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Elephant Mark

Zojirushi. I love the simplicity of the individual syllables and the complexity of the whole word. Zo. Ji. Ru. Shi. Like its name, my Zojirushi stainless steel mug is both simple and complex. Its minimal lines made it my favourite object for gesture drawing (my classmates drew their hands or fabric or something equally intimidating). Its array of features compels me to ignore the army of travel mugs in my cupboard. At a push of a button the lid flips 180 degrees in 0.8 seconds on a strong spring and locks into place, no dribbles escape the lid, the mouthpiece is comfortable and easy to clean, and the liquid inside (for me it’s coffee) stays hot for an unnaturally long time.

The Ichikawa Brothers Trading Company was founded in 1918 in Osaka, Japan after developing their own vacuum insulation technology which set the standard at the time. The Ichikawa Brothers Trading Company became Kyowa Manufacturing in 1948 and they finally settled on the name Zojirushi Corporation in 1961.

Zojirushi means “elephant mark” in Japanese. Indeed my flask has a tiny elephant as part of the lockup which I just realized never made it into my gesture drawings. The elephant symbolizes strength, intelligence and familiarity.

The Zojirushi company manufactures products that are “high in quality and attractive in design” such as rice cookers, electric kettles and electric water boilers (these are different machines, believe me), refrigerators, sesame seed grinders, bread makers, and my non-electric (though I wonder if there’s a tiny heating element in there somewhere) stainless steel mug.

I was surprised last summer when I brought my new used car home to discover my Zojirushi mug and car are so close in colour that I dare say they are identical. Beyond the colour, I am curious about the actual paint used on my mug. I wonder if it is car paint because in its four years of being tossed about in my bag with the standard collection of jaggedy contents it has remarkably few scratches. There are three scratches for a total length of 4.6 mm. One of those scratches was from the time I dropped it on concrete and it bounced a little and rolled over gravel. You know, in super slow motion. It is well coated.

Since I was very happy with my stainless steel mug I looked at Zojirushi’s other products. The reviews for their rice cooker seemed a little over the top. How much of an improvement could there be to cooked rice? Yes, I am the proud owner of a Zojirushi rice cooker. It seemed ridiculously expensive at the time and I felt a little suckered before it arrived. But I can attest it makes excellent rice. It plays the Mary Had a Little Lamb tune when it’s ready and makes me smile every time. I am just as thrilled with my rice cooker as I am with my stainless steel mug.

“To improve customers’ quality of life through innovative technology” indeed. Thank you, Zojirushi.

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