It’s February 2023 and Japan Crate has come out with their ‘Box of Love’. Fittingly for Valentine’s Day, the theme seems to primarily be chocolate this month.
If you’ve not seen our previous posts about Japan Crate, they’re a popular subscription box service by Sugoi Mart that send out a box with 18-20 Japanese snacks every month. These always include a Japanese-only drink and Japanese Kit-Kats. They do boxes with other themes too, like gacha, noodles, stationary, and cute items. We’ve taken a look at several of their boxes if you’d like to take a look.
This is the first month of their Japan Crate 2.0, which has a few changes. Each month, there will now be a specific theme, this month’s being Valentine’s. The tracking has been improved and it now promises to get to you within 2-5 days. Each month will have an interactive game. There’s a bonus non-candy item included too.
I was a little curious when I heard interactive game or ‘in-crate experience’ as it’s also been called, wondering what they could include. At least this month, it looks like it’s a nicely designed Valentine’s card where you can win prizes. The big prize looks to be a life-size custom statue of your dream person, which is pretty cool (I’m not sure Ryza counts – copyright might be an issue!). I received a discount code for DIY Kits for Japanese-themed experiences such as making Onigiri or Matcha.
Bonus Item – Nyan of Love
The bonus item is the ‘Nyan of Love’, a rather cute ceramic lucky cat, which is playing a Biwa (Japanese short-necked wooden lute). These are supposed to bring good luck to the owner. Perhaps being a Valentine’s one, this might bring luck in love?
I really like having something to display after finishing off all the candy, so I hope this trend continues in future Japan Crates. It’s a nice-looking piece too, with a happy expression. It goes well on my shelf with my figures, even if the theming is quite different.
Potato and Popcorn
The Japan Crates tend to include two large bags of snacks. In this case, it’s a bag of potato chips and a bag of popcorn.
The Snow March Salted Chips from Koikeya were absolutely huge in chip size and rather thick too. It advertises Japan-grown ingredients. Unlike the past two months, the potato chips this time around didn’t have an intense flavor, instead being a more subtle salted taste.
Mike’s Popcorn Salt Butter from Frito Lays was a surprise. I’ve seen salted popcorn and butter popcorn before, and even salted butter, but not salted butter popcorn. It has an unusual taste not similar to butter or salted popcorn I’d find locally, being slightly more bitter. Considering that I usually find butter popcorn sickly, this is a positive. I ended up eating most of the pack without realizing it, despite it being quite big.
Chocolate, Crackers, and Pasta!?
The Hokkaido Cream Chocolate (or Bourbon Hi-Chocolat Sepiart) not only fits the theme but was a real highlight. It’s a bag full of individually wrapped incredibly creamy chocolates. Slowly melting in the mouth to reveal an inner core of solid chocolate crème, they’re certainly tastier than Cadbury or Hershey bars.
I quite liked the Prime Crackers Spicy Camembert too. The box contained two bags of crackers with cheese filling. They’re quite tiny, only about 2.5cm wide, which made them nice to snack on slowly. While spicy is in the title and is noticeable, they’re only mildly spicy, with the cheese taste being the key flavor.
The Fettuccine Italian Grape Gummy is oddly themed. Fettuccine refers to little ribbons of pasta, which in this case are little ribbons of grape-flavored gummy with a strong grape smell. Despite being coated in sugar, I found them only mildly sweet which made them easy to quickly go through.
Sticks and Bars
Policky Brown Sugar Sticks don’t sound too exciting, but they’re quite nice. It’s a pack of ten pretzel sticks that smell and taste quite malty, with a hint of sweetness to them.
The Dipping Pero Chocolate Sticks are a bit more eye-catching, with the cute design of a winking blue creature on them. These ones are breadsticks with some rather rich chocolate spread to dip in them. The only downside was that there wasn’t much spread inside.
Chocolate Umaibo is a puffed corn snack coated in chocolate, denser than some other corn puff snacks. It’s kind of an interesting mix, though not as much as some options. While chocolate is certainly seasonably appropriate, apparently these come in all sorts of flavors from cheese to chicken curry. I’d really like to try some of the more offbeat ones.
The Sequoia Strawberry Chocolate Bar has a strawberry-flavored coating on top, milk chocolate on the bottom, and a thin wafer center. These combine nicely, with the strawberry flavor being most notable and I certainly enjoyed it. The very pink top side is definitely on theme too.
Beware the Sour Grape (Sonomanma Grape) are something I’d love a whole bag of. It’s three soft gumballs that all appear the same. One is really sour, surprisingly so at first, but not bad. The other two are juicy. It could work nicely as a roulette with friends to see who gets the ‘fun’ reaction.
The Barley Chocolate Puffs weren’t what I expected. I was thinking of something like Coco Puffs, but they were more like chocolate-covered Honey Puffs. It’s only a little taster pack, but it’s interesting.
Looking at the Hello Kitty Chocolate, it looks perfectly like the Kitty White from Hello Kitty in terms of shape. It has a mix of white chocolate front, and milk chocolate back, with a nice pink bow as a highlight to make up the design. The appearance is the key point here, but it was delicious too.
The Tomica Chocolate is a little car-shaped piece of chocolate, with small lumps of something crunchy inside. Not too much to say here, apart from it tasted nice.
Sumikko Gurashi Gum is a small piece of gum with a strong fruity flavor and a character design on the front. It’s a nice addition and even has a groove in the middle to snap in two to share.
Shaped like a beer mug, the Kanpai Ramune Candy is a really nice container for the candy. It even has plastic ‘beer foam’. The candy itself is some pleasant Ramune-flavored ‘tablets’ that dissolve slowly in your mouth.
Kit Kat, Jelly, and Ice Cream
The Shake Shake Grape Jelly Drink (Pokka Sapporo Ribbon Grape Juice) tastes really nice and was quite refreshing. After chilling and shaking, it’s a slightly thick liquid with bits of jelly inside, giving it an interesting texture. I’d really like a whole box of these, but I can’t even find them in the online import stores here.
As always, there’s a bag of mini Kit Kats included, this time being the Kit Kat Milk Tea. With white chocolate, they’re sweet but not too sweet due to the size. I could taste the tea flavor, especially in the aftertaste. They’re a nice treat.
I always enjoy the DIY candy kits in Japan Crate as something a little different. This time around it’s a Nericho Ice Cream DIY. It’s made up of a pack of tiny white spheres, three tiny ice cream cones, a tray, and a small spoon. Adding two teaspoons of water over the water in the tray and stirring until I worked it into a thick foam, which I then scooped the foam into the cones. It smelled nice and sweet, which made sense – the taste was basically sugar.
Ordering Japan Crate?
The Japan Crate comes at $49.95 per month, with discounts if you prepay. Despite it saying it needs to calculate delivery when ordering, that’s also noted as free and came up as such when I tried, which is good considering that international delivery is certainly pricey.
It’s a nice mix of items and as usual, they’re things that I can’t get even by ordering online, or at least not easily. This month was certainly very on theme too, with a good amount of the candy being chocolate based. As mentioned, I was happy to find that Japan Crate included a small item to keep too.
Many thanks go to Japan Crate/Sugoi Mart for sending out a sample for this feature.
You may also be interested in checking out our look at the Sugoi Mart Anime Set.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.