I’ve already talked about how Sakuraco was my favorite Japanese snack box on the surface, but today I wanted to take the time to understand the experience they’ve created. Plus, now that I’m living in Japan, I think my opinion is slightly more well-informed.
At the end of the day, I want to make sure you get the best possible experience with a Japanese subscription box, and Sakuraco does that. But, is it still the best option for those of you who want to experience Japanese culture at home? Let’s find out!
The Sakuraco Experience
One of the most important things to me when choosing what Japanese snack subscription box to go for is understanding what kind of experience the product is offering. Sure, at the end of the day you want おいしい snacks and cool gifts inside the box, but the overall experience needs to be top-tier for me to consider re-purchasing or subscribing to it.
If you’re wondering if the Sakuraco subscription box is worth it for you, this is the first place you need to start even before you think about the food.
My love for these boxes starts as soon as you receive them in the mail. While most companies play on the “Crazy” and “Hyper” aspects of Japanese culture, Sakuraco has designed its box while placing high importance on the feeling those who open it will have.
Having a Japanese subscription box like this not only puts you in the right frame of mind for a Japanese tea ceremony with snacks, but it also works fantastically as a temporary ornament in your house. Of course, I don’t expect you to keep the boxes as I do, I’m just a bit of a nerd when it comes to packaging and this is by far one of the most relevant, aesthetically pleasing boxes I’ve come across.
As soon as you open the box, you’re presented with a unique postcard from the company’s Founder, Ayumi Chikamoto. The notes are always so lovely to read, and highly relevant to the box contents and the season in Japan. And seasonality often plays a huge role in the food people in Japan eat.
I’ve got a load of these little postcards now, and the art on each one of them is so cool. Yes, I’m getting a Japanese snack box filled with goodies, but I’m also getting a little piece of art in each one. I think that’s pretty cool!
The Snack Guide
With each Sakuraco subscription box comes a ‘Snack Guide’ which delves a little deeper into the snacks you’ve been given and the theme of this month’s box. Not only that, but like the culture section on our website, the booklet discusses interesting parts of Japanese life, culture, and history.
Attention to detail is what, in my opinion, sets Sakuraco apart from the rest. One of the most notable things is that the guide is read from right to left instead of left to right. That means you’ll be starting at what you think is the back of the book, but the page number will confirm you’re in the right place. It might not sound like a lot, but once again, it’s all part of that overall experience that makes this box a pleasure to receive.
This month they talked about a few things, but the main theme was ‘Tochigi Traditions’, with a picture of a famous temple I’ve been to twice on the front cover! Facts, storytelling, and cultural etiquette are all discussed along with a selection of great images to accompany them. So, we haven’t even got to the food yet, but I already feel like I’m getting in the mood to mindfully eat some Japanese snacks, rather than scoff them down without learning anything about where they came from!
We’re then guided through a selection of around 8 snacks, before being presented with our next section of ‘Explore Japan’. This time we’re talking about a city under the ‘City Spotlight’ section, and it’s a place I’ve been to a number of times!
Shrines, Temples, Natural landscapes, and fascinating history are the things that make Nikko such an incredible place to visit. Slightly deviating from the article, but I live about 2 hours or so away from the city, and always chose the slowest trains available even though the shinkansen is a possible alternative.
It trundles along through bamboo forests, and around mountains until it arrives in the culturally fascinating city of Nikko. This is a place you’ll want to take your time visiting, and that’s exactly the same as the food in this box. In the same way I chose to get the slow train to admire the scenery and have a mindful experience, you should take your time tasting all the flavors, reading the stories, and imagining being in this ancient city.
After reading the snack makers’ stories, getting sucked into the history of this month’s theme, and even being able to peek inside some factories, you’ll arrive at the end of the guide. But, that doesn’t mean the immersion and experience finishes. They’ve got a few QR codes to scan, which will direct you to the Sakuraco blog which is full of cultural information, guides, and more.
Finally, at the very back of the guide, there are two pages. One is a photo contest and the other is promoting their rather large community on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter.
The photography competition is a challenge that changes each month, along with the theme of the box and the prizes. This month, the brief was to put on your favorite sweater and grab a cup of tea with your Sakuraco box. Take a snap, and upload it to Instagram with the hashtags #sakuraco and #sakuracosweater. It’s a really cute idea in my opinion, and makes for a lovely community vibe.
The runner-up prizes this month were a Minoyaki Soba cup and 1 month’s subscription to Sakuraco for 5 people. The grand prize – for two people – was a 3 month subscription to Sakuraco along with a pair of arabesque teacups. I don’t think it’s humanly possible to have too many Japanese tea cups, so this is a competition well worth entering!
They also have a leaflet tucked into the guide which prompts you to leave a review for the box you’ve received on their website. Each month they’ll choose 5 reviewers who will win some Japanese goodies, all for just a few sentences about your thoughts on the box. That’s a good deal in my opinion!
By now, you’ve probably realized that there’s far more to these boxes than just the Japanese snacks inside. I won’t go into too much detail here about the specifics of the food – I’ll save that for another post – but it’s plain to see how Sakuraco is able to create an entire experience with its box, rather than just giving people Japanese food.
Of course, there is one thing in each of these boxes that I personally think makes that experience even better. That’s the object or non-edible product! Each month, you’ll be treated to something in your box, be it chopsticks, a plate, a cup, or in this case a furoshiki!
Typically used to wrap gifts, Furoshiki makes a waste-free, eco-friendly, alternative to wrapping paper. I don’t expect to get an actual object in a Japanese food box, so I always think these are nice surprises. My favorites are either the cups or plates, which end up looking great in my house!
In case you haven’t already guessed, I’m a huge fan of the Sakuraco subscription box, and perhaps most interestingly I think only a certain amount of that excitement comes from the snacks inside it. The folks over at sakuraco have done such a great job by managing to create an authentic Japanese experience for people right in their own homes, and that’s what makes it a winner in my opinion.