From Thermoses to 100 Years in service! We asked Zojirushi for their recommendations for this summer!
Water bottles will become an important item during the upcoming season, but did you know that more people are using different water bottles depending on their activities? Today, we asked Mr. Yamamoto (right) and Mr. Yamada (left) from the pioneer of Japanese water bottles celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018, the Zojirushi Mahobin, about recent trends and recommendations for water bottles. Once you read this, you might start to want one of those progressive water bottles, too!
A rooted bring-your-own-thermos bottle culture. The key word from now on is "multiuse".
- Thank you for accepting our interview.
Thank you for having us.
- Pardon my abruptness, but do either of you both use reusable water bottles?
Of course I do! How am I to know what's good and bad about them if I don't?
Shingo Yamamoto, Third Department Sub Manager
I have five water bottles, each for a different situation.
Shuhei Yamada, Public Relations
- What?! Five?!
Yes [laughs]. It's also because of my work, but it's convenient to change them depending on the purpose.
- Can you give an example of how you change them depending on the purpose?
For example, I use different bottles for coffee and tea.
To change between five bottles like Mr. Yamada, that is quite hardcore, but there are more and more people using several thermos bottles. Everyone has their own way of changing between different bottles. We recommend changing them depending on the temperature and aroma of the drink. There are many different types of bottles to choose from.
ー- I see! So you can change the thermos bottles according to different types of drinks.
Actually, everyone having at least one bottle and bringing their own thermos bottle around has only been happening for the last few years. It was still a new idea about 10 years ago. We saw water bottles as something that kids brought to field trips and sports or a large one that a family brought to share.
- Each person having one bottle is common now, but now that you mention it, it used to be just like that.
It began to change between 2000 and 2005. Plastic bottles became more common, and everyone realized how easy it was to drink straight from the bottle. That is why Zojirushi and the rest of the water bottle industry decided to promote the bring-your-own thermos bottle movement.
To start it off, Zojirushi began the Bring-Your-Own Thermos Bottle Campaign in 2006. One of their promotions included Tea Service Spots on which they worked with privately-owned cafes and Japanese tea shops.
- Tea Service Spots?
If you bring your bottle and order your drink at cafes that are registered as a Tea Service Spot, they serve their drink to your bottle. Unlike paper or plastic cups, the bottles will keep your drink hot or cold, allowing you to enjoy it in its best taste longer. There is an increasing number of stores that have joined this movement, and it is now spreading nation-wide. We also set up Tea Service Spots in popular outdoor summer music festival areas where we provide free drinks to those who bring their own thermos bottles.
- So the current "bring-your-own thermos bottle" culture is rooted in this kind of campaigns.
Yes, our efforts paid off!
Our aim from now on is to provide thermos bottles that are convenient for "multiuse" and to respond to our users personalized needs. For example, the design. Thermos bottles are now available in many designs, so that you are sure to find the one you like.
Being obsessive in design to make "convenience" a "standard".
- Could you introduce the specific Zojirushi water bottle recommendations?
Yes, our first recommendation is the SM-SD model from the "TUFF Stainless Mug Series", which has been popular since it's release. You can open the lid with a single touch!
Zojirushi Thermos Stainless Mug "TUFF" Left: SM-SD36 ¥2,980 + tax / Right: SM-SD48 ¥3,280 + tax
- Could you explain its features?
First feature that I would like to point out is that the "TUFF Stainless Mug Series" is very light and compact. The 0.48-liter type is about 205 grams, 0.6-liter type about 235 grams, and the smallest one at 0.36 liters is about 170 grams. If you haven't used a water bottle in a long time, you will be surprised how light it is!
- Wow, it really is light! But can it keep the drinks hot or cold considering how compact it is?
Yes, please be assured. It insulates very well [laughs]. After six hours on room temperature of 20°C ± 2°C, the 0.48-liter type keeps the hot water which was poured in at 95°C ± 1°C at not less than 71°C. The cold water poured in at 4°C ± 1°C is kept below 8°C after six hours. It depends on the environment, but if you pour iced coffee with some ice in the morning, the ice might still be there in the evening.
- Impressive. You get to keep your drink at its best for a long time!
In addition, the bottle itself is resistant to condensation. If you have a cold drink on your desk in a plastic bottle, its drops of water wet the papers you've placed nearby. However, with this product, you don't need to worry about. You can also carry it in your bag without any concerns.
- What's special about the single touch opening?
Some manufacturers say that their water bottles are single-touch, but you need both hands to open the lock. However, this one you can unlock with one hand and drink smoothly. And if you press the button, the cap opens only slightly? Do you know why is that so?
ー- Umm... Why? I don't know... - I see!
If you have a hot drink inside, the steam builds up, raising the pressure. When you open the lid, it opens more forcefully than necessary, and the droplets from the lid end up flying everywhere. But if you open it just a little, like this, then the pressure is released, preventing the lid from opening forcefully.
- I see!
Another feature is this "air vent structured bottle lip". When trying to drink quickly from a bottle, it prevents the air from going into the bottle, making it more difficult for the drink to come out, but by creating another path at the lip to allow the air to flow, it becomes easier for the air to flow into the bottle, allowing you to drink smoothly.
- Wow, that's carefully designed!
It's something you use every day so problems, even something that small, would be stressful. That is why we thought about all the details to make it convenient for people to use without even thinking about it.
"Everyday ideas" are the key
- Do you have any other recommendations?
We recommend the screw-on (wide lip) type from the same "TUFF"Stainless Mug Series!
Zojirushi Thermos Stainless Mug "TUFF" Left: SM-ED20 ¥2,280 + tax / Middle & Right: SM-LB36 ¥2,434 + tax
- What makes them special?
What makes this type special is its wide lip. You can see the drink inside as you drink it and it makes you feel safe drinking something hot. It also diffuses the smell of your drink, so that you can enjoy the aroma. Also, all the Zojirushi bottles are "coated with fluorine on the inside", which makes it difficult for smell and dirt to stay on and easier to wash off, so that you can enjoy your use.
- I see.
And speaking of our obsession, we've designed the SM-LD models with a "seal & rubber seal reminder"!
- What is that exactly?
In order to remind the users to attach the rubber seals, we designed it so that the stopper prevents you from putting the bottle back together unless you have attached the rubber seals onto the seal.
- That's reverse thinking! How did you come up with that idea?
Among all the rubber seal-related problems is leakage from forgetting to attach the rubber seal. This happens because our customers forget to attach the rubber seal back on, but we knew about it since we'd do it too. We wanted to solve this problem with structural design and came up with this.
- I see. It really has been thought through!
The smaller, SM-ED20 model can hold up to 200 ml, and people often use it as a mug at their office. It can easily be carried around, making it convenient for people who have lots of meetings to attend.
- You're right. This smaller size seems perfect.
Women, especially, tend to change their bags depending on their outfit of the day. So some of our customers have bottles in different sizes to fit the sizes of their bags.
Some people also have two bottles--a screw-on for everyday use and a single touch for when working out.
- If you have more than one bottle, you can use it in many ways! But listening to you, I feel that these products have been designed to the finest detail. How do you come up with these ideas?
Our corporate philosophy is "to design people's lifestyles," and our corporate slogan is "everyday ideas". We began with thermos production and are celebrating our 100th anniversary this year. Our long history has fostered a trait in our company to always take on the perspective of our customers' daily lives. That is usually where we get our ideas.
- I see. So it's important to keep using your imagination to conceptualize people's daily lives!
Also, the process where our ideas take shape involves making and improving on prototypes and takes about a year to a few years depending on the product. Water bottles are quite simple in its foundational design, so we have to refine the details to refine its design for better user experience.
Thankfully, many of our customers see our company as reassuring, gentle, and high-quality, but that is due to our great predecessors and the technologies that they've fostered. Also from our 101st year on our aim is to continue manufacturing products that customers can say they are happy that they've bought them.
How was it? The Zojirushi thermos water bottles are evolving into personalized items according to individual taste and situation, with a sense of security and safety as their base. If you try it once, you'll be surprised at how convenient it is!
*Items introduced in this article may not be available in some stores. Please contact stores for availability.
* Featured items may only be available via mail order.
*Please note that prices and specifications are subject to change and that availability is limited. * Photos may include items for display purposes.