The Japanese are brilliant. The Zojirushi is just another proof.
Growing up in Iran, we had a ranking system for all products that were imported from various countries. The Japanese always and without exception ranked the highest. It did not matter if it were clothing, electronics, house-hold items or a car battery. Their brand was universally invincible. You would not even need to worry about appliance repairs if you had a Japanese brand in your hand! No one dared argue the quality or functionality of a Japanese product. If a product were Made in Japan, it had it made for life, no pun, no fuss. The Japanese brand name enjoyed infallible fame among the Iranians for as long as I can remember.
Over the years, the genius of Japanese products has only been re-affirmed to me through my travels to the Land of the Rising Sun. The excruciatingly long flights to Tokyo can sometimes be nauseating but so well worth every minute, because I know that what awaits me at the end of this journey is not going to disappoint. I have dubbed Japan a different planet from ours because the Japanese live in a fascinating out-of-this-world bubble that only they find ordinary. Four indelibly memorable trips later, Japan still holds countless mysteries and wonders for me, but one thing is for sure: The genius of their Zojirushi hot water heaters is blatantly clear and ridiculously simple.
We found this small and indispensable device in every hotel room during our stays, from the New Otani Tokyo to the 5-star Park Hyatt Tokyo to Kyoto’s Granvia hotel to Osaka’s small hotel by the train station. Getting used to the Zojirushi is like getting used to having a cell phone or a car; while a great life without both is highly possible, it becomes extremely impractical and borderline foolish to even consider. In this post, I am compelled to tell you just why!
What is a Zojirushi?
In short, it is most recognized brand of a Japanese product for a hot water boiler or heater, with ready dispensable water on the go. Simple as it sounds, this small device can surprisingly improve your life, your cooking efficiency and style, your eating and drinking habits, and your performance throughout your day. The Zojirushi accomplishes all this with the quiet presence of always having instant hot water ready to for you, and leaves you to wonder how much can that really matter. Heaps!
I purchased my first and only Zojirushi immediately upon our first return trip from Japan in early 2004. The unit we purchased that day has made hot water for the last 5+ years without a single failure. While I disconnected it during vacations when it would not be used, it has been used extensively on a daily basis otherwise, and the reliability and predictability of this product has not disappointed once.
How does it work?
You fill the container with cold or luke-warm tap water. You should ideally use filtered water for best tasting results; I filter my water using a Brita pitcher. You then set one of two available temperatures, 203 or 198 Fahrenheit. The latest models of Zojirushi have up to 3 temperatures to choose from. This is to give you options so you can have your green teas at the right temperature (under boiling) versus your Oolong or black teas which require boiling temperatures. After setting the temperature, you let the Zojirushi do its magic and bring water to boil at your desired setting. Depending on the size of the Zojirushi and amount of water, it can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes for water to come to boil at desired temperature. Then it stays at that temperature all day and night and week long until used or discarded. Hot water is ready and stays ready!
To pour the water, you push a button to unlock the Zojirushi dispenser and another to dispense the hot water. You can add more water immediately after dispensing some in order to always keep it full, or let it run very low before filling it back up. In either case, the new mix of water comes to boil right away. A sweet melody plays in the house letting you know the water is ready. To switch between temperatures at any point in time, you do just that – use the buttons to set it and switch. A few minutes later, it plays the same melodic sound to announce water is ready at the new temperature. Then you can repeat this great cycle. Over and over. Again and again!
Best uses for Zojirushi:
I am sure you like me and everyone else feel the race against time in the over-packed days of the weeks and months. We also know that sometimes, we take short-cuts which we should avoid. Having this Zojirushi has been the opposite; it is the short-cut that is brilliant with nothing of your life to yield in return, only benefits to reap. Aside from making delicious green tea in Tokyo to go with my sushi dinner in the hotel room (above), I share here with you some of the prominent ways I live better now thanks to my Zojirushi:
- Making Tea: I am a tea fanatic, and drinking my Oolong – Iron Goddess of Mercy – with my raw honey is my healthy daily obsession. I have a dozen variety of loose tea leaves at home. Making tea the right way is essential to my health and never ever having to boil hot water for making my cups of tea during the busiest hours of the day is invaluable. Also, because I use filtered water combined with the Zojirushi, the taste of my tea has noticeably improved. While I gladly wait for my tea to steep, I refuse to scrounge for the hot water kettle and go through the motions of bringing water to boil every single time I want tea. Also the Oolong tea is likely to over-burn with very hot water. Having the 203 controlled temperature is ideal and key to diffusing the aroma and flavor of tea.
I just can’t say enough about my love of Oolong tea, but I’ve found someone who speaks much more eloquently about it! For information on the wonders of Oolong, as well as some recipes, check out Jesse’s article 15 Health Benefits of Oolong Tea, According to Science (+5 Delicious Recipes).
- Topping your Espresso: When making the Americano or other types of coffee drinks with your espresso machine, you always need ready hot water to top off the coffee. Having the instant hot water ready to go is priceless. The Espresso machines may keep hot water at different temperatures if they even have such a dispenser.
- Making Soups: I cannot stand the taste of water that is brought to boil in the microwave. There is a smell and taste to it that robs me of the true taste of my food and drinks. I use my Zojirushi in making instant miso soups or other meals in a bind without cooking or microwave.
- Cooking with already boiled water: If you do a lot of cooking, as does my budding chef of a husband, you know having hot water handy goes a long way. For instance, my husband pours the hot water over uncooked Asian noodles to precook them just right and then uses the boiling water to steam vegetables simultaneously. He also lets the saffron soak in hot water for a few hours for the perfect Persian rice dish and there are many, many other impulsive ways to optimize his cooking.
- Defrosting and thawing frozen vegetables: Anything to avoid defrosting in the microwave! Dispensing hot water into a bowl to quickly help packaged frozen vegetables adds heaps of efficiency to your cooking and food preparation.
- Washing out tough stains: If my dishwasher won’t get it clean, my Zojirushi will! Having instant hot water in washing away some tough food stains from the pots saves time and water!
A genius mainly strives on simplicity and authenticity. We see it every day. How simple an idea or a solution or an answer seems after when we learn it. How practical. How common sense. Maybe there is a lesson here. That perhaps we complicate our lives and look for efficiency and comfort in the wrong places. Perhaps the simplicity of the function this brilliant Zojirushi adds to our daily life can be a symbol of how easily we can eliminate wasted time and effort from our lives. How mindfully we can create space, openness, and room for proficiency, creativity and fulfillment.