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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

Fighting the Heat this July!

It is looking like the theme for this month is heat! We have looked into the Japanese tradition of fighting heat by eating eel as well as the practice of wearing lightweight yukata in the hot summer months. It’s fitting that this be the focus as this might be the hottest July ever here in the states! As we gear up for what may be an El Niño fall, we are still facing severe droughts and record highs in most of the country. Crops are drying up in California and people are being asked to conserve here and there when they can and we are just trying to keep cool in this crazy weather!

From our stainless steel vacuum products that will keep your cold drinks cool for hours, to our energy efficient electric appliances, we are so proud to offer items that are reusable, energy efficient or good for the planet. Plus, we know that you’d rather cut back from firing up that gas oven during the fiery month of July.

Like all things, this heat wave will eventually pass and the heavy rains of fall will soon be here. Until then, keep cool, enjoy home-brewed iced tea and cold rice salads! As always, we wish you a great month full of fun times and great food! Cheers!

 

Doyo No Ushi No Hi: A Day for Eating

Doyo No Ushi No Hi is a day devoted to one of our favorite pastimes—eating!  Eating what, you ask? This is a day dedicated to eating eel. Each year, the day falls in late July when the hot summer months leave people feeling drained and fatigued. In Japanese we call this feeling natsubate. It is believed that the nutritious and vitamin E rich eel can provide strength and stamina in getting through the heat wave.

Most commonly the eel is prepared in a style called kabayaki. This means the fish is split in half, dipped in a sweet soy sauce or tare and broiled or grilled. The custom of eating eel in this style during the hot summer months dates all the way back to the Edo period (1608-1868). Typically, kabayaki style eel is served on a bed of rice or as part of a bento box. You might also see this style of eel torn up and served in a mixed rice salad. However it’s served, it is sure to be delicious!

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Doyo No Ushi No Hi is one of our favorite holidays in Japan because it is all about eating! Even though we will be in our offices in Gardena, CA this year, that won’t stop us from celebrating  by preparing eel and rice in the traditional kabayaki style. Thanks to great markets, wonderful recipes and the wealth of information on the Internet, anyone can throw a Doyo No Ushi No Hi party this year, from anywhere in the world. You can purchase eel already prepared,  how convenient! We hope that you enjoy this special day with a dinner of eel to offer you strength during the scorching heat waves of summer. Happy cooking and happy eating!

 

Yukata: The Coolest Threads for Summer

Japanese summers are hot! They are sticky & humid, and a simple walk to the train can leave you soaking in sweat before you reach your destination. While it can be tough to get through the day in that kind of heat, there is a nice breezy way to help men and women stay cool when things heat up come July – the yukata.

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The yukata is a lightweight, unlined kimono made of cotton or synthetic fabric. A yukata can be worn by both women and men and are traditionally designed with floral patterns for women, and geometric patterns for men. Much like the silk kimono, young women and children will wear the brightest colors, and older women will stick to darker colors and simpler patterns. Even though yukata literally means bath or bathing garments, it is not uncommon to see men and women dressed in yukata during the hot summer months, and although the yukata dates back to the year 800, it has remained incredibly modern over the centuries.

Thanks to the web, yukata are now widely available around the world! If you can’t find one at your local Japanese village, check online shops. There are plenty of colors and patterns out there. These beautiful and airy robes can be worn around the house on a hot day or out into the world! Why not! If you do decide to don a yukata, be sure to let us know! We would love to see you dressed up in the summer’s greatest styles!

Jyanken (the game of paper, stone and scissors.)

You might be surprised to learn that one of the most popular exports from Asia is a game called Jyan Ken, otherwise known as Rock-Paper-Scissors. All over Japan you will find people young and old making decisions based on this ancient game.

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In Japan it can be taken to a whole new level with different variations of this fun activity. A Jyan Ken match between friends can have a quick resolution or they can spend a great deal of time due to various versions of the rules. If you would like to learn more here is a great link that explains the intricacies between the versions of the game in Japan.

http://www.tofugu.com/2012/07/06/japans-most-dangerous-game-rock-paper-scissors/

 

Product of The Month: The Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer (NP-GBC05)

For July we would like to highlight a fabulous rice cooker that has gotten a new look!

NP-GBC05XT

The Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-GBC05 has the same great functionality but now in a new color. This rice cooker is powered with IH + Micom technology which combines a unique heating feature that allows for precise temperature control. If you are looking for a rice cooker made with superior quality this one is it! This machine can do much more than cook rice. You will also enjoy all of the various recipes you can create with this luxurious appliance.

http://zojirushi.com/products/npgbc

Summer is Finally Here!

Dear friends, it is a pleasure to be celebrating yet another summer with you! School is nearly out and the season for grilling, long hikes and beach BBQs is upon us. We have had such a wonderful time packing up our stainless mugs and stainless lunch jars to enjoy lunch outdoors, on the beach or in the mountains. This is a great time of year for fun in the sun.

While we do hope you will have plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry, we also hope you’ll find some time to rest and relax this season. There’s nothing quite like warm June sunshine to get one in the mood to sit by a pool and do absolutely nothing, eh? And that’s where we come in — our line of rice cookers and gourmet products is here to simplify your life. We hope that by being able to throw meat and veggies on our gourmet grills and roasters, dinner might be that much simpler.

Between Zojirushi products and all of the fresh, seasonal produce available this time of year, we have no doubt that you will be eating well all summer long! As always, we encourage you to shop local and shop fresh. Local and seasonal ingredients are the secret to tasty & healthy food. Whether you plan to spend your summer traveling, hiking or doing nothing on the beach, we will be there with you every step of the way. Here’s to a long and happy summer filled with good food, family and great friends! Cheers!

The Traditional Japanese Wedding

Anyone here ever been to a traditional style Japanese wedding? Don’t expect white dresses, white cake and bouquets! A traditional Japanese wedding is a magical and beautiful ceremony that is nothing like its western counterpart. The traditions involved with a traditional Japanese wedding are what make this a beautiful event to participate in.

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For starters, you can trade in your white gown for a beautiful kimono. That’s right, Japanese brides often don layers of fine silk in the form of a traditional kimono that’s tied so tight, a trip to the bathroom would not be an easy feat! Brides are given a tsuno-kakushi which is a white headdress to wear. Their faces are painted white like a geisha to signify their maiden status and their feet will be elegantly covered in white tabis that are a kind of fancier sock!

Japanese weddings can take hours upon hours between the traditional Shinto ceremony to a long kaiseki style dinner, and then of course dancing and singing. A drinking game of rock, paper scissor might also serve as a way to bring families together. If you happen to catch the groom drinking from a small cup he’s sipping sake to ‘seal’ the marriage vows.

While the traditional style weddings have been the norm in Japan for thousands of years, more and more couples are opting for western style weddings – some even have both!  With the western idea of what a “perfect” wedding should be, what do you think about the traditional style wedding? Would you like one? Let us know!

 

Origami: An Ancient Art Form

The word origami means paper folding in Japanese, and that is exactly what it is. The ancient art of paper folding or origami has been around since the 17th century. In the mid 1900s, origami popularized outside of Japan, and it has been picking up steam ever since. Today American book and craft shops are filled with how-to books on origami with themes like flowers, dinosaurs and even dolls! Just remember that for it to really be origami, it must be sculpted through folds and nothing else. No cutting or gluing accepted!

There are certain folding techniques that make up most sculptures. The most basic figures will all start out in almost the same way. While you can fold any square sheet of paper in the style of origami, traditionally origami is made out of origami paper. Origami paper is usually small in size, high in quality with beautiful designs on ether side. Some origami paper is as beautiful as a silk kimono.

June 2014 Blog

As origami moves into the 21st century, it has acquired a modern edge.
From classic origami such as a bird that flies or a balloon that can be blown up, to modular origami that must be connecting with other origami to be complete, there is no end to what you can create.

In this modern day “renaissance” of origami, the possibilities are truly endless. These days you can find paper that sparkles and technique books on almost anything you can imagine. For the still hand and the quiet mind, origami will provide hours of fun. If precision is not your strong suit, origami can still be a great time. So get out there and try! Happy folding!

 

Product of The Month: Indoor Electric Grill (EB-DLC10)

Don’t let unpredictable summer weather squash your outdoor cookout. If you need to bring the grill indoors then this will become your MVP (Most Valuable Product)

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A perfect gift for Dad on Father’s Day or for any grill master in the house, this stylish Indoor Electric Grill features a 1,500-watt, high powered heating element and a 14-7/8″ x 10-5/8″ extra large grilling surface. You can grill steaks, burgers and veggies all at the same time! The grill plate is protected with maximum coverage and operation is dependent on proper setup and installation, making it safe and easy to clean!

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

May is the Month for Celebrations

We are thrilled to welcome the month of May! The weather is great, the days are long and summer is so close, we can almost taste it! Most of all, May is the month of Golden Week, a wonderful holiday anticipated and celebrated each year in Japan.

golden-week-Shibazakura
From the end of April through the first week of May, there are 5 National Holidays that we celebrate in Japan. During this week, most Japanese people have paid time off and companies will close completely. It is the longest vacation period of the year for most Japanese people, a time for rest, and great celebration!

This is a popular time for local as well as international travel, and train stations and airports are often busier than ever during this week. If you don’t make plans well in advance, it can be difficult to make reservations during Golden Week. While May is a beautiful time to visit Japan, we do not recommend visiting during Golden Week. Things are very busy and crowded.

Golden week ends with a bang – the final holiday of the week is called, Kodomono-hi or children’s day. It is a day to celebrate children and respect their wishes. It wasn’t until 1948 that the government declared Kodomono-hi a national holiday and insisted that we take this day to express gratitude toward children. Will you be celebrating this year?

Flying with Giants at the Yokaichi Kite Festival

Remember the old days of homemade boxcar races? The Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival is the Japanese equivalent to a classic American boxcar race. Imagine a perfectly clear spring day in Japan. The sun is shining; the bright blue sky is water colored with a few soft white clouds, there’s a band, a BBQ and kites. Giant kites!

Each year on the fourth Sunday of every May, the Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival is held in Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan. It’s festival that dates all the way back to the Edo period, when new parents would fly kites for their children’s health. Today, the Kite Festival is treated as a competition between different teams. Each kite, called Oodako, is a work of art. Teams design, create and decorate their kite with local bamboo, rice paper, silk and paint. Much like you might do to your precious boxcar! The only difference is that these kites are HUGE! The smaller ones measure in at about 40 feet wide and 50 feet tall. Can you imagine handling such a thing?

The competition is among teams because it takes so much manpower to get one of these things off the ground. If you get the opportunity to attend a kite festival in Japan, you will be amazed by the art, craftsmanship and teamwork filling the skies.

KITE-1369727085-60476While competitors work together to get their creations off the ground, amateurs and onlookers will experiment with smaller creations of their own. A perfect blue sky filled with color and art will be quite the spectacle for all.

Kites have been around in Japan for thousands of years, but it’s only fairly recent that they have been used recreationally. Traditionally, kites were flown for religious festivals, military use and even fishing. Today, there are over 500 different kinds of kites in Japan and over 50 different kite festivals.

Like most things in Japan, kite making and kite flying has become an art form. It’s also an excuse to get outside and get together with friends and family. Flying a kite of this size, or any for that matter requires focus and attention, and is always lots of fun! This spring and summer, experiment with your own kite projects. Try making your own, or just enjoy a nice day outdoors with a store bought kite. What a great way to spend an afternoon! Enjoy!

Tonkatsu: An Easy Japanese Dinner

Walk through any underground train station in Japan and you are destined to see as many Tonkatsu restaurants as there are ramen shops. Glittering in each window is a plastic version of each meal set, or “setto” as it might be called in Japanese. Pork cutlet, Pork Cutlet with Salad, Pork Cutlet with Salad and Soup and so on…

40_1Tonkatsu is simply a pork cutlet breaded with panko and deep-fried to a rich golden brown. It’s often served over a bed of shredded cabbage with a sweet dark sauce for dipping. Most lunch sets will include rice, soup, pickles and a little slice of lemon. It’s a popular dish to grab after a long day’s work or enjoy as a working lunch. In the states, you might be able to find some version of Tonkatsu at your local Japanese market or in the form of “chicken katsu” at your neighborhood sushi joint.

Better yet, you can always try making your own! There are many recipes and video tutorials for this classic dish online. We have highlighted one from The Food Network http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/japanese-style-crispy-pork-recipe.html – Happy cooking!

Product of The Month: Stainless Mug (SM-SA36/48/60) 

128.2For the Zojirushi Product of The Month for May we would like to feature our Stainless Mug SM-SA. This is a great product for anyone who plans to be on the go this summer. Our proprietary technology works effortlessly to keep your cold beverages cold. Perfect for a simple way to enjoy your chilled beverages wherever you happen to be. This new product features a more compact design while maximizing the holding capacity. The lid is built with a safety lock that helps prevents accidental leaks and spills. It also comes in four stylish colors!

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

Welcoming April with Zojirushi

 

SW-GA Minestrone (1)

It seems as though we were just gearing up for cold weather and holiday parties, and suddenly spring has sprung as if overnight. Time seems to be flying by faster and faster with heavy homework at school, busy days at work and weekends that pass by in a flash of sports games and grocery shopping. It’s amazing we even find time to eat!

Much like the New Year, spring is a time for new beginnings and new life. It’s a time to shed the habits and clutter that spent the winter in our homes and make way for the new. If you are anything like us, then you must enjoy a good deep clean this time of year. Amidst the busy days of modern life and spring-cleaning, don’t forget to slow down and share a nice meal with family and friends.

At Zojirushi, we understand how hectic life can get. That’s why we spend years developing products that will simplify your life. Our hope is that if you can worry less about what’s going on in the kitchen, you can focus more on what’s happening at the table. At the end of the day, the table is where we all come together; it’s where for an hour or so, we can forget the pressures of the day and enjoy each other’s company. So please, eat! Please, drink! Please, enjoy this spring with loved ones! There is always something worth celebrating! Cheers, Zojirushi.

Japanese Toys: Where Art and Craft come Together

Have you ever noticed a Japanese toy at a museum or at your local Japanese store? Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it’s folk art, high art or serious craft. Some toys in Japan have been around for centuries and stand the test of time. Their design is built to last and their simplicity is built for the imagination. Something we rarely get to use in this age of social media and video games!

Takeuma (竹馬), pronounced ta-keh-ou-ma, for example are Japanese bamboo stilts! They are simple to make, and most variations are strong enough to hold a 6-foot, 200-pound person! They are made simply by binding take(竹) (bamboo) together. Children would play by tying a string to the roots and mounting this as if on an uma(馬) (horse). Making your own toys! Now there’s an idea.

Taketombo

Another classic Japanese toy that has found many incarnations in the states is taketombo(竹とんぼ), pronounced ta-keh-tom-boh, or bamboo-copter. This is a bamboo toy helicopter that flies when its shaft is spun. It functions like a spinning top, but in the air. The taketombo originated in China in the year 400 B.C., and is still commonly found in most American toy stores! Can you think of anything else in a toy store that’s been around since the year 400B.C.?

Just like takeuma, making bamboo-copter is fairly easy, but it might be simpler to just buy one. In any case, you should check this ancient idea out. Surprise the children around you with the gift of simplicity and imagination! Happy playing!

Japanese Children Welcome School in April

In Japan, April is the time for a new school year to begin. That’s right, warm spring weather and fragrant cherry blossoms mark the new academic year. It’s hard to imagine going “back to school” without crisp fall apples and leaves on the ground eh?

Going back to school is more than just packing a brown bag and strapping on a backpack in Japan. In fact, each April, schools hold an “Entrance Ceremony” for new students. The entrance ceremony is a time for new students to contemplate the year ahead. It also gives shy or young new students a chance to be welcomed by their older schoolmates.

This ceremony is often held in a gym or an auditorium where older students and parents sit to welcome the incoming class as they march in for applause. The principal will usually speak along with the homeroom teachers and older student, as well as an incoming student. New students are then led back to their homerooms where they receive textbooks and more information on the year to come.

Sounds a bit different than the all-American way of starting school? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Product of The Month: Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle (EA-DCC10)

EA-DCC10We would like to highlight the Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle (EA-DCC10). This is a very versatile appliance that can make cooking easy and interactive. It features an extra large cooking surface and it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This product is ideal for tabletop cooking. Given the extra large cooking surface and a large lid, sautéing or cooking for large groups can be done quickly with no mess.
http://www.zojirushi.com/products/eadcc

Curious to see what you could make with this appliance? Check out all the amazing recipes we have for our electric griddles.

http://www.zojirushi.com/user/scripts/user/prod_recipe_list.php?prod_category_id=4

March: The Month for Inspiration from the Garden

PansiesAt Zojirushi, welcoming March means welcoming spring. It is a time for new life, fresh produce and original ideas in the kitchen. After a long winter, the time is right to open the doors and windows, and allow new dishes onto our tables and into our hearts. Local markets are abundant with fresh peas, baby lettuce, carrots and a variety of sweet fruit. Things like mandarin oranges, fresh pears, pineapples and mangoes make fixings for delicious breakfast sides, sweet salad toppings and healthy desserts. This is a great time to play with local produce and creativity in the kitchen.

As you know, we always test our products and recipes to ensure the best quality and function for our customers. That being said, don’t feel tied to our recipes. Use them as a guide, or as a map to get you started, and then remake your own. Use produce that are available to you, and never worry too much about getting it just right. The most important ingredient you’ll need is your confidence and creativity.

Have a wonderful March, filled with delicious food and happy memories. We love hearing from you and want to see how you utilize our products and recipes in your daily life. Please share ideas, pictures and stories on our Facebook page. There’s nothing we love more than hearing from you! Cheers!

Hinamatsuriひな祭り): A Day for Celebrating the Girls in your Life

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time for Hinamatsuri again. It seems it was just yesterday that we were celebrating last year’s holiday. Hinamatsuri, also called Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day, is a special day in Japan. Each year, on March 3rd, families get together and celebrate the girls in their lives wishing them health, happiness and all the best wishes.

For this special day, ornamental dolls called Hina ningyo (ひな人形) are displayed over a platform covered with red felt at homes. These dolls represent the emperor, empress, attendants and musicians in traditional court attire during the Heian period (794 – 1192). The number of dolls and steps vary, but the emperor and the empress is always placed at the top tier.

Colorful foods and drinks are also a significant part of this celebration. Hina-arare (colorful bite-sized rice crackers coated with sugar) and hishi-mochi (diamond shaped rice cake in a layer of 3 colors: pink for peach flowers, white for snow and green for new growth) are placed with the dolls. Chirashizushi, also known as Gomoku sushi (a “scattered” sushi), ushiojiru (a salt based soup with clams), and shiro-zake (white fermented rice wine) are other common items served during this celebration.

Zojirushi Gomoku Sushi Recipe: http://zojirushi.com/recipes/-i-gomoku-sushi-i-

Takikomi-Gohan copy

Ohagi – The Perfect Treat for Spring!

Ohagi (pronounced oh-hah-ghee) is a delicious, traditional Japanese dessert. It consists of a ball of coarse sweet rice covered with a layer of adzuki bean paste or kinako, roasted soybean flour. Typically rice is soaked for 6-12 hours prior to cooking and is prepared similar to mochi. They are commonly eaten during higan periods which are around the spring and autumn equinox. Another type of ohagi is inverted, with the rice on the outside and beans on the inside; these are often coated with a layer of kinako.ohagi

This traditional dessert has been around in Japan for centuries. Ohagi is fun to make with your children and even more fun to eat! If you have not made a Japanese dessert before, this is a great dessert to try!

Product of the Month: Stainless Steel Food Jar (SW-GA36)

SW-GA36

The Zojirushi Product of the Month for March is the NEW Stainless Steel Food Jar SW-GA36. This product features a new design that looks great and is easy to use! The new tapered shape with flat interior design makes eating and drinking easy, but also easy to clean. It also comes with a removable mouth ring to make it easier to eat and drink from!

Ideal for holding hot or cold meals for hours, th

The new shape with three new colors, Avocado Green, Coral Orange, and Café Brown, this is one stylish way to take a delicious meal on the go.e vacuum insulation can keep temperature of the food for up to 6 hours. A durable SlickSteel® stainless steel interior resists corrosion and repels stains. Like all Zojirushi vacuum insulated products we back the Stainless Steel Food Jar with a 5 year warranty on heat retention.

http://zojirushi.com/products/swga