Toshiba’s rice cooker goes black to basics

In crowded cities such as Tokyo, people learn to live with a lack of space. But this apparent limitation can also stimulate creativity. For example, since it is unusual for homes in Japan — especially apartments — to have ovens installed, there are even rice cookers on the market these days that cook bread too!

Toshiba will introduce its new RC-10ZWH rice cooker in mid-January. The device can cook up to 5.5 go (go are units for measuring rice), or roughly 860 grams, of the Japanese staple.

What’s unique about this cooker is its special charcoal function, which brings an authentic natural flavor out of the rice. It also allows you to choose the texture of the rice, from crisp to chewy, to match your dish. The RC-10ZWH is likely to be to be priced at around ¥140,000.


Tokyoites chow down with Line Wow

Line Wow is a food delivery service that runs in conjunction with the popular Line messaging app. The “Wow” part is supposed to come from its concept of delivering surprising experiences — specifically, high-quality food right to your doorstep.

Line Wow has been tested in Tokyo’s Shibuya area since late November, but in response to increasing demand, the service has now expanded its target area to some parts of Minato Ward, meaning it is now available for those working in office buildings such as Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. There are six participating restaurants so far, including Ozaki in Azabu-Juban and Niko in Hiroo, with some establishments boasting Michelin stars.

Until the end of January, users can place orders for just one person instead of the usual minimum of three, an offer the developers hope will spur more people to try the app out.


A more discreet air purifier

If you struggle with pollen allergies or have kids, no doubt you have considered getting a purifier to keep the air at home fresh. But the problem with these appliances is that they are usually bulky and take up a lot of space.

It seems Muji feels your pain, and so it came up with the new MJ-AP1, codeveloped with Balmuda, an electronics manufacturer famous for its sleek, simple designs.

The MJ-AP1 claims to be able to freshen up the air lingering above an area as wide as 30 tatami mats, and can be set to auto mode, which purifies the air automatically, or jet cleaning mode, which works extra fast.

Muji’s air purifier is available for ¥39,000 at Muji stores or online at Muji.net.


It’s a three-way power-up

From smartphones to tablets and computers, we are surrounded by a variety of devices every day. With wearables like Fitbit coming on the market and growing interest in the IoT (Internet of Things) movement, the number of devices we rely can only increase.

When all this happens, we need to figure out a way to charge these gadgets. There are wireless charging solutions, such as Cota, under development, but until then, there’s this portable charger manufactured by Sanwa.

The newly released charger is equipped with a 23,000 mAh battery that can charge a laptop, tablet and smartphone all at once. The portable charger, released earlier this month, is available for ¥15,800 from Sanwa’s online shop.


Make and send New Year’s cards via an app

It’s that time of the year when Japanese get to grips with nenga-jō, the postcards sent out to herald the new year. These greetings traditionally take the form of real postcards, but recently people have begun use email or to simply post comments on Facebook.

But it is always nice to receive something by mail, or so reckons Japanese firm Digital Post, which has released an iOS app (Android coming soon) that enables you to design your own nengajō and send them out as postcards. On the Akeome (Happy New Year) app, you can choose a design template and use your own photos for the postcard. Nenga-jō can be sent by snail mail through the app for ¥150 each.


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