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I love Japanese culture and cuisine. Am I Japanese? …No. Have I been to Japan? …No. Do I speak Japanese? …Well, a little. (I did pass the JLPT N5, but that basically qualifies me to speak Japanese with toddlers.)
I have no roots in Japan, and yet the country and its heritage are inspiring to me, like a glowing sun in a hazy, impenetrable distance. A distance impenetrable before due to lack of funds, and impenetrable now due to the pandemic.
So when I learned about Sakuraco and what it offered, I was naturally enchanted. A subscription box full of tasty Japanese snacks appropriate to the month at hand? Yes, please! And since it’s hanami (flower sightseeing) season in Japan, I knew that things would be extra special for April.

More on Hanami

Join me on my quick jaunt to Japan–one where I didn’t have to leave my home in order to experience authentic treats. I did, however, venture outside with my goods. It’s hanami, after all! And it wouldn’t be hanami without enjoying delicacies under the trees.

Meet Sakuraco

Sakuraco Sakura Festival Box All Items

Credit: Taryn Ziegler

Sakuraco is located in Tokyo and has been operating alongside its sister brand, TokyoTreat, since 2015. According to the founder, Sakuraco was created to “provide customers with the chance to taste a more traditional side of Japanese sweets, teas, snacks, and more.”
True to their mission, Sakuraco emphasizes “afternoon tea” in their sets. In contrast, TokyoTreat emphasizes candies and crunchies. You might receive several varieties of senbei in a Sakuraco box, whereas you might receive several varieties of KitKats in a TokyoTreat one.
April’s collection is what’s currently available from Sakuraco, and it’s the Sakura Festival Box (“sakura” being what cherry blossoms are called in Japanese). Each box is packed with 20 items, including home goods like chopsticks and dishes.
The Sakura Festival Box contains the following: one sakura side plate, two bags of sakura green tea, sakura daifuku, sakura jelly, two sakura wafers, sakura kuzumochi, sakura senbei, sakura manju, sakura kanten, Nagano apple jam bun, senbei boat, milk manju, two apple cookies, ume arare, and chili arare.
Since I missed the window for the March box (and it was still March), I assumed that I wouldn’t receive my April box until…well, April. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong! My box was shipped just a couple days after I ordered, and it arrived around a week later.

The Sakura Festival Box

Sakuraco Sakura Festival Box Booklet and Snacks

Credit: Taryn Ziegler

Shipping was a sizable chunk of the box’s cost ($12.50 of the $49.99 total), so while I was miffed there was only one shipping option and it was costly, I was also delighted with how quickly it came. Considering it really did come all the way from Japan, the wait time was pretty darn short.
When it hit my doorstep, I was surprised by how small the box was in person–then impressed with the packaging. So much was artfully crammed into so little! I did have two products arrive crushed (part of the senbei boat and one chili arare), but I was too distracted by the tantalizing array of other treats to be disappointed.
The assortment of flavors was smartly arranged to satisfy the sweet tooth and the savory. Most everything had a sakura spin, but the sugary treats were balanced with more robust options like the senbei boat. The sakura green tea was just the cherry (blossom) on top.
My favorite of the lot? Easily the bag of sakura daifuku. This was a sakura-flavored mochi treat filled with bean paste, and each one was individually wrapped. I mowed through that bag faster than I’d care to admit, and the milk manju was also a house favorite.

More Than Just Snacks

Sakuraco Sakura Festival Box Booklet

Credit: Taryn Ziegler

But tasty snacks are ultimately just that–tasty snacks. Lots of online marketplaces where you can order Japanese treats already exist, so why spend the extra buck for a monthly subscription? From what I’ve seen, Sakuraco answers this question handily with a highly curated and educational experience.
You get the goods, but you also get a lovely booklet explaining all of the items, plus sections on Japanese cultural topics pertaining to the current season. There are even sections on some of the makers of the products they send–they had a highlight for the sakura daifuku that I enjoyed so much.
This personal touch ties everything together and informs the consumer in a way that I found super rewarding. Everything suddenly had context–everything suddenly had a story. These weren’t just random Japanese goodies I had ordered haphazardly online. They were a cohesive collection that I could connect with, even as a total outsider.
This is also a box that fosters sharing and therefore community. There were several treats that came in duplicates, including the tea, and this meant it was easy to enjoy everything with my husband. As I get older, I find it more and more important to create new and lasting memories with those I love, and experiences like this fit neatly into that category.

Promos and Subscriptions

Sakuraco Sakura Festival Box Dish and Chopsticks

Credit: Taryn Ziegler

Sakuraco boxes boast of having more than just food–they also have “home goods.” I received a cherry-blossom dish, which was one of three designs for the Sakura Festival Box. It would’ve been nice to get a pair, but who am I kidding. I’m totally just going to display this thing anyway.
I also got a “bonus” for adding a promo to my order. By using code TIME at checkout, I was qualified to receive a “tableware bonus” from the Sakura Tea Time Collection. I misunderstood this promo initially, thinking I was getting everything pictured on the ad.
I’ve since clarified that you receive a bonus based on what you subscribed for, and the one-month subscription gets just the chopsticks. I did reach out to Sakuraco for an explanation, but they never responded–I discovered this for myself after digging into the promo page more.
The subscription tiers are by month, and they scale up from 1 to 12 months. You save more by signing up for more, but since the boxes are pretty expensive, you’ll still be dropping nearly 400 bucks if you sign up for the best price bracket at a 12-month subscription.

Is Sakuraco Worth It?

Sakuraco Sakura Festival Box Snacks

Credit: Taryn Ziegler

The idea of unloading $400 in one go might make me squirm, but one month at a time for $49 with shipping? After just this box, I’m optimistic for the next, and I’m planning on letting my subscription renew for May. It’s not just that the food was good–I genuinely enjoyed the whole experience, courtesy of the booklet and the clever seasonal curation.
Admittedly, if I knew where to shop and what to look for, I could probably collect most of these treats for myself at a significant discount since I live in the greater Seattle area. Those who live in places like Seattle or Los Angeles have access to products like these without too much trouble.
However, for towns without Asian stores or shopping, buying online might be the only option anyway. And even if you do live near the supply, you might–like me–be baffled by the kanji packaging and inclined to back away slowly, or not know what would be especially nice to eat during a particular season.
Sakuraco is one solution for consumers like myself. Their box is a curated, convenient way to appreciate Japanese culture. Opening one offers the chance to make and share new memories, and since I can’t be in Japan for the ultimate teatime experience, I’m happy to let someone send me a decent representation of the real thing. For now, Sakuraco has a thumbs-up from me.

Check out this month’s Sakuraco box


Taryn Ziegler

Taryn Ziegler is a localization editor working in the greater Seattle area. She graduated from the University of Washington Bothell and harbors a deep love for all things related to literature and indie gaming.