How To Spot High-Quality Japanese Snacks


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The world of Japanese snacks and sweets is a varied and rich landscape. Unfortunately, the variety of snacks is often affected by Japan’s changing seasons. The ingredients used and even the attitude of the person making the snack can have a massive impact on what is created and enjoyed. Many people want to try them from outside of Japan – and the internet can be your best resource!

Learning what snacks, sweets, or teas are worth your time (and your hard-earned dollars) can be a tricky process. Even more so, if you’re seeking out Japanese products you have to order online without physically seeing them.

Sakuraco is dedicated to producing high-quality Japanese snacks and home goods boxes. We are committed to providing the most authentic Japanese snacking experience. In addition, we’ve picked up a few tricks that help us to understand what to look out for when selecting what goes into the next authentic snack box. So, let us share a few with you to help you pick out what is a high-quality snack.

What is wagashi?

If you look up high-quality Japanese snacks, you might come across the word wagashi. Wagashi literally means “Japanese Sweets”. Typically wagashi is hand-made with love and care. Wagashi sweets are synonymous with high quality and luxury (even if they aren’t necessarily at luxury prices).

Wagashi came out of tea culture that first began to form in its modern state in the Edo period (1603-1867). They acted as a way to balance bitter tea with a gentle, sweet flavor. Because of the elegant flavor of wagashi, it has stayed the companion for tea drinkers for centuries.

Wagashi is often carefully crafted Japanese snacks and candy. Image via Shutterstock

Unfortunately, the care and love it takes to make them has a downside. Wagashi typically has a very short shelf life. Potentially only a few weeks or even hours before they are no longer at their peak. Typically wagashi does not travel well. Using wagashi as a model for high-quality snacks that you can purchase online from Japan is not the best. So… how can you tell what snacks are worth it?

Who makes your snacks?

All Japanese sweets and snacks come with their own unique journey and story. Some are Western snacks that came over from their respective countries that get a Japanese twist. Some Japanese snacks are inspired by Western snacks that give you a unique snacking experience. These typically come from larger snack companies like Nestle Japan, Coca-Cola Japan, or Glico. You can often find these highly popular snacks in a service like TokyoTreat.

Curious about trying Japanese traditional sweets found in Sakuraco boxes yourself? Sakuraco sends traditional Japanese snacks, tea and home goods, and a handy information booklet straight to your door every month.

However, if you’re looking for something more authentically inspired and closer to a uniquely Japanese snacking experience, looking at the maker can be critical to understanding the snack. Often these makers are smaller and family-owned, based in different regions throughout Japan.

Knowing more about the makers of your snack can help you judge what kind of experience they will be getting. Such as the story they tell or the people the snacks and business support. Being able to support these local businesses can also not only support the livelihoods of people in Japan. But also keep the Japanese traditional snack industry going strong.

Sakuraco Japanese snacks website
The Sakuraco website features a page about the makers of many Sakuraco items.

Traditional Japanese subscription box Sakuraco consistently aims to tell the stories of the makers we work with. We do this by highlighting their stories and the good things they do within their communities and local economy.

We recently created a short documentary series to help our makers tell their stories. Unlike other authentically inspired Japanese snack boxes such as Bokksu, we highlight particular stories. We outline the makers in our snack and culture guide to give you an insight into the snacks you are eating.

Connecting with the makers is important, but equally as important with your Japanese snack box experience.

Try as many authentic snacks as possible!

Japanese snacks come in varieties from mochi to senbei (rice crackers). Often the best way to come to understand Japanese snacks is to try them for yourself. Discovering the flavors, textures, and ingredients that work best for you is not only the most enjoyable way to discover how to judge the quality of Japanese snacks, but it’s also efficient too.

By trying them for yourself, you can come to understand just how stretchy mochi can be or how the subtle sweetness of anko (red bean paste) can elevate a snack.

Sakuraco is proud to only curate authentic Japanese snacks and select zero dagashi (Japanese penny candy made by larger, popular Japanese snack makers) to focus on the wide variety of snacks on offer made by smaller, local makers. Other boxes, including Bokksu, offer a balance between the more modern and traditional flavors. This includes wagashi and dagashi snacks that can be found in supermarkets overseas. Sakuraco is dedicated to curating and creating an authentic Japanese snacking experience.

Sakurco red themed snacks
Delicate and decadent sweet snacks from Sakuraco.

With a focus on highlighting flavors and ingredients from prefectures from all over Japan, including official partnerships with local Japanese governments to promote the beauty and uniqueness of that prefecture, and at the same time uncover more hidden gems from those prefectures. Explore different snacks and flavors from various prefectures across Japan.

Relax with some tea and refreshments!

Enjoying quality, seasonal Japanese snacks doesn’t have to be difficult. The team here at Sakuraco hand-selects Japanese snacks of the highest quality every single month so you don’t have to. You can just sit back, learn, and enjoy the delicious treats created exclusively by smaller, family-owned makers here in Japan!

Why not take a look at what you can take home with the next box by Sakuraco and take a sneak peek at what you’ll be trying?

Discover authentic flavors with Sakuraco

Enjoy new Japanese sweets, snacks and tea every month starting from $32.50USD

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Discover authentic flavors with Sakuraco

Enjoy new Japanese sweets, snacks and tea every month starting from $32.50USD

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