Travel to Japan Without Leaving Home With Japan Crate

Crosspost Featured Reviews Travel

One of the most fun things about traveling to another country is trying the food. So if you are stuck at home, you may wonder how you can replicate the experience. Though you’d have to track down an authentic restaurant to eat the real, hearty food of a country, you can sometimes experience pre-packaged treats from around the world through a subscription service.

I was lucky enough to get to try out Japan Crate recently, and my family and I loved trying quite a number of included Japanese snack foods. Most of them were dessert-like, but a few of them were more savory.

The Box

The first thing I noticed, obviously, was the themed box. It’s covered in striking art that depicts cultural references, architectural and geographical landmarks, and other things we associate with Japan.

I wasn’t sure what to expect inside, but I definitely didn’t expect a story to follow. (I’m a subscription box newbie.) This Japan Crate was themed “Lost in Japan,” and the included booklet took you on a tour of Japan with 18 stops along the way, each one punctuated by a food or other product inside the box.

I won’t spoil the tale, but I’ll just say it’s action-packed, and at various points, a giant lizard and a fish market are involved. And don’t forget the cherry blossoms!

The Food

But is the food any good? With one exception (for my family), we say definitely yes. So many different tasty treats. Here’s our breakdown:

1. Hyoroku Mochi

This wrapped box of mini mochi was a surprise. Inside was enough mochi for my whole family of four (I think there was six total), each individually wrapped in a plastic-y film. Unusual candies I’ve tried in the past were a clue to me that you were supposed to eat the wrapper, and that it was probably rice-based. I was right that you were meant to eat it; it dissolved easily and quickly. These were a fun textural treat and tasted like green tea.

2. Anchovy Bonito Shutou Chips

This was the one treat that my family was not able to appreciate. I don’t like fish, and the other three didn’t think it belonged in a snack. I think only one of us actually tried this one and then didn’t love it. Our cats kept trying to get in the bag, though!

3. Crunky Chocolate With Nuts

This one was a delicious hazelnut chocolate bar that tasted a bit like Ferrero Rocher.

4. Chocolate Ball Pillow

Tasty but tiny. This was one I couldn’t share with the others.

5. Milky Picola Sticks

These sticks were kind of sweet but a little low on flavor, but they had a really nice bite to them.

6. Petite Maeda Crackers

This cracker (there were two tiny ones in the package) didn’t taste like too much, but it was like a firm, flat oyster cracker. I’d eat it again, especially with tiny bits of cheese.

7. Traditional Heart Chocolate

This heart was solid chocolate and delicious but tasted different from U.S. chocolate (which is often a good thing).

8. Shimichoko Stick

This treat was an interesting one. It was puffed rice with chocolate formed into an extruded churro-type shape. It was delicious and tasted a bit like the chocolate layered wafer sticks you can get. I’d eat it again in a heartbeat.

9. Koalas March

These were much like the Hello Panda treats we’ve had before (which are available seasonally at Costco), but the chocolate was firmer. Yum!

10. Big Marshmallow

This appropriately named treat is just a dense, tasty marshmallow. That’s it. It looks, feels, and smells like a long marshmallow. But it is a very good marshmallow.

11. Choco Flakes

These chocolate treats have a fabulous flavor and texture.

12. Fugashi Square Puff

This unusual snack tasted a little like sweet Styrofoam with a slight toasted/burned flavor (depending on your perspective).

13. Scary Story Chewing Gum

This treat was a small flat square of gum that came with a “scary” story printed on paper inside. We tried to grasp what the story was about through Google Translate, but I think some of it was lost in translation, as it wasn’t very scary. The gum was decent, though, smelling and tasting like bubble gum flavor.

14. Camembert and Gorgonzola Snack

These were delicious and tasted like those Nabisco Cheese Tid-Bit crackers from my childhood.

15. Dydo Milkshake

We were surprised to see a drink in the box! It was a cute little can that had enough for all four of us to try. It had artificial sweetener in it, so beware. It was a little watery, a little like sweetened condensed milk. It tasted like something familiar but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it.

16. Gundam Aerial Rich Cheddar Cheese Snack

I thought these tasted like cheesy popcorn, and others thought they were like cheesy Bugles. They have a great texture, a good shape, and lots of air inside and crunch. Kid #1 didn’t care for them, but the rest of us did. I’d buy these again!

17. Gachapon (Capsule Toy)

This capsule toy serves as the treasure at the end of your adventure. Inside mine was a plastic zipper pouch with a train on it and a carabiner attached. It took some doing to permanently flatten it out, and I don’t think the zipper will last too long, but it’s fun and could hold something very small and flat.

18. Puyoyon Jellyfish Aquarium Jelly

The instructions for making your own gummy candy are detailed on the back of the package, in Japanese, of course, and it was only later that I remembered that they were also in English in the booklet. We haven’t tried this one yet, but it should prove to be an interesting post-adventure experience! Google Translate says it’s pineapple soda flavored.

In addition to these many goodies, the box inexplicably included a bonus item of a chocolate orange KitKat! That’s always a winner in my book.

There was also a Japanese-style scratcher card. Winners could win a flight to Japan or a VR headset to make it seem like they were in Japan! The rest of us (spoiler: I didn’t win anything) got to scan a QR code for a live feed of a street in Japan.

The Cost

How much does Japan Crate cost? If you just buy one month, it’s $49.95. But if you pre-subscribe for 12 months, the price goes down to $45.78 per month.

Is It Worth It?

Is it worth the money? If you have a fair amount of disposable income or want an occasional food experience that you can’t get easily in the United States, then I’d say yes, it’s definitely worth the money. If you’re strapped for cash, then this might be a big splurge, but you could go in on it with a friend or two. Most of the treats included had plenty to share. My family had a good time with it, and it was nice for us to have a shared experience, which we spread over several days.

The company has other crates that might also be of interest, including Umai Crate (instant noodles), Doki Doki Crate (kawaii items… this is the one I’d want!), Inku (stationary), and Gacha Gacha (gachapon capsules). Prices for these other crates vary but are of a similar level to the Japan Crate (though Inku and Gacha Gacha are a bit cheaper).

Note: I received a Japan Crate for review purposes.

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