Can’t get to Japan? Bring the beauty of authentic Japanese sweets to you in 2023!
Have you heard the news? If you’re familiar with my TokyoTreat review, you may be as excited as I was to learn about the launch of its sister Japanese snack box, Sakuraco! Having been invited to try their first-ever box and multiple boxes thereafter, I’ve been bursting to share my honest thoughts about the authentic Japanese sweets, teas and homewares by local makers in this detailed Sakuraco review.
But, I hear you asking, isn’t Sakuraco just like every other Japanese subscription box out there? It’s true, there are already a number of Japanese subscription boxes delivering popular konbini snacks such as chips and chocolate internationally. However, this is the part where it gets interesting.
When travelling in Japan, the alluring aroma of fresh, traditional artisan snacks that draw us to street vendors is an undeniable tourist favourite. It’s unfortunate that this experience has been notoriously difficult to find or replicate outside of Japan. That is, until now.
If you’re wondering how this new box differs from TokyoTreat and similar counterparts, what’s included and how it all works, my honest Sakuraco review is about to break it all down for you. Read on for more!
This Sakuraco box review will cover in detail:
My Sakuraco box was kindly gifted to me to write this Sakuraco review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. As mentioned in my TokyoTreat review, I became an affiliate as I was quite impressed with the product after initially purchasing a 3-month subscription with my own money. This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Sakuraco Review: What is Sakuraco?
Featuring 20 authentic Japanese sweets, snacks and teas, Sakuraco is a subscription box that aims to bring the art of traditional Japanese afternoon tea to your door. Yes, they ship worldwide!
Through a carefully curated theme every month, you’re able to learn more about Japanese artisan snacks as well as the local companies that create them. Some of the featured makers have been in business for multiple decades (others even beyond a century!)
You’ll not only learn about the history behind each treat but also its significance to the local region where it was created. Only the highest quality, 100% authentic and artisanal snacks are selected for inclusion in each box.
Who is Sakuraco for?
Anyone who wants to experience authentic Japanese artisan snacks, teas and homewares by local makers from the comfort of their own home. If you’ve been to Japan and enjoy the cultural aspect when savouring these goodies, it’s so great these snacks and teas are now available outside Japan.
Was your Japan trip cancelled? This afternoon tea time in a box is a wonderful way to bridge the gap for now until you’re able to visit in person. You’ll also know which of your favourites to look out for when you’re actually in Japan!
TIP: A Sakuraco box also makes a thoughtful gift idea for the Japanophile in your life. The scarcity of the included products outside Japan makes it a very unique gift.
How it works
As it’s a subscription based service, you’ll receive a Sakuraco box delivered to your door as long as your subscription is active. There are different plans to select from which I’ll mention under the pricing section further down the page.
The payment is deducted a month in advance for the following month’s box. For instance, to receive March’s box you need to subscribe by the end of the preceding month (February). If you subscribe in March you’ll receive April’s box, subscribe in April for May’s box and so on.
The longer pricing plan you subscribe to, the lower the cost per box each month. Prices are in USD:
- 1 month prepaid plan: $37.50 per box, charged every month
- 3 month prepaid plan: $35.50 per box, charged every 3 months
- 6 month prepaid plan: $33.50 per box, charged every 6 months
- 12 month prepaid plan: $32.50 per box, charged every 12 months
Sakuraco Shipping Cost
Boxes are shipped directly from Tokyo via DHL Express at an additional $10.50 – 12.50 depending on your region. With reduced commercial airline flights for cargo these days, DHL Express is reliable and fast, with most boxes reaching their destinations in 2-10 business days. More information here.
First impressions of Sakuraco
If you’re used to the size of Tokyo Treat boxes, the first thing you’ll notice with Sakuraco is it’s about ¾ the size. While the box is more compact for sure, it’s also a lot heavier! The box is jam-full and goodies have been packed with great Tetris-like care.
Adorning the packaging is an eye-catching gold foil logo. With my background in printing I certainly appreciate this! The whole aesthetic from the printing to curated sakura theme is such a mood.
When opening the box, I was first greeted by the printed snack guide. Beneath the booklet was a postcard featuring an artistic Japanese-style artwork of cherry blossoms, a nice keepsake. On the back it features a message from Sakuraco’s founder, which adds a personal touch.
Sakuraco Unboxing Video
I’ve created this Sakuraco unboxing video to help demonstrate how much is actually packed inside and the items included. If you can’t see it in the space below, simply disable your ad blocker:
Sakuraco vs Tokyo Treat: How do they differ?
The way I would report the difference between Sakuraco and TokyoTreat is they each aim to fulfil contrasting parts of Japanese culture. One one hand, TokyoTreat has a very modern and trendy feel with its boxes, whereas Sakuraco encompasses traditional and authentic snack making.
If we were to say each box carried an atmosphere of a Japanese city within it, TokyoTreat would feel like Tokyo’s Akihabara area with its quirky snacks, anime, video game and modern pop culture.
Sakuraco on the other hand would be Kyoto, holding on to centuries-old traditions, reminding us of the importance of ichi-go ichi-e. During my tea ceremony in Kyoto, I learnt in Japanese this translates to “once in this lifetime”, referring to each and every moment being unique and unable to be replicated. I loved this meaning so much I curated a list of beautiful Japanese words and expressions to bring more meaning into life.
Ready to receive your own box?
Japanese sweets to expect in your Sakuraco box
As mentioned earlier, the must-have Japanese snacks, sweets, teas and homewares in each box are carefully curated to suit a theme that changes each month. To celebrate the coming of spring, my box was sakura themed (Japanese cherry blossoms).
TIP: Be sure to savour the amazing scents from the treats when you open them. Each smell is incredible!
Below I’m going to outline the different Japanese sweets you can expect within your Sakuraco box, the quality and how they taste.
Your preferences may be different to mine, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed each of the goodies in this Japanese sweets box. I now have a few specific favourites I know I’ll keep an eye out for on my next Japan trip! Let’s take a look at the kinds of items you’ll receive:
Taiyaki & Dorayaki
As mentioned in my guide to Japanese snacks, taiyaki are little fish-shaped cakes made from pancake or waffle batter. They’re usually filled with a sweet red bean paste but can also be filled other ingredients such as chocolate or even sweet potato.
Red sea bream, or tai in Japanese, are considered lucky! The taiyaki in my Sakuraco box bought back fond memories. Ahh, nostalgia.
TIP: Taiyaki always remind me of the 1,500 year old Hikawa Shrine in Kawagoe, where you’re able to literally fish for a small paper tai containing your fortune for the year ahead. My Kawagoe day trip from Tokyo article has all the details.
Similarly, dorayaki are two round pancakes held together with red bean paste or red bean jam. The one I received had a strawberry twist. When I’m in Japan, one of my favourite convenience store breakfasts is dorayaki.
TIP: For freshly-made hot taiyaki, head to Nakamise-dori leading up to Senso-ji in Tokyo’s Asakusa neighbourhood. The aroma of them cooking away in the street always seduces me! While taiyaki can be found throughout Japan, my most memorable were vanilla custard-filled from Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama.
Mochi, Manju & Yokan
Mochi, manju and yokan are types of Japanese wagashi (traditional sweets). They can be served with green tea to prepare the palate.
Mochi is a favourite snack amongst tourists and locals alike! These traditional Japanese sweets are made from a glutinous rice flour moulded into shape, are chewy, and can be enjoyed in sweet or savoury form.
Usually filled with red bean paste, manju on the other hand are filled with red bean paste and coated in a bread-like exterior.
Yokan is a one of the dense desserts from Japan made from sugar, agar and red bean paste (are you sensing a theme here?) Sometimes it can look like chocolate!
TIP: Mochi always takes me back to my Kamakura day trip, where there is no shortage of stores lining Komachi-dori selling them.
My Sakuraco box contained Yoshino Kuzumochi, a chewable yet jelly-like mochi dessert topped with Okinawan brown sugar syrup and roasted soy bean flour, a real treat.
The wafer-light exterior of the sakura mochi monaka (light circle shape pictured above decorated with a Japanese pattern) combined with its chewy mochi centre was amazing.
Japanese teas included in Sakuraco boxes are matcha, hojicha and seasonal teas. If you aren’t familiar, matcha is the green powder used in traditional tea ceremonies throughout Japan (especially Kyoto). The powder can also be used in cakes, ice cream and other Japanese desserts.
I loved brewing the sakura tea in the first Sakuraco box! Within the little gold packet were actual pickled cherry blossom flowers that beautifully unfurled once hot water was added. The result was a sweet yet slightly salty cup of tea.
These are items created by local makers especially for Sakuraco. My box included senbei (traditional Japanese rice crackers) and konpeito (Japanese candy rock).
The small sakura crackers here were so good, I’d love to find a large bag of them somewhere. So crunchy and satisfying! I’m also a huge fan of rock candy so I thoroughly enjoyed the konpeito.
Japanese cakes & breads
Who doesn’t love Japanese cakes? You can expect to receive all kinds of cakes from peach or matcha Castella to sakura Madeleines. I absolutely love the Okayama White Peach Castella, it reminded me of my visit to Kurashiki. My goodness, the peach scent should be made into a candle! It was probably one of my favourite snacks in the Sakuraco box.
The Hokkaido Cream Pan bread roll was one of the most delicious breads I’ve ever tried – fluffy, light, yet creamy and sweet. It was deliciously unusual and you really need to try it to see for yourself!
TIP: In case you’re wondering, the cakes and breads are not stale when they get to you. Each is individually wrapped with a moisture absorber inside (those little packets that say “do not eat” in multiple languages) to help preserve their freshness. Single-serve packaged snacks such as these are common in Japan.
Senbei & crackers
Japanese people sure know how to make moreish crackers – these are some of my favourite! If you love a good crunchy, savoury snack, chances are you will enjoy senbei (traditional rice crackers). They come in all kinds of flavours, from nori (seaweed) to curry and more. Check out the massive scallop senbei below, it was light, crispy and absolutely delicious without being oily.
Seasonal sweets from Japan
We all know the distinct seasons influence Japanese life. Enjoy treats themed around the seasons such as sakura for spring months and momiji (autumn leaves) for autumn months.
Japanese Home Goods
Expect to receive items such as ceramics, chopsticks and even furoshiki cloths. These are some of my personal favourite souvenirs from Japan!
Overall Verdict: Is Sakuraco worth it?
So, what did I think of Sakuraco overall? I believe Sakuraco is worth it, especially for those of us who enjoy learning about Japanese history and culture through food.
The traditional snacks included hit a nice balance of sweet and savoury to create an ideal Japanese afternoon tea to share (or multiple just for yourself). I also love the focus of supporting local makers in Japan, this really sets Sakuraco apart from its competitors.
While we can’t look forward to a trip to Japan right now, it’s comforting to know we can have a box containing their traditions and culture delivered to our doorstep to enjoy at home.
What I liked about my Sakuraco box
- The overall aesthetic. I was so impressed by the small details. As opposed to TokyoTreat with its trendy, modern vibe and popular snacks, Sakuraco definitely carries a traditional feel. The design and personal touches made me feel like I had my own little slice of Japan from centuries past, in a box.
- Are the Japanese sweets vegetarian? Although I’m not vegetarian myself, I really appreciated that each item includes common allergens and whether it is vegetarian friendly (this can be a problem for some when visiting Japan).
- The detailed Snack Guide. As well as the overall layout and design, the Snack Guide is a reminder of traditional Japan as it is read from right to left. Featuring the local business name and the region they come from, each item is nicely personified in a way. This helps to familiarise you with snacks to buy from each region for when you’re actually in Japan.
- All the packaging, from the box exterior to the individual items. If you’re as obsessed with Japanese attention to detail as I am, you’re really going to appreciate this. Opening each item and the aromas that spring out from each is a little experience in itself!
- Looks can be deceiving! Despite the box appearing small at first, discovering just how much is actually packed in was a pleasant surprise.
- The thought to include items from local makers other than edible goods such as teas and homewares. It would be nice to accumulate a set of these over time to enjoy.
In my honest opinion, I had high expectations for this box. I absolutely adore the beauty of tradition and learning the history of things (yes, even for seemingly ordinary snacks, which is why I wrote an entire beginner’s guide to snacks from Japan).
I was over the moon when invited to review this box and I’m delighted to say Sakuraco exceeded my expectations. Through sharp attention to detail the box perfectly embodies omotenashi, the art of Japanese hospitality. The way in which this has all been executed is quite impressive and difficult for me to describe, so you’ll just have to see for yourself!
Room for improvement?
I’m not sure why, but the way some of the snacks were pictured online gave me the impression there would be a few of that kind within the box (the Strawberry Crepe Roll, for example) when there was only one.
In saying that, there were double of other items I was expecting there to only be one of, such as the Strawberry Castella cakes.
One thing I think may make some readers hesitant is the shipping cost. Until recently, TokyoTreat had free international shipping. But to keep pricing competitive, this meant the boxes could not be tracked. As mentioned earlier, reduced commercial flights for cargo meant boxes would take months to arrive, so keep in mind the shipping costs with Sakuraco covers trackable, express shipping.
Although I am personally happy to pay for a reliable shipping service, perhaps in the future Sakuraco may consider free international shipping again once commercial flights with cargo become regular again.
Final tips and important things to know before ordering your first box of Sakuraco
Your subscription doesn’t automatically expire once you’ve received the allocated boxes you ordered. This is important to note as Sakuraco won’t send you a reminder to cancel. Your subscription will automatically renew for the same period after you receive your final box.
For example, you’ll be charged another 3 month subscription if you initially subscribed for 3 months. If you need to postpone or cancel your subscription altogether, be sure to make a note to yourself and do so within your account settings to avoid extra charges and boxes.
If purchasing as a gift for someone, you will be charged the shipping fee, not the recipient.
Concluding this Sakuraco review: Now you know where to buy Japanese sweets online
So, there you have it with my overall Sakuraco review! The combination of elegant packaging, attention to detail and wonderful balance of flavours makes this an ideal in-home experience until we can revisit Japan. I love that the team is passionate about sharing the traditional side of Japanese snack making with us!
Are you ready to try a Sakuraco box, too?
Sending a huge thanks to Sakuraco for inviting me to be one of the first to review this unique product!
Thinking about visiting Japan someday? Why not check out my popular itineraries and travel guides while you’re here for inspiration? From must-see destinations to lesser-known places off the beaten path, I have your future Japan trip planning covered.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy your Sakuraco afternoon tea snacks as much as I did! Let me know what you think of bringing Japan to you in the comments below. If you found this helpful, check my other reviews, come and join me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok for more Japan inspiration!
Until next time,
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This Sakuraco review contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!