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

Japanese brand rice cookers are generally priced higher than the other rice cookers.

You might have wondered what is so special about them and is it worth paying more for Japanese brand?

Zojirushi brand holds the top market share in Japan so I am going to compare their rice cookers to other cheaper non-Japanese rice cookers.

Simply speaking, Zojirushi company has a longer history of producing the rice cookers. It is a well-established company and celebrates its 105-year anniversary in 2023.

Japan is know for its craftmanship and 130 models of rice cookers are made in Osaka, Japan. Their products are developed under the strict quality standards and their top-of-the-line model “Nanbu Iron Kiwame Hagama” is assembled by hand by 46 skilled craftsmen. 1

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

When it comes to cooking rice, Zojirushi is trusted and loved by both new and repeated customers internationally over many years.

Now, let’s compare the specs of $20- $30 rice cooker to Japanese brand rice cooker.

$20
rice cooker
Japanese
rice cooker
Heating
source
Heating plate3 types
Micom,
IH,
Pressure IH
Year
first
available
19651979(Micom)
1988(IH)
1992(pressure IH)
Delay timerNoYes
Steam
vent cap
NoYes
Country
of origin
ChinaJapan
Fuzzy logic
technology
NoYes
Cooking option-
white rice
(regular,
softer,
harder)
NoYes

Heating source

The heating source of $20 rice cooker is located at the bottom of the cooker (the heating plate). It heats only the buttom portion of the inner pot so it is not good for cooking large batch of rice.

There are 3 types of Japanese rice cookers. They differ in the heating locations/types/powers and the price ranges. Let’s look at each type.

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

The pressure IH rice cooker is the top-of-the-line rice cooker and uses the most advanced technologies.

It uses the pressurized cooking and cooks rice evenly in a shorter time. It has more cooking options such as cake, bread, simmered dishes, and steamed dishes.

The IH rice cooker is equipped with the Induction Heating coil inside which gives the stronger heating power and help rice be cooked evenly.

Therefore, the large batch of rice can be cooked evenly. Rice taste more fluffy and tasty thanks to the strong heating power.

The micom rice cooker is equipped with the heater which is located at the buttom of the rice cooker. The heat is transferred to the entire rice pot and cooks rice.

Read this article for more details on the types of Japanese rice cookers!

Year first available

The heating technology for $20 rice cooker was invented in 1965. It is using the same heating technology invented over 50 years ago.

On the other hand, Japanese brand rice cooker has been developing the top-of-the-line rice cookers in pursuit of the cutting-edge technology over many years.

The micro computer (micom) rice cooker was released in 1979 and Japanese companies – Zojirushi, Tiger, Toshiba, Panasonic, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Sharp, and Iris Ohyama have been working hard and improving their products through competition over many years. Their endless efforts and Kaizen minds to make the best rice cookers will continue in the next many decades.

Delay timer

Most of Japanese rice cookers come with the delay timer option. You can set the timer in the morning and the delicious rice is already cooked and ready for dinner by the time you are home from the long working day! It is a great option for the busy household!

Steam vent cap

One of the disadvantages of $30 electric rice cookers is that it makes a mess depending on the amount of water or the different cooking conditions and sprays the starch off the lid.

The tip to prevent that mess is to rinse the rice prior to cooking but this will never happen to Japanese rice cookers.

Japanese rice cookers come with the steam vent cap. They are well-engineered and the right amount of the steam goes through this cap and it is removable for easy cleaning as well.

Country of origin

Some of Japanese rice cookers are made in Japan.

“Made in Japan” often stands for high quality, reliability, durability, and cutting-edge technology.

Click the below link to read more details about the micom cookers that are made in Japan!

Click the below links to read more details about the IH rice cookers that are made in Japan!

Click the below link to read more details about the pressure IH rice cooker that is made in Japan!

Fuzzy logic technology

Zojirushi micom rice cookers come with “fuzzy logic” technology.

Simply put, the fuzzy logic is capable of performing the detailed work that could only be done by human intuition and experience.

It can make fine adjustments to the cooking temperature and heating time to cook perfect rice every time!

If you are interested in learning more details about the fuzzy logic or neuro fuzzy logic technologies of Zojirushi rice cookers, please read this article!

Cooking option – white rice (regular, softer, harder)

Some models of Japanese rice cookers come with the options to cook rice in your preferred texture (regular, softer, or harder) without changing the amount of water.

Some multi-functional Japanese rice cookers can cook not only rice and soup (with steam/slow cooking options) but also bake cake too!

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

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