Note: I received this box in exchange for an honest review.
When I think of Japan in autumn, images of vibrant fall foliage fill my mind.
Commuter trains filled with tourist from across the island nation sightseeing in the chilly weather, indulging on the ubiquitous seasonal flavors of apple, sweet potatoe, chestnut, and kabocha to name a few.
The snacks featured in this month’s subscription box complexly captured that feeling within me. The longing of wanderlust mingled nostalgia experienced each spring and fall to be on the other side of the world, seeing the ins and outs of daily Japanese life.
I’ve always wanted to visit Kumamoto prefecture, as well. The island of Kyushu is not on many traveler’s list, but it happens to be the site where my favorite anime, Natsume Yuujinchou, takes place.
Trying this snack box allowed me to daydream a bit today, indulging on treats from lands far off as I make seichi junrei, or anime pilgramages in my head.
(That sounds silly, doesn’t it? ☺)
Before we formally begin the review, first let me tell you a bit about Sakuraco boxes, and what they offer.
So, what is Sakuraco?
Sakuraco is a monthly subscription box filled with 20 different traditional Japanese sweets, snacks, and teas sent out to their subscribers worldwide every month.
Each month has a different theme, and features 100% authentic and artisanal snacks from local makers in Japan. As you can ascertain from the title of this post, this month’s theme was autumn snacks from the isle of Kyushu.
Now that we know more about their services, let’s dig into their snacks!
The Sakuraco box was delivered to my home in a nice protective bubble wrapping.
I was going to take a picture of it for the review, but as we’ve had rain here lately the bubble wrap had pine needles all over it from my own home’s steps.
Upon picking it up to bring inside the house, I definitely noticed some weight on the contents inside.
I was really impressed when opening the box – it’s stacked with snacks and has an aesthetically pleasing color palette.
The booklet inside the box is read in Japanese style (from right to left) similar to manga.
While flipping through the book, I noticed it had various spotlights for makers, prefectures in Japan, and even an ‘explore Japan’ section with a write-up on Kumamoto Castle and its adjoining history.
The presentation of snack photos within the booklet is nice as well, but what I enjoy the most are the clearly labeled allergens for each item, along with whether or not the item in question is Vegetarian friendly. On one of the pages I was flipping through, it even had a QR code on the upper right corner to “scan for the full ingredients list”.
Most Japanese grocery stores or conbini I’ve personally been to in The States usually don’t have a list of ingredients translated in English on the back of the packaging.
So I greatly appreciated the transparency of knowing what is in the items on the box, and that the ingredients for both the current and following month’s offerings are on Sakuraco’s website.
There also seems to be an emphasis on forming a strong global, dedicated community of Japanese snack lovers worldwide by this company.
The booklet features a lot of incentives for subscribers to share their experiences (such as photo contest to win prizes like (the current) porcelain teapot to taking a selfie with their box to be possibly featured in the next month’s booklet), and express which items they liked.
If you were wondering, there are a variety of ways you can interact with this subscription box.
Sakuraco box has a Monthly Plan and several Prepaid Plans which go as followed:
Monthly: $37.5 per box, and the subscribed would be charged every month
3 Month Prepaid Plan: $35.5 per box, charged every 3 months
6 Month Prepaid Plan: $33.5 per box, charged every 6 months
12 Month Prepaid Plan: $32.5 per box, charged per every 12 months
It seems easier to subscribe to a prepaid plan, rather than monthly plans where you would have to keep track of sign-ups.
As with most subscription box services, you also need to subscribe the month prior to receive the next month’s offerings.
For example: to get May’s box, you need to subscribe before April ends (in Japan Standard Time). If you subscribe in May, you will get Sakuraco’s June box with a different theme, and so on.
Sakuraco currently has an early Black Friday campaign going on where if you use code “Early2021” at checkout by November 14th, 2021 – you can receive authentic Japanese kitchenware and even possibly win Traditional Artwork.
You can also view next month’s December box theme and contents online via their website.
On to Our Favorite Snacks
All of the snacks had unique, robust fall flavors but here are the ones that stood out to us the most:
Very soft. I delicately opened the bag as to not smush it. Smells like a fresh cake upon opening the packaging.
Having it with the green tea adds a distinct layer to the flavor profile.
The castella cake is sweet, but not too sweet. Subtle hints of honey and sugar mingle about. It reminds of a similar taste I experienced while eating a certain biscuit long ago.
Fukamushi Green Tea
Fresh leaves in a nice triangular baggie. Smells “green” if you understand my meaning.
Muted taste despite rich green appearance. On the second sip I received more of a traditional green tea flavor. This could also be due to steeping it a minute or two longer than recommended in the booklet.
(I mainly drank the green tea before and after snacks as a palette cleanser and enjoyed the flavor more as I went on. I don’t know if it was more pronounced because it had ‘settled’, or if it was just an ‘acquired taste’ sort of thing.)
Brown Sugar Bolo
I tried this one alongside the tea.
When opening the wrapper, it smelled exactly like a cookie. Crumbly texture.
Brown sugar with a delicate crunch when biting into it. It tastes like a strong wheat cracker, with a sweet aftertaste.
Yawaraka Milk Cookie
My favorite snack from the box I’ve tried so far!
Strong milk flavor that blends perfectly with subtle hints of white chocolate.
Soft texture, as even gently pressing on the cookie leaves an indentation on its surface.
Absolutely delicious. ☆☆☆
Brown Sugar Donuts
The packaging has Kumamon – the official Yuru-chara, or character mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture on it!
When opening the box I was greeted with three individually wrapped log shaped donuts. (Japan has a huge snack-sharing culture, so this is why so many snacks from there can be found in individual packaging.)
The booklet says that these items were lightly fried, and from within the packaging the donuts don’t appear to be overtly greasy.
They have a firm texture on the outside, and a strong brown sugar taste with crunchy sugar granules within.
I can taste the oil from it being frying, but it’s not too overpowering.
On the second and third bites, I taste the wheat ingredients.
The Brown Sugar Donuts go very well with the green tea. Paired together, it evokes a strong, rich brown sugar flavor.
Purple Imo Bread
It’s not a Japanese fall without sweet potato!
Delicate, fluffy (almost smushed) purple sweet potato bread with a thick layer of filling.
I like the light brown marks on the top as if it were freshly grilled.
Immediately taste the apple and sweet potato mingling together, along with cloud-like outer breading that gives off a neutral taste.
Not too sweet, I could definitely see people enjoying this often throughout the fall season.
(Also taste great with a sip of green tea!)
Sweet Potato Karinto
So, this is deep fried Japanese sweet potatoes coated with sugar.
It tastes like… deep fried Japanese sweet potatoes coated in sugar. Haha ☺
A little too hard for my liking, but the slightly salty taste of the fried sweet potato with the sweetness of the sugar is an interesting mix, to say the least.
Black Bean Senbei
I really enjoy black beans (and senbei) in general, so I was excited to try this.
A nice salty senbei with pieces of black bean stuck in it. A pretty straight forward and healthy tasting snack.
Kumamoto Castle Ginkgo Pie
I actually had to tap this one with my finger due to its appearance before trying.
Despite how it looks, it’s surprisingly hollow and not hard at all. It has dried sugar on top, smells appetizingly sweet and beaks apart easily enough.
Tastes very similar to a sugar cookie with a crunchy texture. I didn’t taste the ginkgo leaf powder on the first bite.
When trying it again moments later, I think it manifested in the pies after taste.
An enjoyable enough snack.
Amanatsu Citrus Jelly
(The booklet advises that the jelly pairs well with a light green tea. I tried this with the tea provided in the box.)
Wow! It was so jiggly in the container, and just completely expanded across the small plate moments after taking this picture.
Huge chunks of citrus orange amanatsu along with almost shredded pieces of the fruit.
This was my first time trying a fruit jelly of this nature, and it wasn’t a bad experience at all. Despite the amount of fruit in the cup, the orange flavor was light and not overbearing.
Overall, I was generally surprised by my first experience with a Sakuraco Japanese snack box.
It’s not that I thought the snack selection would be poor, I just didn’t anticipate a variety that perfectly encapsulated select fall flavors from Japan.
(Or, for the wanderlust wave to hit so hard ☺)
I really enjoyed learning more about Japanese history and culture from the booklet included with the box, and seeing all of the active social media promotions the company has for its subscribers.
Sakuraco seems to be doing its best at cultivating an online community of snack lovers across the globe – and it seems to be working.
If you’d like to join in on the fun by becoming a subscriber, you can do so here.
Thank you again to Sakuraco for sending the November snack box out – it made me nostalgic for travels to Japan. I’d imagine it would make those yearing to discover the country through food feel the same way.
Have you tried any snacks from Japan lately?
☆ In Asian Spaces