The Dreaded Wedding Gift That's Suddenly Hot in Japan

Amy Kuras

Like everyone else who has gotten married since, oh, about 1990, I have a bread maker gathering dust in my basement (not even any takers when I tried to sell it on Craigslist). They're a fun toy for a while, but most people don't stick to the bread-making habit.

So it's pretty surprising to see that the hot item in Japan this winter is, oddly, a bread-maker. A bread-maker that retails for about $600 American dollars (50,000 yen).

The big difference with the Gopan bread maker? It makes bread out of rice. Nice, fluffy, crusty white bread.

And the reason they're selling so well that the company has them on back order for five months is kind of sad, actually.

Rice is the staple grain in Japan, but people there are shifting more towards a Western diet and eating more bread and less rice. Rice consumption has declined by half since 1962. Sanyo, which makes the Gopan, saw this as a way to preserve a piece of Japanese food culture while still giving people the fluffy Western style white bread they crave.

The twist here is that the baker puts in washed, whole rice along with other ingredients. The machine grinds the rice into a fine paste, mixes everything and bakes the bread. This would be popular here for people with wheat allergies, and the manufacturer says it can make gluten free bread as well.

Take a look at the Gopan in action. Would you pay $600 and wait five months for one of these?


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