The Japanese Rice Cooker
Japanese rice cookers have dominated the rice cooker market from the time they were first introduced, up until today. They are nearly as identified with Japanese culture as the sakura or cherry blossom. This is not surprising given the fact that the Japanese invented the modern rice cooker, developing it from it’s rudimentary beginnings in The Japanese Imperial Army in 1937 through the introduction of the first commercially successful model introduced by Toshiba in 1956. The first rice cookers made in Japan had no automatic turn-off, and required constant monitoring while cooking rice. You can read our article The History of the Rice Cooker for more information on the development of the Japanese rice cooker.
Today, Japanese rice cookers continue to be the most popular rice cookers. Their is good reason for their continuing dominance of the rice cooker market. Their rice cooker brands have a well deserved reputation for quality, good design, ease of use and durability. The most popular Japanese rice cooker brands in the US are Zojirushi rice cookers, Panasonic and Sanyo rice cookers. In Japan, most households have either a Zojirushi rice cooker or a Tiger brand.
Zojirushi rice cookers are considered by many to be the best rice cooker brand. The focus of the Zojirushi Corporation in recent years has been to focus primarily on kitchen appliances while both Sanyo and Panasonic have a diverse product range of consumer electronics. Zojirushi, while still offering affordable rice cookers without all the bells and whistles, offers top of the line rice cooker models with a variety of features and settings.
Sanyo rice cookers offer the widest diversity in their line of rice cookers. From a basic 3.5 cup rice cooker to the Sanyo ECJ-S35K with a bread cooking function or a rice cooker that can cook tofu the Sanyo EC J-HC 100S rice cooker.
Panasonic rice cookers are at the lower end of the spectrum offering more basic quality rice cookers at an affordable price.
Just among these three Japanese rice cooker brands there are a wide range of models and you should easily be able to find a rice cooker to suit your needs. If you are considering buying a new rice cooker, take a look at our Tips on Buying a Good Rice Cooker. Also take a look at our rice cooker reviews where we review Sanyo, Panasonic and Zojirushi rice cookers in addition to many other rice cooker brands.