be graded immediately before serving. Compared to the imitation one, the real wasabi is a bit less spicy, but its fresh aroma is just beyond description! Try it, and let us know if you can tell the difference!

Otoshibuta, Your New Best Friend

 If you don’t have an experience cooking in a Japanese kitchen, you have probably never seen otoshibuta before. Literally meaning, drop lid, these round cooking lids are slightly smaller than the diameter of the pot, and sit directly on top of the cooking ingredients.  Otoshibuta helps the cooking liquid move towards the lid, and coats the top of the food creating a more concentrated flavor. It also reduces the likelihood of the cooking liquid boiling over on the stove, and allows food to cook quickly and evenly.otoshibuta

Otoshibuta are typically wooden and soaked in water just before use. This will prevent the tool from soaking up the cooking liquid, or worse, cracking. You can also find plastic, silicon or metal varieties, but a bit of tin foil or even paper towel will serve as a makeshift otoshibuta in a pinch. In fact, tin foil ones serve better than the wooden ones when you are cooking delicate ingredients because the lid will not crush the ingredients while simmering.

This tool is great for simmering hardy root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins, as well as fish. Perhaps you can find an online tutorial or a recipe, then experiment for yourself. Just when you thought you knew it all, right? There’s always more to learn!

Product of the Month: Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC10/18

NPHCCWe are over the moon to be sharing our newest rice cooker with you! The NP-HCC is one of the most advanced and innovative so far! We have continued to perfect and enhance our cutting-edge induction heating technology to bring you perfectly cooked rice every single time.

This rice cooker is equipped with a variety of settings including GABA brown, porridge, sushi and now, Jasmine rice! We cater to the rice you choose, while you simply enjoy! Did you know that our GABA brown function actually cooks brown rice low & slow to activate and increase the nutritional value of the rice? We are always thinking about you and how best to serve…

The best feature of this product just might NPHCC03be the easy to read orange back lit LCD control panel. We have changed it from the green to be easier on the eyes. It’s always fun to switch up the colors!

We’ve kept your busy schedule in mind with a delay timer & automatic keep warm. The rice will be made around your schedule and can be kept warm for up to 12 hours. Yes, that’s about 3 meals folks!

With a sleek stainless steel interior and a thick non-stick inner pan, this product is easy to clean both inside and out. We thought a detachable inner lid would help with those tough to reach corners.

From delay cooking to keeping warm, cooking to cleaning up, the NP-HCC has got it all going on. We sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

A Time for New Beginnings

springtimeDid you know that in Japan the school year begins in April? It’s an unusual concept to those of us accustomed to a September ‘back to school’ season. Seasonally speaking, April is the perfect time to begin something new. The dead months of winter are long gone, new life is all around, and the opportunities for new beginnings are just about endless.

In true Japanese style, the practice of heading back to school would not be complete without some kind of ceremony or ritual. After all, it is a very special moment for children, and can be quite scary! Don’t you remember?

Nyuugakushiki or school entrance ceremonies are held across the country in the beginning of April.  It is a time for upperclassmen to welcome incoming students and for all to think about what kind of year they’d like to lead. Older students and parents will take their seats in the school gym as new students march in to be welcomed by a round of applause. It is a wonderful way to join students together indeed.school

During this ceremony, the school principal might talk about what’s ahead and introduce the teachers. An older student or two will typically say a few words to help ease the nerves of younger children. The ceremony would not be complete without singing the school song to bring all children together!

While most of our ‘back to school’ days have long passed, we can still take time to think about what’s to come in the approaching spring and summer months-and what a fantastic time to ponder! A new project, a family vacation, or a blow out party just might be the inspiration for new beginnings! Whatever it is you decide for the next few months, we are sure it will be filled with food, friends, and happy memories. Welcome to spring!

Randoseru: Not your Mamma’s Jansport

Japanese school children have the coolest backpacks! In fact, they’re not even called backpacks; they’re called randoseru. See, they even sound cooler! If you have ever been to Japan, read manga, or seen an episode of Pokemon, then surely you have seen the stiff leather bags strapped to the backs of kids in Japan.

randoseru

The name randoseru actually comes from the Dutch word ransel, which means backpack. These sturdy leather varieties were brought to Japan in the 19th Century and became a must-have item in the later half of the 20th. Kids receive their first randoseru at age 6 and are expected to keep the same one until 6th grade! It’s not exactly the same disposable mentality over there, eh?

That longevity does come with a price however. Randoseru cost anywhere from $350-randoseru02$600! They are mostly expensive because of the high quality leather. If you are looking to save you can find synthetic varieties at lower prices. They are becoming quite popular these days! Kids love to add accessories, covers, and charms to their backpacks, and you can find endless bits and bobbles in shops around Japan.

If you are intrigued by these long-lasting backpacks, we have good news for you. They can actually be found easily online these days. How is that for a fashion statement?

Myouga, a Delicate Early Summer Herb

It looks like a baby onion, tastes like a mild ginger, and will add extra zing to any dish! We are talking about Myouga or Myoga ginger. These delicate little guys are best enjoyed when they are soft and young. Cultivated year round, we recommend enjoying in the myougamonths of June to September. That’s when their flavor is best!

If you haven’t noticed these guys around, it’s probably because you didn’t know to look. Myoga ginger is widely available at most Japanese markets and online. That’s good news because Myoga ginger goes with just about everything.

Our favorite way to enjoy this punchy ingredient is raw and thinly shaved over noodles, tofu and salad. We also recommend it finely chopped in salad dressings and marinades, or finished with pan sauces. You can even dry them in an oven at low heat for crispy ginger chips or pickle them in vinegar for a sour snack. Happy cooking!

Must-Have Item of the Month: Ohitsu & Shamoji

shamojitoohitsu

This month, our must-have items are just about as old as rice! They are the kind of tools you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. Once you start using ohitsu & shamoji, you will use them every single day. Now, what are they?

Ohitsu means rice tub. They are the old school covered rice bowls that come in a variety of materials from the classic wood to plastic, and even ceramic. You can keep your rice in ohitsu for serving at table. This will keep rice warm, moist, and fluffy just how you like it!

bigshamoji

The largest shamoji in the world, located in Miyajima.

And you won’t have any luck serving your rice without shamoji or rice paddle. This paddle can be used for serving, cooking, and mixing. The wooden varieties even work for stir fries and scrambled eggs! (That’s our little secret!) We advise mixing rice, immediately after it completes cooking, with a shamoji. Mixing rice will allow excess moisture to escape, and keep the consistency throughout the bowl of rice.

Don’t believe us? Treat yourself to a starter kit online and see how you like it. Don’t forget to report back to us with your kitchen stories!

 

Celebrating March and the Spring Equinox

Happy March! Ah, where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating Christmas and New Years! Suddenly, spring is upon us, and we are already looking ahead to summer.  Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! There are several exciting things happening at Zojirushi right now. We’ve got new recipes, new announcements, and some fantastic new products to share with you this season!

This is a magnificent time of year to be in the kitchen, and we are overwhelmed with the variety of fruits and vegetables coming through our doors. We are still seeing beautiful winter produce from tart and crunchy granny smith apples to spicy winter lettuces. At the same time, Spring produce is just starting to bud with items like fresh artichoke, baby asparagus and the labor-intensive fava bean! Our kitchens are overflowing with inspiration, and we hope yours are too!

favabeanrisotto

As we straddle the timeline between winter and spring, we can’t help but look forward and back simultaneously. The Spring Equinox is the best time to let go of whatever it is you’re still holding on to from winter, and give life to dreams and goals for Spring. If there is anything you are still hoping to change or achieve this year, now is the time to set that intention. The Equinox will fall on March 20th. You might want to take time that week to sit in silence and quiet mediation. We are planning on it!

Please read on for fun tips, recipe inspiration and product information. We hope that your Spring is filled with happy memories and delicious cooking. Here’s to you!

Hinamatsuri, a Treasured Japanese Holiday Celebration

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAEvery year on March 3rd, we display beautifully crafted dolls in celebration of Hinamatsuri or Doll’s Day. The dolls are meant to represent the emperor, empress, attendants and musicians of the Heian Court. While the dolls do a wonderful job showing off the style of the period, they represent much more than just ancient royalty. The dolls are a powerful tool used to ward off evil and bad spirits.hinamatsuri3

Back in the Heian period (794-1185), people actually believed dolls had the power to hold evil or negative spirits. They would gather the dolls up, and send them out to sea on small wooden boats, hoping that the dolls would carry their troubles with them, and clear them of worry and anxiety. How does that sound for catharsis?

The funny thing is that, eventually, the dolls would become caught in the nets of local fishermen. This became such a huge problem, the ritual had to be changed! These days, people still send the dolls to sea, but pull them out after some time. Finally, the dolls are burned– destroying evil spirits once and for all. At least for that particular year! It is believed to be bad luck to leave one’s dolls on display past March 4th!

Like all great Japanese holidays, Hinamatsuri would not be complete without a very particular kind of food. On this special day we drink a fermented rice wine with sweet notes called shirozake. In addition to this unfiltered sake, we enjoy bite sized rice crackers called hina-arare, hishimochi, a diamond shaped tri-colored rice cake, and our personal favorite, chirashizushi.

gomokusushi2

Chirashizushi is a mixed “sushi cake”, if you can picture it. It is a celebratory treat, and fun because you can really make it your own! We wanted to share our special recipe for “Gomoku-sushi”, which is a type of Chirashizushi – just in case you wanted to try! Enjoy!

Fukinoto, a Spring Delicacy

fukinoto2

Fukinoto, or Fuki, is one of the things we miss most about Japan! This unique plant can actually be found growing wild throughout the country. Sadly it is difficult and almost impossible to find and grow here in the states. Often foraged from the wild and always enjoyed once prepared, the stems of this vegetable taste kind of like celery. They are prepared in the same traditional way throughout Japan– the shoots are cooked in miso soup, while the buds are fried in a tempura batter.

The sight of Fukinoto throughout Japan is a sure sign of spring’s start! We like to think that the bitter taste helps cleanse the body of winter’s heavy fare – preparing us for the lighter fare of the season. If you have ever heard Fukinoto we would love to hear where and how. It is an unusual item and wonderful conversation starter! Happy foraging!

Saibashi, Not your Grandmother’s Tongs

Saibashi is not a subway stop in Tokyo! For those of you “un-initiated” into the cooking tools of Japan, prepare to be impressed! Seemingly simple and unassuming, Saibashi can be described simply as, ‘really long chopsticks’. They are much, much more than that.

Saibashi are widely considered one of the most important tools in the Japanese kitchen. Saibashi are so incredibly useful that most Japanese chefs can’t live without them.

saibashi

Although they resemble chopsticks in shape they are much longer and serve a different purpose. From sautéing hot dishes to plating small ones, there are countless ways to use these beloved tools. Because of their length chefs are able to reach the bottom of a pot as well as using saibashi to stir stews and soups. The best part is, you can buy them online for about a dollar a pop! So go ahead, and prepare to be impressed. Grab yourself a pair of really long chopsticks and see how they enrich your kitchen life! Enjoy!

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH: HOME BAKERY MINI BREADMAKER (BB-HAC10)

This month we are celebrating one of our favorite and cutest products in the catalog! The Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker is perfect for singles, small families and those of you looking to “lean in” to making bread at home. This no fuss product makes tasty 1 lb loaves of bread in less than 2 hours. It also makes dough for cookies, & pasta, as well as homemade jam and even bakes a cake. Now you can say goodbye to chemical additives and artificial preservatives, and enjoy fresh bread at home! Here’s to you!

BB-HAC10

The Food Jar, a Moveable Feast

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, we have sharing on our minds. After all, aren’t all relationships about sharing? We share experiences, memories, meals, homes. Some of us share expenses, kids and responsibilities! We can’t think of one thing worth having, but not sharing. This Valentine’s Day, we wanted to steer away from the usual chocolate and flowers, and offer you something more to share.

If you are not yet familiar with our Stainless Food Jars, we invite you to get to know them. With state of the art stainless steel, vacuum insulation technology and gasket seals, these puppies are built to last! We have spent years perfecting these jars to create a product that keeps food warm and delicious with minimum spills. Now, we offer a wide variety in shapes and sizes for every occasion.

food jars

So, why not give the gift of a homemade meal this V-Day? Whether you bring lunch to share with that special someone or offer a meal made with love to a friend or colleague, a hot meal is a wonderful way to show that you care. We have developed several romantic soups for this particular occasion. Check our recipes for ideas and inspiration, and make it your own! We promise, that special someone will not be disappointed! Cheers!

Nanohana, A Japanese Delicacy

This time of year green nanohana take on bright yellow blossoms and a fresh taste. The vibrant yellow buds on this favorite veggie are a sure-sign that spring has indeed sprung. Nanohana or canola plant is actually one of the oldest vegetables cultivated in Asia. With a look and flavor similar to broccolini, you will see nanohana in many Japanese meals as a side, kaiseki course, or pickled and served in a small dish. It is well loved wherever it lands on the table!

nanohana

Nanohana is a multifaceted veggie that can be served in a number of ways. High in vitamin C and other nutrients, every morsel is edible from flower to stem. You might find it in the states this year under the umbrella of “broccoli”, and you will be able to identify it straight away by its yellow flowers. Keep in mind that nanohana flowers can be very small in size sometimes making them a challenge to find.

If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon nanohana, you will have no problem making it taste delicious. You can boil, steam, sauté in a stir-fry or dip in tempura batter for a seasonal treat. If it is young, you can even enjoy it raw and thinly sliced in a hearty rice salad. Traditionally, nanohana is blanched, dipped in dashi and sprinkled with bonito flakes this time of year. Try it in the traditional sense if you get a chance!

nanohana2

Nanohana with small yellow blossoms is a magical sign of early spring in Japanese culture. If you do find this vegetable in your local farmers market, it will be a sign of good luck for the months to come. Happy hunting!

Donabe, Japanese Earthenware

If you would like to give your one-pot dinners a rustic, country flavor, then treat yourself to a Donabe pot this year. Donabe are clay or earthenware pots for cooking in Japan. You can set them directly on the fire or pop them in the oven for a simple and delicious meal! This was actually one of the oldest tools used to cook rice. They were used in Japan before the invention of electricity. It is a uniquely traditional way to prepare rice.

Most Donabe that are crafted with quality are incredibly durable, and should be able to survive through years of use. There are Donabe in Japan that have survived for centuries! Occasionally however they do chip or crack. Do not leave Donabe empty over the heat. Make sure it is full of tasty food or rice before cooking!

donabe2If you do make the jump and decide to purchase a Donabe, then please keep us posted with pictures and recipes! We would love to see how you make these beautiful pots your own!

Product of The Month: Tuff Sports SJ-SHE10

The Product of The Month we would like to feature in February is the SMTuff Sports SJ-SHE10. Perfect for those who are active, this vacuum insulated bottle holds up to 32 oz. of your favorite beverage, hot or cold, for hours. With a lid that conveniently turns into a cup, the Tuff Sports is perfect for soccer practice, tennis matches, even your kids’ Tee-ball game!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/sjshe

sjshe

Finding Home in the New Year!

Finding Home in the New Year!

Happy New year - Resized

 

Happy January! With a new year and a fresh start on the horizon, the possibilities to make this year a great one are simply endless! We have countless new products, recipes and tips to share with you. From rice cookers to stainless products, we are delighted to unveil the fruits of our labor. We spend years testing recipes and fine-tuning products to ensure they are just right for you – our number one inspiration!

While our office is located in sunny Southern California, our hearts and much of our inspiration still hails from Japan. It’s amazing just how much of Japan is available locally and all around us. From Japanese farmers and nurseries that specialize in native plants and produce, to Japanese markets filled to the brim with memories of home. There always seems a way to add familiar flair to whatever it is we do.

 

This year, we would like to focus on coming home. If you’re like us and have two places that you call home, you’ll understand what we mean. Maybe it’s that jar of market jam on your turkey sandwich or east coast lobster as a special treat! We keep a tub of homemade pickled plums in the office just in case we get that little craving for a taste of home! There are so many ways to create a feeling of “home” while staying local, it is just incredible!

 

We would like to share some inspirations from our home through Japanese produce, products, and equipment. In turn, we ask that you share your favorite kitchen secret from home. Pickled shrimp? Patty melt? Fish tacos? Whatever it is, we want to know! Share your kitchen secrets and memories with us on Facebook and here on the blog.  Cheers!

 

 

Mitsuba: An Unusual Dinner Guest

Looking for a new green to add to your repertoire? Mitsuba could be just the thing to bring a little something to the table this month. Mitsuba, also known as Japanese parsley is known for its three leaves, fresh taste, and versatility. Somewhere in between shiso and celery leaf, mitsuba is bright and herbal with a fresh edge. You can eat every last bit of the plant including the stems, roots and seeds! And it’s a cinch to grow. If you have a garden box or a backyard plot, your mitsuba should be abundant in no time!

 

Enjoy mitsuba raw in a fresh salad or in your morning green machine. Garnish freshly chopped mitsuba over steamed clams and other fish dishes for a fresh finish or add to soups and stocks for an exotic edge. Mitsuba would also be great tossed in a rice salad with other fresh herbs and some lemons. Needless to say, there are many delicious options for this happy three-leafed plant!

 

Tell us how you like to use this magical little plant here on the blog. Who knows, it just might end up in one of our new recipes! Happy cooking!

Chawan_0831

Homegrown Pickles: Using the Tsukemono Ki

No Japanese table is complete without a little pickled something. Daikon, plums, cucumbers, cabbage — you name it! We love a little salty/sour something during mealtimes. And we’ve got some good news – you can DIY your own pickles with the help of a Tsukemono Ki! Can you say it three times fast?

 

The Tsukemono Ki is a handy little tool made for pickling vegetables fast. In ancient times, pickles were made in giant wooden and ceramic tubs with large stones. This was a messy and time-consuming process that has been made more convenient over the centuries. The small and easy to store Tsukemono Ki is a little pickle pot that sits on your table, counter or in the cupboard with a lid that has a screw attached to an inner plate that applies pressure to make Tsukemono.

It will make crisp and crunchy pickles out of just about anything in a matter of hours. And they are widely available online and in Japanese markets!

 

Go ahead, experiment and mix a little bit of your home with ours. How about pickled Washington Apples? Napa Cabbage? Bell peppers? You be the judge! Pickle away and let us know what you find. Here’s to a little something sour! Cheers.

pickes - resized

 

PRODUCT OF THE MONTH – Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-GBC05

We are delighted to share with you what just might be our cutest product yet…

Our little Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer is all dressed up in a beautiful new stainless dark brown color! This gem pairs the latest Zojirushi technology with streamline design to create the ultimate appliance for singles and young couples featuring…

 

  • Superior induction heating (IH) technology
  • 3 cup size ideal for singles and smaller families
  • Detachable and washable inner lid
  • Automatic keep warm
  • Made in Japan

 

http://zojirushi.com/products/npgbc

NPGBC05XT - LOGO

December Is The Month of Celebration

We are so happy to be celebrating the holiday season with you again! This time of year is always special as families come together, gifts start piling up under the tree, holiday parties are in full effect, and the colder weather makes warm recipes that much more delicious!

christmas-68279_640[1]

Food, however, is not the only thing ringing through our senses this season. Since 1925, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been the song playing throughout theatres, malls, and radio stations during the month of December. This is also a time when people are running around buying gifts and putting together grocery lists.  Although it is a busy season, don’t forget to take a moment, relax with a cup of something warm and soothing, and enjoy life! Soak in this holiday season with everything that makes it special.

Toshikoshi, The Year End Soba Noodle

Soba is not as well known as Ramen is in the States, but it is a delicious and widely available noodle made from buckwheat flour. Often served cold with a chilled dipping sauce, you will find soba noodles everywhere from convenience stores and train stations, to specialty restaurants and food courts in Japan. The cut and texture of the noodles, as well as the temperature and flavor of the broth all depend on how and where you are eating soba. New Year’s soba have their own distinct flavor and name that is as fun to say as they are to slurp – Toshikoshi Soba!

soba

Toshikoshi Soba is the year end noodle dish eaten on New Year’s Eve. They have a distinct flavor and way of preparation, but what it symbolizes is what matters most. The tradition of eating soba noodles on New Year’s Eve dates all the way back to before the start of the Edo era, between 1603 and 1868. Back then, the act of eating long noodles symbolized a long life ahead. Buckwheat is a strong and resilient plant that can survive harsh weather, and therefore, this symbol of strength is another reason we enjoy soba during this time of year. Buckwheat noodles are also a symbol of letting go of hardships because they are so easy to cut while eating! Overall, Toshikoshi Soba is a way to offer good luck for the year ahead.

Toshikoshi Soba is served warm in a hot broth made of dashi, mirin, and soy sauce. This dish is often garnished with fresh cut spring onions and fish cake. If you are intrigued, keep in mind that you can enjoy soba all year round. Buckwheat noodles are delicious and lower in calories than whole-wheat pasta! They are rich in Magnesium, B vitamins and can act as a powerful antioxidant. Did we mention that they are also delicious?

So, what are you waiting for? Check the imported food aisle in your local grocer, and start experimenting with this wonderful noodle variety! Happy hunting!

Hyakunin Isshu – A Popular Game For This Season

If you have ever been in Japan around this time of year, you may have seen some people playing a unique card game based off of 100 ancient Japanese waka poems. Each poem has been written in a specific rhythm accompanied by an intricate drawing. These pictures and poems serve as an anthology of Japanese history.

Today, there are two variations of the card games used with these Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. One is called Karuta asobi and is similar to a matching game where you need to identify two matching cards. The other game is called Bozu mekuri and it utilizes the images on the cards. The object of that game is to gather as many cards as possible by the end of the deck.

Product of The Month: VE® Hybrid Water Boiler & Warmer (CV-DCC40/50)

This month, we would like to introduce our brand new Water Boiler, the Zojirushi VE® Water Boiler & Warmer (CV-DCC). What a great product for us to feature this month, as it would be the perfect gift for that special someone who loves freshly brewed tea each day. The newest in our magnificent line of appliances features…

  • Super VE technology that allows for excellent heat retention.
  • 4 temperature settings that offers micro computerized control
  • Quick Temp setting that lets you keep water warm without boiling
  • Auto Shut-Off, a safety function to prevent damage from overheating

For more information and specific product details visit our site.

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/cvdcc

CVDCC-LOGO

 

 

 

 

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving!

Time is flying dear friends, and we have so much to be grateful for this month. November marks our favorite American holiday, the tradition of Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving embodies everything we at Zojirushi believe in. From coming together with loved ones, to sharing a homemade meal, Thanksgiving is a great time for cooking, eating, and giving. It is a time to reflect on all that we have, give thanks for our blessings, and also to give back to the less fortunate. Food drives and community potlucks are some of our favorite weekend outings this time of year.

As we meditate on the spirit of giving, we recognize that it is not only in the charitable sense. Giving thanks is an obvious one for November, but we can give in so many different ways! Ask your kids to give a little more when they do their homework, give more to your spouse, or hold the door open that much longer for a stranger. Whatever giving may mean to you, put it into practice this November. Let’s pay it forward and give!

Although this month is all about giving, it is not the only thing on our mind. We’ve got eating and cooking on our minds as well. With all the delicious seasonal produce available in November, who wouldn’t have food on the brain! From hearty fall pumpkins and squash to luscious persimmons and sweet seasonal quince, we are endlessly grateful to our local farmers!

We hope to share pictures, recipes and ideas with you throughout the month as well as through the winter holidays. We find that YOU are always our biggest inspiration so let us know what you are cooking and eating this month, and Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers, Zojirushi!

Thanksgiving

Finding Zen in the Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden or Nihon Teien is a magical place where one may find peace, serenity, art, and balance. These traditional Japanese gardens create perfect miniature landscapes that can be surreal and breathtaking. Throughout Japanese history you will find royal gardens for pleasure and art, or Buddhist gardens for peace and meditation. Stepping into a Japanese garden today is sure to calm the mind as well as please the senses!

Japanese Garden - Blog

Take a moment, close your eyes and imagine a monk delicately drawing lines in the sand of a Buddhist rock garden. Now imagine some golden Koi as they swim through a trickling pond. Then, there is that smell of bitter green tea from a teahouse nearby or a woman shuffling along in her kimono and tabi. These are all characteristics that can be expected in a Japanese garden.

While Japanese gardens seem distinctly of Japanese culture today, they actually originated in China. Japanese merchants who were inspired by the Chinese gardens of the Asuka period, approximately during the years 538 – 710AD, brought the concept back and made it their own, although the culture of the Japanese garden is known to date all the way back to the year 74AD!

Like most things, Japanese gardens have evolved over the centuries while remaining an essential part of the culture. You can find old and modern style gardens all over the world. That’s right, you don’t even have to go to Japan to experience the zen of the Japanese garden. Most American cities keep their own! So check your local parks and museums for a Japanese garden today and enjoy!

koi fish - blog-2

An Ancient Game Still Popular Today

Sugoroku is a popular game played in Japan. It is almost exactly like backgammon with a few minor differences. The illustrious history behind this game is fascinating as well. Once outlawed in Japan for nearly 100 years due to it being used for gambling, it is now a commonly played game by both young and old. What helps make this game popular is the vibrant artwork displayed on the playing board. The rules never change but the elaborate decorative element makes each board unique. There are more variations of game boards than we can even count!

http://www.sugoroku.net/index_e.html

Product of The Month: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50)

For November, we have selected a Product of The Month that could be a huge help to you in the kitchen this Thanksgiving. We’d like to present the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet. This electric skillet can serve for multiple purposes. Its unique design allows for deep soup-type recipes, a flat plate for traditional grilling, and also works as a steamer! Because of how easy it is to clean along with the quality of the product, we are confident that this will be a wonderful edition to your kitchen countertop.

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/eprac

EP-RAC-Logo

 

October’s Greetings!

We hope that you are having an enjoyable fall this year. As summer green turns to gold and brown, we enjoy the crisp dark nights of autumn. Warm squash and potatoes fill our plates and hearty stews take the place of light summer salads. There is so much to celebrate this time of year! A brisk evening walk can remind you of the magic this season has to offer.

Between back to school madness and holiday party planning, it can be difficult to stop and enjoy the little things. Give yourself a break this year and enjoy a little. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Take time to enjoy the smell of the changing leaves and flickering pumpkins on doorsteps.autumn-19440_1280

Holiday projects can create space for new adventure, shared memories and edible treats! The simple act of carving pumpkins creates endless seeds for roasting or homemade granola. Fresh fruit can be cut and decorated in festive shapes for Halloween and trick or treaters can try artisanal snacks in lieu of commercial grade candy.

No matter how you spend your fall, be sure to ENJOY it! As always, Zojirushi will be there with you every step along the way. We hope our stainless products provide space for elevated boxed lunches and our water boilers allow you to sip on home brewed green tea You can rest easy knowing that we’ve created the best of the best to help you get through the holiday season with ease. As always, happy cooking!

 

Shogi: The Japanese Strategy Game

 

Just when you think you know everything about Japanese culture, we will surprise you with a fun new fact. Ever heard of a Japanese board game called Shogi? It’s a 2 person strategy board game similar to the American game of Chess. Shogi can be traced all the way back to Chaturanga in India in the 6th Century. It can be traced in its current form back to the 16th Century – now that is a long time ago!

 

shogibox2-httpwww.japanese-games-shop.comshogijapanese-chess-shogi-in-a-box-is-backattachmentshogibox2If you want to play this game, you’ll have to learn the Kanji. Pieces are not shaped like kings and horses, but marked by their kanji. There are kings, pawns, bishops, rooks and so on. The game is like chess in that it is about movement, strategy and turns. It is believed that shogi has the highest game complexity of all chess variants.

There are two professional organizations for the game in Japan – one for men and one for women. Both organizations plan various tournaments around the country. But you don’t need to be professional to play. In fact, you don’t even need to buy a board! These days, there are plenty of online games available at one’s fingertips.

 

Whether you are a seasoned chess player or just looking to get your feet wet, you can dabble in the game of shogi without much commitment. So go ahead, try something new! Let us know what you think!

 

 

Ankimo: The Foie Gras of the Sea

 

Can you imagine a rich briny pillow of sea? It’s just salty enough, but creamy and smooth like butter. In Japan we call it Ankimo, which is monkfish liver. It is treated with salt and sake, steamed and rolled into a cylindrical terrine. It is then sliced and served with fresh vegetables and ponzu sauce. The finished product epitomizes the Japanese flavor profile.  h

Are you intrigued yet? If you are a fan of pate or foie gras, this might be for you. The creamy, buttery quality is not unlike chicken and duck liver. Because it comes from a large fish, it could be too fishy for some. Perhaps it is an acquired taste for the American palate to be discovered and then enjoyed. In the spirit of trying new things, order ankimo next time you are out for sushi. Who knows, you just might surprise yourself! Happy hunting….

Product of The Month: Stainless Mug (SM-KHE36/48)

SM-KHE-GroupIn September we would like to bring attention and talk about a simple yet amazing product from Zojirushi. Our Product of The Month is the SM-KHE Stainless Mug. Not only is it featured in some dashing new colors but it performs perfectly maintaining hot or cold beverages for hours. If you are looking for a high quality water bottle this is it!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/smkhe

Changing with the Leaves this Fall

Fall is the time to welcome transition. Shorter days, crisp evenings and busy back to school schedules all mark the natural changing of the season. Summer slips away as we pack boxed lunches and backpacks, while autumn brings the promise of apple pies and holiday gatherings. These days, the weather stays fairly warm through the beginning of September, and the long shadows of summer remain in the form of bright red tomatoes, sweet corn and juicy strawberries. At the same time we are met by acorn squash, cider apples and textured blackberries in the markets. Needless to say, it is a fantastic time to be in the kitchen!

autumn-209479_640

As the glow of summer begins to wane, busy schedules take over, football grabs our attention and another holiday season is hot on our heels. The multitude of fall activities can feel overwhelming as we pack them into shorter and colder days. Don’t let it stress you this fall! Welcome the change of pace with open arms, and know that with a little planning and the right equipment, you can shift into the season with ease.

The abundance of fresh market produce available this time of year combined with our Zojirushi products and equipment should provide you with an arsenal of tools to stay organized and happy this fall season. Try making boxed lunches the night before; utilize leftovers to create hearty school time snacks. Embrace the farm to table mindset in the kitchen, utilize our Gourmet and Stainless products and you should have everything you need for an effortless fall season. As usual, we would love to hear how you stay grounded and well fed this autumn. Please keep us updated on Facebook and in the comments section below. You are our biggest inspiration! Happy Cooking!

Hozuki: The Japanese Winter Cherry

lampionblume-388095_640

Can you imagine a flower that looks like a paper lantern? The physalis alkekengi is exactly that. Also known as Japanese lantern, winter cherry or hozuki, this plant is as delicate looking as it sounds. Bright red fruit is covered by a Kyoto red papery covering that dries to a translucent white in the spring to reveal the fruit below. Though it’s not widely eaten, the winter cherry is known for its medicinal properties. It can be used as a diuretic, antiseptic and sedative in eastern medicine. The winter cherry has small amounts of poison that are not deadly, and can be quite bitter or unpleasant to the taste.

Because this exquisite plant is so beautiful, it is often used for decoration. Though widely unknown in the states, this species grows far and wide from Europe to Asia and its wide-spreading root system makes cultivation easy. Yes, the winter cherry can grow like a weed!

This plant has a lot of cultural significance in Japan. There is a deep symbolic meaning involved with the use of winter cherry seeds as an offering to souls during the Bon festival. There are many community marketplaces designated to this plant in July called hozuki-ichi. In a lot of ways the bright color, delicate nature and impermanence of the winter cherry embody Japanese culture. It’s no coincidence that it looks just like a lantern or a perfectly crafted piece of origami!

Bonsai: The Perfect Japanese Tree

If you have never seen a Bonsai, it is a beautiful and often asymmetrical tree grown in a tray and placed on a counter or table. They look like a miniature tree, and some are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Yes, it is just as cute as it sounds! Like most things uniquely Japanese, the bonsai traces its roots all the way back to the 6th Century in China. There is evidence of small Bonsais in art, stories and scrolls across the centuries and through the medieval period of Japan.

bonsai-316573_640

After WWII the Bonsai gained popularity and availability across the US when US soldiers would bring them back as souveniers. A number of books, festivals and exhibitions made the Bonsai easy to access all over the world. It evolved from a novelty or souvenir to a trendy status symbol and suddenly a must have decoration by the 1970s. Highlighted in the 1984 film Karate Kid, the Bonsai has been depicted in a variety of ways in the western world. There has always been a spiritual significance to Bonsai trees that conveys deep symbolism for meditation, harmony and peace. The careful maintenance of a Bonsai tree helps the cultivator create order to their thoughts and creates a balance in life.

These days, you can find Bonsai trees at most nurseries, farmers markets and even grocery stores. Their “Zen” and craftsmanship bring calm thoughts and bring peace to busy work offices and homes across America. With the Internet, you can browse through countless styles and prices to find a Bonsai that is right for you. It also makes a wonderful and unique living gift. Did we mention that bonsais are easy to care for and can be left in or out of doors? Yes, they are the perfect companion! Happy hunting!

 

Product of The Month: Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (NS-WAC10/18)

NS-WAC10WDThis September we would like to introduce our Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-WAC as the Zojirushi Product of The Month. This is a must have for students going back to college this fall. Its size will perfectly fit in your apartment or dorm room. It is made with a very durable dent resistant plastic body and now comes in a new color, Cool White.

This rice cooker is packed full with technology that allows the machine to “think” for itself making small adjustments in temperature to ensure perfectly cooked rice with every batch! The Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NS-WAC is also easy to clean…because doing the dishes doesn’t always have a high position on a student’s social calendar.

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/nswac

Unusual Seasons Yield Unusual Produce

Summer has been slow to get going this year. While June and July were lukewarm, August and September promise that summer heat we’ve all been craving. The markets are full of beautiful melons, sweet summer corn and multi-colored heirloom tomatoes. This time of year, all one really needs, is to chop up fresh vegetables, mix in a bowl and feast! The produce is so fresh and beautiful, it doesn’t need much else, and with this warm summer weather seeping into the fall months, it looks like we might be eating this well for some time to come!

As the seasons continue to surprise us — either due to global warming or simply a natural shift in the earth — the produce available each month is a new surprise. This year we’ve seen fresh peanuts in March, squash blossoms in December and a cherry season that never really happened because winter never found its chill in California. This phenomenon has not shaken, but inspired chefs all around the country to embrace change and work with what’s available. When you are shopping locally and seasonably, it’s a no brainer!

Vegetables

While summer now seems to be right where it should be, keep an eye out for unusual produce or missing options at the market this season.  Talk to your local farmers and show your support by purchasing a variety of options, above and beyond what you think you might need. It should provide inspired and creative meals all summer long! Happy cooking!

Kendama and Koma: Timeless Japanese Toys

Walk into any shop in Japan, and you are bound to find a section of traditional wooden toys. In between the origami paper, the kites and the summer kimono, you will find kendama and koma in the aisle for endless and imaginative summer fun. For those of you scratching your head, you are probably familiar with both kendama and koma – in fact, there is a good chance you have played with one at some point in your life.

Can you imagine that handmade wooden toy with two cups on the end, a spike in the middle and a ball attached to a string?  Are you starting to remember this game where the principle is to connect one object with the other? That is kendama! Ever played with a handmade wooden spinning top? What about one with a string? This is essentially koma.

h

Both toys are simple, handmade and date back hundreds of years. While they don’t offer the details and technology of modern-day video games and action figures, there is something to their simplicity and craftsmanship. Simple toys such as kendama and koma promote hand-eye coordination and leave plenty of room for imagination. Their basic design and simplistic decoration can act as a blank slate leaving children room to imprint their own thoughts and ideas on the experience. This is a type of play that is becoming fewer and far between in our modern day world.

Kendama and koma are easy to find and inexpensive on the internet. Most of them are hand-crafted and painted by Japanese artisans. Treat your child to the gift of imagination this summer with a special and simple new toy! Happy summer!

 

Summer Grub in Japan

August in Japan can be hot and humid! Warm days give way to beautiful summer evenings filled with fireworks, barbeque and other celebrations. Two common summer snack items in Japan are dango and takoyaki.  Although these two are different snacks, it is easy to lump them together as both are typically round and covered in a sticky sweet brown sauce. In fact, where you find one, you are likely to find the other.

mitrashi-dango-84005_640Dango is a popular street food offering in Japan. It is a grilled round dumpling made from rice flour and can be likened to mochi. You will commonly see the dumplings skewered and roasting on outdoor grills. Once roasted, they are flavored with either savory or sweet toppings. The savory mitarashi dango is covered with a sticky sweet soy sauce glaze. These glistening little balls are a must have at outdoor food fairs and festivals!

大阪5-たこ焼き-cropAlongside dango, you are likely to spot takoyaki at food courts and outdoor events.  Takoyaki does not mean grilled tacos in Japanese!  Tako is the word for octopus, and takoyaki is ball shaped puff made of wheat batter, octopus and tempura scraps. It is typically topped with a sticky Worcestershire based sauce glaze, mayonnaise and bonito flakes. It gets its round shape from a special takoyaki pan made of cast iron where it is rolled around until it becomes a perfectly browned a delicious ball of batter – think savory Danish pancakes.

Next time you are at your Japanese market or local festival, keep an eye out for these sticky round delicacies. See if you can tell them apart! And as always, report back to us. We would love to hear about your Japanese dining adventures both at home and out in the world. Happy eating!

Product of The Month: Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker (BB-PAC20)

As the summer begins to wind down, you know in a few weeks life is about to get busy again. Kids will soon be returning to school and you might find yourself having a shortage of time to prepare a great meal or snack for your family. Zojirushi has developed a wide range of products for people with active lifestyles.

IB_S_BASIC_COPYRIGHT =Our featured product of the month for August fits into that criteria. The Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker BB-PAC20 is an easy to use home appliance that adds convenience to any kitchen. With the capacity to bake a traditional sized 2-lb loaf of bread and the technology to make Gluten-Free products there are few limitations to what you can prepare.

With the Home Bakery Virtuoso® Breadmaker delicious snacks for the kids are simple to create and while you’re at it, why not arrive home to the smell of freshly baked bread? The cooking process is simple…add your ingredients…select the menu setting…and in a little over two hours you whole family can enjoy!

http://www.zojirushi.com/products/bbpac