Why are Japanese rice cookers so expensive? Is it worth paying more?

Japanese brand rice cookers are often priced higher than other rice cookers on the market. You may be wondering what makes them so special, and whether the higher price tag is worth it.

When it comes to rice cookers, Zojirushi is a brand that stands out. The company holds the top market share in Japan, and for good reason. In this article, I will compare Zojirushi rice cookers to other, cheaper non-Japanese rice cookers.

One of the key factors that sets Zojirushi apart is their long history of producing rice cookers. The company is well-established, and in fact, will celebrate its 105-year anniversary in 2023. They have been perfecting the art of rice cooking for over a century, and this experience shows in the quality of their products.

Japanese craftsmanship is renowned around the world, and Zojirushi rice cookers are no exception. In fact, the company produces 130 different models of rice cookers in Osaka, Japan. Each of these products is developed under strict quality standards, ensuring that they will provide optimal performance and last for many years.

Zojirushi’s top-of-the-line model, the “Nanbu Iron Kiwame Hagama,” is a perfect example of their commitment to craftsmanship. This model is assembled by hand by 46 skilled craftsmen, ensuring that every detail is perfect.1

While Japanese brand rice cookers may be more expensive than other options, the quality and craftsmanship they offer is unmatched. If you want a rice cooker that will provide consistently delicious results for years to come, it’s definitely worth considering a Zojirushi.

Image Credit: 日本経済新聞 (http://nikkei.com)

When it comes to cooking rice, Zojirushi has earned the trust and loyalty of both new and repeat customers around the world for many years. Their commitment to quality and innovation has set them apart in the rice cooker market.

While a cheap rice cooker can be a budget-friendly option for basic rice cooking needs, a Japanese rice cooker offer more advanced features, better performance, and a longer lifespan. If you’re a frequent rice eater, particularly of different types of rice, investing in a Japanese rice cooker will be worth the cost in the long run!

Now, let’s take a look at how a typical $20 rice cooker compares to a Japanese brand rice cooker like Zojirushi.

rice cooker
rice cooker
Heating plate3 types
Pressure IH
19651979 (Micom)
1988 (IH)
1992 (pressure IH)
User interfaceAnalogDigital
Inner potAluminum
Stainless steel
non-stick coatings,
such as
platinum-infused coatings
ceramic coatings
Delay timer optionNoYes
Keep warm hoursUnknown12 hours
vent cap
of origin
Fuzzy logic
Cooking options:
White rice

Sushi rice,
GABA brown

Heating source

The heating source in a cheaper rice cooker is situated at the bottom, specifically on the heating plate. As a result, it only heats the bottom portion of the inner pot, making it unsuitable for cooking large quantities of rice.”

Japanese rice cookers come in three types, each varying in their heating locations, types, powers, and price ranges. Let’s examine each type!

  • Pressure IH (Induction Heating) Rice Cooker
  • IH (Induction Heating) Rice Cooker
  • Micom (Microcomputer) Rice Cooker

The top-of-the-line rice cooker is the pressure IH rice cooker, boasting the latest in advanced technology. Utilizing pressurized cooking, it cooks rice evenly in a shorter amount of time and offers a variety of cooking options including cake, bread, simmered dishes, and steamed dishes.

Equipped with an Induction Heating coil, the IH rice cooker delivers powerful heating, resulting in evenly cooked large batches of rice with a fluffy and delicious taste.

On the other hand, the micom rice cooker features a heater located at the bottom of the rice cooker, which transfers heat to the entire pot and cooks rice evenly.

For more in-depth information on the different types of Japanese rice cookers, be sure to read this article!

Year first available

The heating technology used in a cheaper rice cooker was invented in 1965 and has remained unchanged for over 50 years. In contrast, Japanese brand rice cookers have been at the forefront of developing cutting-edge technology for their top-of-the-line rice cookers for many years.

One example of this pursuit for advanced technology is the release of the micro computer (micom) rice cooker in 1979. Companies such as Zojirushi, Tiger, Toshiba, Panasonic, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Sharp, and Iris Ohyama have continuously improved their products through competition, driven by their Kaizen mindset.

This has resulted in inventing the IH (Induction Heating) rice cookers in 1988 and the pressure IH rice cookers in 1992. These innovations have further improved the cooking performance and quality of rice cookers. These efforts will undoubtedly continue for many decades to come, as Japanese companies strive to offer the best possible cooking experience for their customers!

Delay timer and Keep warm options

Many Japanese rice cookers are equipped with a delay timer option, allowing you to set the timer in the morning and have perfectly cooked rice ready for dinner by the time you return home from a long day at work. This convenient feature is particularly useful for busy households!

The keep warm function in a rice cooker is a feature that keeps the cooked rice at a warm temperature after the cooking process is complete. Once the rice has been cooked, the keep warm function automatically kicks in and maintains a warm temperature of around 140-150°F (60-65°C) in the rice cooker. This helps to preserve the quality and texture of the rice for a certain amount of time, usually several hours, without drying it out or overcooking it. The length of time the rice can be kept warm depends on the specific rice cooker and the amount of rice being kept warm. The keep warm function is a convenient feature for those who need to prepare rice ahead of time or for those who want to keep their rice warm until mealtime.

Steam vent cap

Image credit: www.amazon.com

Electric rice cookers priced at $30 or lower can create a mess when cooking, particularly if the amount of water or cooking conditions are not adjusted properly, resulting in starch spatters on the lid. While rinsing the rice before cooking can help alleviate this issue, Japanese rice cookers are designed to prevent this problem altogether. They feature a well-engineered steam vent cap that allows the appropriate amount of steam to escape during cooking. This cap is also removable for easy cleaning.

Country of origin

Many Japanese rice cookers are proudly made in Japan, a designation that is often associated with high-quality craftsmanship, superior reliability, exceptional durability, and state-of-the-art technology.

The craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into producing made-in-Japan rice cookers is second to none. Japanese engineers have a passion for creating the best products possible, and their kaizen mindsets drive them to continuously improve their work.

For those seeking the finest in rice cooker technology, click the links below!

Fuzzy logic technology

Zojirushi micom rice cookers feature advanced “fuzzy logic” technology. This innovative technology has the ability to replicate the nuanced decision-making skills and expertise of a seasoned chef. By making precise adjustments to the cooking temperature and heating time, fuzzy logic technology ensures that every batch of rice is cooked to perfection, every time.

For those interested in delving deeper into the specifics of fuzzy logic and its cutting-edge counterpart, neuro fuzzy logic, check out the article linked below.

Cooking options – White rice (regular, softer, harder), Sushi rice, GABA brown rice

Many Japanese rice cookers offer customizable rice cooking options, allowing you to achieve your preferred texture (such as regular, softer, or harder) without the need to adjust the water ratio. These options can include specialized settings for Sushi rice and GABA brown rice, providing a variety of cooking options to suit your specific needs and preferences.

Additionally, some multi-functional models offer a range of cooking options beyond rice and soup, including the ability to bake cakes using steam and slow cooking techniques.


In conclusion, Japanese rice cookers are expensive for a reason. They are made from high-grade materials, crafted with precision, and come with advanced features that make them stand out from other rice cookers on the market. If you’re in the market for a new rice cooker and are willing to invest a little more upfront, a Japanese rice cooker like Zojirushi is a smart choice that will pay off in the long run.

Reference: 1https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASHD22H1N_S6A120C1AA2P00/