What do you miss most about Japan?
I love everything about this East Asian country but some of the things I miss the most are sushi and traditional Japanese food. Japanese is my absolute favorite cuisine in the world and one of the biggest reasons why we love visiting Japan.
Another thing we miss dearly are the Japanese snacks. At the end of each day in Japan, we always stop by a konbini (convenience store) before heading back to our hotel. We buy a bunch of Japanese snacks and sweets to enjoy for dessert that night and for breakfast the following morning. We do this on every trip to Japan.
Enjoying Japanese snacks is something we look forward to on every trip, but thanks to the Sakuraco box, we can now do it once a month from the comfort of our own home.
In this detailed Sakuraco review, I’ll describe what you can expect from your Japanese snack box every month, and what makes Sakuraco different from all the other Japanese subscription boxes out on the market today.
If you’re already familiar with Sakuraco and want to place an order, then you can do so through this link. Otherwise, keep reading to see what makes this Japanese subscription box an ideal gift for people who love Japanese snacks and culture.
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SAKURACO REVIEW TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you enjoy watching videos, then be sure to check out our unboxing video to give you a better sense of what type of Japanese snacks to expect from your Sakuraco box every month.
WHAT IS SAKURACO?
Sakuraco is a Japan-based subscription service that delivers a box of Japanese sweets, snacks, and treats right to your door once a month. No matter where you are in the world, subscribers will get a box filled with Japanese snacks and goodies that are carefully curated based on a monthly theme.
Japanese subscription box services are nothing new, but what sets Sakuraco apart are the type and quality of snacks contained in every box. Other Japanese snack boxes contain fun treats and candy like Kit Kat and Pocky, but Sakuraco boxes are filled with harder-to-find artisanal products made by small businesses from different parts of Japan.
Open up your Sakuraco box and you’ll find a collection of Japanese sweets, cakes, crackers, and confections, the type of treats you’d normally associate with tea. It’s like having the Japanese tea drinking experience delivered to you every month!
Sakuraco is the sister company of TokyoTreat. They’re one of the most well-known subscription box services from Japan. While TokyoTreat focuses on sending you the trendiest Japanese candy and snacks, Sakuraco aims to show you the more traditional side of snack-making in Japan.
If you enjoy Kyoto and its tea drinking culture, then you’re going to love Sakuraco. It’s like getting the Japanese tea experience at home, minus the kimono (and geisha).
As soon as I opened our box, I was greeted by this message – “Nice to meet you. Let’s have tea.”
As I’ll describe in more detail later in this Sakuraco review, each box contains a total of twenty (20) tea-related items like snacks, cakes, crackers, and tableware. There’s also a beautifully designed and printed booklet explaining the month’s theme and all the snacks contained in the box.
WHO WOULD ENJOY A SAKURACO BOX?
The Sakuraco box makes for a unique and interesting gift for anyone who loves Japanese sweets and culture.
As described in the previous section, many Japanese subscription boxes bring you the trendiest and most popular candy and snacks. What sets Sakuraco apart is that it focuses on lesser known artisanal sweets, the kind of products that you can’t just find at any konbini. The fact that it contains harder-to-find regional treats makes it a great gift even for people who are already familiar with Japanese snacks and culture.
Anime and pop culture fans who want trendier Japanese sweets and candy may want to get a TokyoTreat box instead. But if you want something more traditional and unique, something that encapsulates the Japanese tea ceremony in a box, then Sakuraco is definitely for you.
HOW DOES THE SAKURACO SUBSCRIPTION WORK?
Sakuraco is a subscription-based service so you’ll receive a box every month as long as you’re subscribed. There are four subscription plans to choose from. The longer your subscription, the cheaper each box will be.
- 1 month – USD 37.50 / month (charged every month)
- 3 months – USD 35.50 / month (charged every 3 months)
- 6 months – USD 33.50 / month (charged every 6 months)
- 12 months – USD 32.50 / month (charged every 12 months)
Keep in mind is that you need to be subscribed to a plan at the end of each month to get the following month’s box. For example, to get September’s box, you’ll need to be subscribed by the end of August.
Please note that shipping is not included in the prices quoted above. Depending on where you are, shipping charges will run you an additional USD 10.50 or USD 12.50 per box. You can refer to the FAQs section of this Sakuraco review for more information.
Sakuraco sent us the August 2021 box. The month’s theme was “Exploring Okinawa”. I’ll describe the theme and the box’s contents in more detail in the next section of this Sakuraco review.
Sakuraco describes the contents of each upcoming box in their website. The theme for September 2021 is “Tokyo Matsuri”. You can also check their website for a description of past boxes.
WHAT’S INSIDE A SAKURACO BOX?
As described, the theme for the August 2021 box is “Explore Okinawa”. It casts a spotlight on Okinawa by featuring locally sourced artisanal products made with key Okinawa ingredients like brown sugar and the beautiful beni imo purple sweet potato.
Every box will contain a total of twenty (20) items, each falling under one of these categories:
- Japanese Tea: Matcha, hojicha, and seasonal teas
- Japanese Cakes: Different types of traditional cakes like castella and taiyaki
- Mochi, Manju, & Yokan: Traditional Japanese sweets
- Seasonal Japanese Treats: Seasonal goodies like sakura, momiji, and more
- Sakuraco Exclusives: Exclusive items made by local artisans
- Japanese Home Goods: Ceramics, chopsticks, furoshiki, and more
I’ve included pictures and a description of each product in this section but you may want to watch this quick unboxing video as well.
Every box comes with a greeting from the company’s founder and a beautifully printed booklet explaining the month’s theme and its contents. In this month’s booklet, it talks briefly about Okinawa, its festivals, and the local artisans responsible for making the products featured in the box.
I was blown away by the quality and amount of information in this booklet. It isn’t just some cheap one-page flyer listing the box’s contents. It’s a 24-page glossy booklet with beautiful pictures and loads of information.
The snacks are interesting enough on their own but to be able to learn more about them and the month’s theme was a huge plus. Bravo Sakuraco!
One of Renée’s favorite Japanese drinks is Suntory’s Strong Zero made with shikuwasa, so her eyes lit up when she saw this shikuwasa jelly. As it turns out, the shikuwasa citrus fruit (Citrus depressa) is one of Okinawa’s most iconic flavors. It’s grown primarily in southwest Japan, in the northern region of Okinawa’s main island.
Monaka refers to a type of Japanese sweet made with bean paste sandwiched between two crisp mochi wafers. A type of wagashi (Japanese confection) traditionally served with tea, it’s typically made with azuki bean but this yuzu monaka from Fukuoka is made with yuzu citrus and white bean paste.
Kogane Shikuwasa Manju
Manju refers to a traditional type of Japanese confection. It typically consists of anko or red bean paste stuffed inside a light and airy coating made from flour, rice powder, kudzu, and buckwheat.
Popular throughout Japan, manju comes in many varieties. This kogane shikuwasa manju is made with sweet red bean paste infused with the flavors of Okinawan shikuwasa.
Apple and Mango Melange Jelly
Unlike most parts of the country, southwest Japan enjoys a tropical climate so fruits like mango, pineapple, star fruit, and dragon fruit thrive in Okinawa. This interesting jelly dessert is rife with the flavors of mango and apple.
Sanpincha tea is a type of jasmine-flavored oolong tea that’s been enjoyed in Okinawa for centuries. It’s a blend of Chinese and Japanese tea that was introduced to Okinawa during the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Sanpin means “jasmine” while cha means “tea”.
Sanpincha tea is rich in antioxidants and minerals and is said to be effective in the prevention of cancer and arteriosclerosis. It’s also touted as a hangover cure.
Beni Imo Tart
One of Okinawa’s best-known agricultural products is the beni imo potato. Originally from China, it’s known for its purple flesh that has the same molecular structure as purple cabbage and blueberries. Its lovely color makes it a favorite ingredient in many Okinawan desserts like ice cream, brownies, tarts, and other pastries.
This beni imo tart is one of three desserts in the Explore Okinawa box made with beni imo potatoes. It features a light dough base topped with a creamy mixture of red bean paste and beni imo.
Beni imo is cultivated throughout southwest Japan but it’s particularly associated with the town of Yomitan on the western coast of Okinawa’s main island. This purple potato is so important to the town that they hold a “Miss Beni Imo” beauty contest every year.
Sata Andagi Beni Imo Doughnuts
Sata andagi refers to deep-fried balls of dough similar to doughnuts. Made with flour, sugar, and eggs shaped into balls and then deep-fried, they’re originally from southern China but have become an important part of Okinawa’s regional cuisine as well.
Spheres are considered auspicious in many Asian cultures so sata andagi are traditionally eaten at special occasions and celebrations like weddings. These beni imo doughnuts are packed with sweet potato flavor.
Beni Imo Pie
These small beni imo pies are made with a crispy puff pastry stuffed with a red bean and sweet potato filling. The deep purple color you see below is 100% natural.
Brown Sugar Shisa Candy
In Okinawan mythology, a shisa is a traditional Ryukyuan artifact resembling a cross between a lion and a dog. They’re wards derived from Chinese guardian lions that are believed to bring in good spirits and protect people from evil.
These shisa-shaped hard shell candies with a soft center will put you in good spirits with their burst of brown sugar sweetness. Like beni imo, brown sugar derived from locally grown sugarcane is a specialty in Okinawa.
Brown Sugar Manju
This version of manju is filled with the earthy sweetness of brown sugar. Like the kogane shikuwasa manju, be sure to savor its aroma before eating it. It smells and tastes wonderful.
Senbei refers to a family of Japanese rice crackers. They’re traditionally baked or grilled over charcoal and brushed with a glaze made from soy sauce and mirin. They can be savory or sweet and come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors.
These crackingly crisp issa senbei crackers from Fukuoka are made with Japanese rice and dusted with finely chopped seaweed.
Snow Salt Chinsuko
Chinsuko refers to a traditional Japanese sweet from Okinawa. Popular since the times of the Ryukyu Kingdom, you can think of them as a type of mildly sweet shortbread or biscuit made with lard and flour.
Chinsuko is one of the most popular souvenir food items from Okinawa. This version is lightly salted to bring out the sweetness of the cookie.
Mini Salted Tofu Chips
These salted chips are made with shimadofu, a type of locally grown tofu often used in Okinawan cuisine. You can enjoy them as a snack on their own or added to salads to give it some crunch.
The tofu chips in this picture are sitting in the owan bowl that came in the Explore Okinawa box. It has a lovely sakura pattern on its sides that you can appreciate more in the next picture.
Here’s a screenshot of the owan bowl from our unboxing video. Isn’t it beautiful?
Every box will come with one piece of Japanese tableware. It can be anything from a bowl, plate, spoon, cup, or pair of chopsticks.
Lightly Salted Red Bean Manju
This version of manju has a chewier texture than the two previous types. It’s made with red bean paste and Okinawan sea salt.
Kombu Arare Crackers
This interesting Japanese snack mix is made with kombu and arare. Kombu refers to edible kelp while arare is a type of Japanese cracker made with glutinous rice flavored with soy sauce. It’s very similar in taste and texture to senbei but differs in its shape and size.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
How much is shipping?
As of August 2021, Sakuraco will ship your box via Express or Priority shipping. You don’t get to choose because the shipping method will be based on your country. Both shipping methods come with a tracking number.
Express shipping costs USD 10.50 or USD 12.50 per box and will get to you in 2-5 days. Priority shipping also costs USD 10.50 or USD 12.50 and will arrive in 14-28 days.
From what I understand, free international shipping would normally be an option but these are extraordinary times so they need to use a more reliable method. When travel restrictions ease, then they may offer free shipping again. You can check this link for more information and the latest announcements on shipping options.
Will my Sakuraco subscription automatically renew?
Yes, it will. If you get a 3-month subscription for example, then it will automatically renew at the end of the third month. If you no longer want to receive additional boxes after you receive the last one, then it’s important to cancel your subscription so you don’t get automatically billed for another cycle.
Should I get the Sakuraco box or the TokyoTreat box?
That depends. If you like fun and trendy Japanese snacks and candy, then TokyoTreat is for you. If you prefer tea and more traditional artisanal Japanese sweets, then you should definitely get a Sakuraco box. Both are awesome so it all depends on what you’re into.
Is the Sakuraco subscription box worth it?
Yes definitely, based on the contents alone. But the additional shipping charges do give us pause. It costs us an extra USD 10.50 per box which makes us a but hesitant to pull the trigger. As previously described, these are extraordinary times so I do understand the extra shipping charges, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make us think twice.
With that said, Renée loved the Sakuraco box so much that she immediately ordered a 3-month subscription using her own money. With lesser shipping charges, then she may have gotten a longer subscription.
Will my box be delivered by a geisha?
No, but that would be awesome.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE SAKURACO BOX
As you can probably tell from the tone of this article, we were super impressed with our Sakuraco box. It contains exactly the types of products that we love.
I’m not big on souvenirs but one of my most treasured purchases from Japan is a set of artisanal candles from Hida Furukawa. They were made by the oldest candle makers in Japan, a small family-run shop that’s been in business for 7-8 generations! If you enjoy those types of cultural products, then you’re going to love Sakuraco.
I showed Renée the contents of next month’s box (Tokyo Matsuri) on their website and she immediately got her own subscription. As described, the additional shipping charges did give her some pause but obviously not enough.
Thanks for getting through this lengthy post but I hope this Sakuraco review convinces you to get your own subscription. If you love Japan like we do, then I’ve got a good feeling you’re going to appreciate these boxes. Arigato gozaimasu!
Sakuraco sent us the Explore Okinawa box in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, words, and opinions expressed in this article are mine and mine alone.
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