1. bento rice cooker thanko
    Photo: Thanko Bento rice cooker
  2. Spirited Away sensor light
    Photo: Benelic
  3. Senbero Maker mini izakaya
    Photo: Laithon
  4. Cup Noodle humidifier
    Photo: Takarajimasha Co., Ltd.

16 best Japanese products for single living

From robot pets to mini izakaya grills, these compact products make living alone more convenient and much sweeter

Kaila Imada
Kasey Furutani
Written by
Kaila Imada
&
Kasey Furutani
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Tokyo is the perfect city for single life. No one will side-eye if you sit alone in a restaurant. In fact, it seems like ramen restaurants were made for people eating by themselves. The city is full of fun solitary activities, like chilling in an onsen, wandering around quiet temples and shrines, and sipping lattes in cafés. Even the apartments are made for singles – a 20sqm metre apartment can’t fit two people without consequences. Whether you live in Tokyo or you’re just vacationing here, stock up on these Japanese products made especially for just one person: they’ll save you time, space and money. Sometimes it’s fun to be single.

Recommended: Best Japanese products you need in your life

Kitchen

Senbero Maker mini izakaya
Photo: Laithon

Senbero Maker mini izakaya

This one-man izakaya station is all you need for a chill evening at home. Made to replicate your local pub experience, the Senbero Maker lets you cook up izakaya staples like oden and yakitori along with a warming pot to heat up sake. The appliance also comes in a scaled up version for two people in case you have company. 

¥5,980, available at Amazon

Umaiimo sweet potato baker
Photo: Culture Convenience Club Co.

Umaiimo sweet potato baker

Yaki imo (roasted sweet potatoes) are a delicious snack choice, and you can make them in a jiffy with this compact baked potato maker. While a normal oven may dry out your potatoes, this machine brings out the best from the spuds so you can enjoy their natural sweetness and texture. There’s no complicated equipment involved and the machine works just like a rice cooker, with the press of a button to set your sweet potatoes roasting.

¥16,500, available at Yodobashi Camera

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USB Onigiri Warmer
Photo: Thanko

USB Onigiri Warmer

We love our beloved konbini onigiri, but sometimes it’d be nice if we could eat them warm. This compact onigiri heater is the perfect tool for quickly heating up your rice balls, especially while camping. Even better, it has a USB power cable, so you can run it from a portable phone charger anywhere, anytime. Just pop in your favourite onigiri, turn the heater on and wait 30 to 60 minutes (you’ll have to be patient) for it to heat up. Itadakimasu!

¥2,480, available at Thanko

Bento rice cooker
Photo: Thanko

Bento rice cooker

Rice cookers are a necessity in every carb-lover’s household, and leftover rice just doesn’t have the chewy je ne sais quoi of fresh Japanese sticky rice. Enter the bento rice cooker from Thanko: compact enough to take to the office filled with your home-cooked lunch, but large enough to cook a hearty donburi for one. Pair it up with the Mini Mini Tempura Pot to make your own tempura donburi.

¥6,980, available online at Thanko

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Mini Mini Tempura pot
Photo: Cecile

Mini Mini Tempura pot

Ah, the crispy texture of freshly cooked tempura. Deep fried shrimp and veggies don’t require much culinary expertise, but they’re still a challenge to cook at home thanks to the strenuous cleanup. This one-person tempura pot makes frying a much easier task, without leaving a huge mess afterwards. Extremely compact, the lid doubles as a metal cooling tray for the just-cooked tempura. Plus, this tempura pot makes the perfect portion for one person, so you can have restaurant-quality food at home.

¥3,278, available online at Cecile

i-Wano toaster cooker
Photo: Universal Bussan Co., Ltd.

i-Wano toaster cooker

Don’t have room in your kitchen for a rice cooker? No problem. Cooking rice has never been easier with this nifty cooker, which allows you to cook rice in 30 minutes with just a toaster oven. All you need to do is add water and rice to the heat-resistant container and pop it in your toaster oven for 15 minutes. Once the time is up, let it sit for another 15 minutes to steam before digging in. The container is the perfect size for one person and is also microwave-safe in case you have leftovers.

¥4,400, available at i-Wano

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Toffy smokeless yakiniku grill
Photo: Radonna Co., Ltd.

Toffy smokeless yakiniku grill

If you love yakiniku but hate smelling like a barbecue after a meal, this smokeless grill is for you. Using a unique side-heating method, this appliance does not emit smoke like your typical grill or barbecue. It also gives you two different ways to grill your meat: either using a standard wire barbecue mesh or a flat hotplate, which can be used to fry other items like cheese and noodles.

¥19,800, available at Yodobashi Camera

Recolte individual egg steamer
Photo: Winner's Inc.

Recolte individual egg steamer

Forget boiling water – this handy compact appliance lets you steam an individual chicken egg (or a handful of smaller quail eggs) in a matter of minutes. What’s more, the appliance is built with an energy-saving design, so using it consumes less power than boiling a pot of water. Depending on how long you cook it for, you can get a proper hard-boiled egg to add to your bento or even a gooey soft-boiled egg for your ramen.

¥3,300, available online at Recolte

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Ninben microwavable dashi pot
Photo: Ninben

Ninben microwavable dashi pot

Dashi is a core ingredient in Japanese cuisine and now you can easily create your own soup stock with this handy dashi pot. The jug consists of three pieces: a heat-resistant glass pot, mesh filter and a lid, making for easy cooking and clean up. 

To make your stock, all you have to do is place bonito flakes into the mesh filter, fill the pot up with water and then zap it in the microwave for seven minutes – no stove needed. If you don't have bonito on hand, you can also use the same method to make stock from vegetables and even chicken.

¥3,850, available online at Ninben

Air-tight vacuum sealed food stocker
Photo: Recolte

Air-tight vacuum sealed food stocker

Keep your dry ingredients and snacks fresh and ready to eat with this handy air-tight vacuum sealed food stocker. With Tokyo's climate, it can be hard to keep opened items like potato chips, flour, rice, and coffee beans from going stale, especially when the humidity is high. This food storage unit could be your saving grace as it vacuum seals your items with the press of a button to protect them from moisture and oxidation. 

The 7L container recharges via a USB cable and can easily be stored anywhere including inside your refrigerator. A fully charged container holds for roughly three weeks.

¥7,480, available online at Recolte

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One-person hot pot maker
Photo: Thanko

One-person hot pot maker

Hot pot, or nabe, is an essential during the cooler months, but sometimes it can leave you with a load of leftovers. Luckily, Thanko's one-person hot pot device is ideal for making small serves. The handy cooking gadget is compact, easily portable and can hold up to 1 litre of liquid, giving you plenty of cooking space to work with. There's also a voltage selector meaning you can adjust your nabe to use in other countries outside of Japan.

It also comes with a steamer tray which can be used to steam dumplings and other food items. To make your hot pot, just dump all your favourite veggies and ingredients into a tasty broth, set the cooker on one of the two available settings and voilà – dinner, sorted.

¥6,028, available online from Thanko

Home

Spirited Away sensor light
Photo: Benelic

Spirited Away sensor light

Let No Face light the way with this cute night light that activates when it senses your body temperature. When it detects a person, the light will stay on for about 15 seconds before turning off again. The red lantern can also be removed if you’d rather use No Face as a fun decoration without the light. 

¥4,290, available at Donguri Kyowakoku

Shimaeru folding mini washing machine
Photo: Winners

Shimaeru folding mini washing machine

This nifty little washing machine is perfect for those who don’t have space for a full-size toploader. Plus, it’s handy for washing a single item or delicates using much less water than a large washing machine. It's ideal for small things like kitchen towels, baby bibs, underwear, face masks, dog clothes and more. Washing takes just ten minutes and the machine can even be folded away for easy storage. How great is that?

¥9,900, available at Recolte

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Cup Noodle humidifier
Photo: Takarajimasha Co., Ltd.

Cup Noodle humidifier

Don’t let the dry, winter air put a damper on your day. This adorable Cup Noodle humidifier looks uncannily like a steaming cup of noodles and is powered via USB. Use it around your house, office or even a car if you’re feeling the need for a bit of moisture in the air. Note that the humidifier also comes as part of a set with the Cup Noodle 50th Anniversary Book, making for a nice commemorative souvenir for instant ramen fiends.

¥2,189, available at TKJ

Thanko one-person kotatsu
Photo: Village Vanguard

Thanko one-person kotatsu

There's nothing better than a cosy kotatsu to keep you warm during the winter, and this one-person option does just the trick. Rather than pulling out a huge kotatsu table, this convenient device turns your desk, couch or anywhere else you’re sitting into a makeshift kotatsu. The kotatsu is easy to assemble and contains just two parts: a three-sided infrared carbon heater that can be folded around your legs and a blanket for your lap.

¥6,980, available at Village Vanguard

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Qoobo therapy robot
Photo: Yukai Engineering

Qoobo therapy robot

Apartments in Tokyo generally have a strict ‘no pets’ rule, which can make city life a bit lonely. Good thing Japan is also home to an ever-growing range of robotic companions. Created by Yukai Engineering, Qoobo looks like a headless cat but is so much more. When you pet its round body, the tail moves calmly or excitedly, similar to a dog or cat, but without all the messy cleanup. 

Qoobo will quickly become your best friend – the robot is perfect company while working from home or to pet while you’re on the couch. A petit Qoobo will also be released this autumn, so you can take your robot pet wherever you go. 

From ¥12,000

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