If there’s a box that comes filled with Japanese snacks, I want to get my hands on it. I’ve already spoken about my love for Sakuraco, and now we’re pitting them against another big hitter in the Japanese subscription box world, Bokksu. As two of the biggest companies in the Japan snack box space how do they stack up against each other, and more importantly, which one should you choose?
In today’s article, I’m going to be answering those questions and giving you my honest opinion about which one I would recommend.
For most people, the price of the box is likely to be the most important reason for buying or not buying it. We live in a world where pretty much every service or product has adopted the monthly subscription pricing model, so for anyone to pull the plug on something new, it’s going to take some convincing.
Sakuraco comes in at $37.50 if you order one month at a time or $32.50 if you order an entire year at once. Of course, the latter is the far better option if you know you like the box, but it’s totally understandable if you aren’t ready to part with a few hundred dollars at first.
Bokksu starts at a far more expensive $49.99 for a single month and moves to $39.99 if you go for 12 months at the same time.
The price difference between each box here is a big one. The cheapest option offered by bokksu is still more expensive than the most expensive option from Sakuraco.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The main point of these boxes is (or at least should be) to allow you to experience Japanese culture from the comfort of your own home. Whether you can’t afford to come to Japan yet or are already counting down the days until your flight, the more immersed in Japan’s culture you can get, the better.
When I receive my box I want to be transported to another place, and the designs on both these boxes do that brilliantly. As such, it’s a little hard to pick a winner.
When I open the boxes, both greet me with a message on the underside of the lid. I find Sakuraco’s to be more personal, but it’s a great effort from both.
I’m basing this section entirely on design, so I’m calling it a draw. If I had one little nitpick about Bokksu, it would be that the box isn’t as sturdy. You can see from the front that the cardboard is thinner, but also the lid falls down further making it not directly in my eyeliner, unlike Sakuraco.
The booklet is an incredibly important part of any Japanese snack box, and honestly, it’s not talked about enough in the reviews that I’ve read. I’ve loved Sakuraco’s booklet ever since I opened my first subscription box and after comparing it to Bokksu, I still prefer it. Sakuraco spends a lot more of their book talking about the makers, the cultural significance of the box this month, and a lot more photos. It’s this well-rounded experience that tilts it in my favor.
That’s not to say it’s not a good booklet, because it is. Their food page sits all of their snacks in context, which I personally prefer to a white background. Aesthetics are important in snack boxes as we’ve already discussed with the design of the box. That said, a better experience, more information, and most importantly more immersion are critical to a box’s success.
Another thing that works in Sakuraco’s favor here is that their book is opened and read from what we would normally consider the back of a book. This is the case will all books in Japan, and it’s a little detail that makes all the difference.
Both boxes feature these inserts which is a big win in my opinion. As you can see from the photo below, they’re both letters from the founder of each box. It’s a nice personal touch that helps you connect to the stories of each company, taking away that faceless feeling we often have with bigger businesses.
But, Sakuraco wins for me once again due to a few different reasons. First up, the content of what’s written seems a little more focused and personal, rather than general like Bokksu’s. Though, this definitely could be because it’s my first box from them so the preceding ones may well be better.
Next is the type of paper used. Bokksu uses what I would describe as a semi-gloss, and Sakuraco sticks with a completely matte finish. That matte finish works perfectly with the zen, natural vibe they’re trying to create, and makes your experience all the more authentic. Yep, it might seem like something small but as I said at the beginning of the article, it’s the small things that make a good box, a great one.
The design of the Sakuraco postcard has once again stolen my heart. I think I’m probably the only person on the internet who raves about these so much, but they honestly look fantastic. I don’t think they could get any more traditional Japanese if they tried!
The Japanese Snacks
Ok, so finally we’ll get to the important part, the food! For a Japanese subscription box to grab my attention, the food has to be varied, interesting, and not easily accessible. I can get Japanese snacks from loads of websites, but what I’m really paying for is the access each company has to those little bespoke businesses in Japan that I would otherwise not have heard of.
Number of Japanese snacks in Bokksu: 20-22
Bokksu comes with more snacks. There seemed to be a nice selection, from a variety of different vendors. Ideally, I’d like to know a bit more about the smaller businesses in the booklet, which would be a great accompaniment while I’m scoffing down some of this food.
One thing they seem to push (or at least suggest) from the outset on the website is “With a Bokksu subscription, every box you purchase supports small family-run businesses in Japan and helps keep their traditions alive”. While I’m not denying that’s possible, your boxes won’t only be full of products from small businesses.
They’ll definitely be a lot that is but don’t expect everything to be. I’ve seen boxes with Calbee, Lotte, and other bigger brands that don’t particularly fall under that ‘Small business’ bracket. That’s not a reason to disregard the box entirely, but keep it in mind when making your decision.
Number of snacks in Sakuraco: 20
Sakuraco comes with fewer snacks, but it includes one thing that Bokksu doesn’t, and for me it’s incredibly important to ensuring Japanese immersion. Every single Sakuraco box includes some sort of Japanese homeware item.
For some people who only want Japanese snacks and nothing else, you might not be too bothered about it. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s part of the experience. If I wanted just food, I’d order from a supermarket or online shop. Part of the fun is not knowing what you’re going to get, and picking out Japanese homeware products isn’t something a lot of people would know where to start with.
Having discussed this with the family I’m staying with in Japan, I can confirm that all the snacks here are a great representation of the country. Plus, the seasonality is on point. Strawberry season in Japan is (normally) from January to May, so the inclusion of a strawberry-filled crepe is more than ok with me!
A significant appeal of the Sakuraco boxes I’ve received in the past is that they’re all themed. This one was based on ‘New years in Niigata’ which meant I received a cute little sake cup. o-toso, a medicinal sake, is commonly drunk by everyone at shōgatsu. It’s a great little cup, and it’ll go nicely with my other homeware products from Sakuraco.
Sakuraco and Bokksu both make high-quality Japanese snack boxes, and to be honest you’ll likely be happy with either of them. But, as they both offer great products it means I need to be pickier. If you haven’t guessed yet, for me, the winner lies in the details. I want to be fully immersed in Japanese culture as well as stuffing my face full of Japanese snacks.
From the postcard and the highly detailed booklet, to the incredibly on-theme boxes and homeware products, Sakuraco takes the metaphorical jiggly Japanese cheesecake. From the moment I receive that box in the mail, to the moment I finished eating everything inside, I feel like I’d visited Japan without leaving my living room. And that’s exactly how you can feel too.
Whether you’ve got post-holiday Japanese blues, have planned your perfect trip to the land of the rising sun, or spend all day dreaming about it, subscribing to Sakuraco is perhaps the perfect way to experience Japanese life without even visiting the country.