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Japan Crate Japanese Candy Subscription Review

by Shigeki Abe June 13, 2015 7 Comments

Japan Crate Japanese Snack subscription box Review

If you love Japanese snacks and subscription boxes, you’ve probably heard of Skoshbox and Japan Crate. We’ve reviewed Skoshbox before and thought it was a decent box for those that don’t live near a Japanese grocery store. Today, we take a look at Japan Crate. Skoshbox vs Japan Crate, which one will come out on top?

Ordering Process:

Japan Crate’s ordering process was pretty straightforward. It was easy to order, pause, and cancel orders. The canceling process can be a bit of a hassle for some subscription services, so it was good to see that all I needed to do was log into my account and press a cancel button. Keep in mind that similar to other food subscription boxes, you can’t customize what goes into the box so it’s an all or nothing proposition.

Japan Crate box

There was a slight problem with my order though. A few days before it was expected to ship out, Japan Crate emailed me and said that they had ran out of the Premium box that I ordered so I was forced to downgrade to one of their smaller boxes. But then a few days later, they emailed me again saying that they would be able to get me the Premium box. Not a big problem since I eventually received my original order.

Price & Value:

Japan Crate offers 3 tiers of boxes. The ‘Mini’ box starts at $12/month and contains 4-6 items. The ‘Original’ box starts at $25/month and includes 8-10 items. The ‘Premium’ box which I got starts at $30/month and includes 12-14 items plus a drink.  The prices include free shipping in the USA. Also every month, a lucky subscriber can win a Sugoi Crate which is valued at over $500, so that’s pretty neat.

Japan Crate pricing

In terms of value, my ‘Premium’ box cost $30 and included 13 different snacks, a Japanese drink, and a little toy. Is this a good deal? I would say it’s on par with Skoshbox. The original Skoshbox cost $12 and included about $4 worth of snacks. The new bigger Skoshbox cost $24 and had about $8 worth of snacks. The $30 Japan Crate includes about $11 worth of goods.

Packaging:

Japan Crate was shipped in a red cardboard box via USPS. Inside sat a postcard which had a comic showing their monthly giveaway and a description of the snacks on the back. Unlike Skoshbox, the postcard didn’t list the snack ingredients so those with allergies might have to be careful. Some of the snacks did have nutrition and ingredient labels in English but still many did not. The box itself was very cute. I especially liked the fun design on the inner flap of the lid.

Japan Crate japanese snack subscription box review

The box was jam packed with snacks held together by a sheet of tissue paper. This doesn't seem to provide much cushion for the more fragile snacks. As a matter of fact, some of my snacks arrived broken or crushed. Overall the packaging was decent, but not stellar. I actually give higher points to Skoshbox for packaging. Skoshbox has a better designed box, the postcard is more informative, and there are small details to the packaging that make it seem more personable.

japancrate review

The Snacks:

So how are the snacks? Here’s a quick rundown of everything that was included in this Japanese snack subscription box.

Ramune Marble Gum: From Japan Crate’s description: “Citrus-y and delicious ramune flavored gumballs. These pack a small hint of fizziness just like a real Japan ramune soda.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

Ramune is one of my favorite drinks so I was definitely looking forward to this gum. Unfortunately, the gum was ok at best. It was too sugary and had a strong artificial flavor, leaving a weird aftertaste in my mouth. The flavor of the gum actually lasted a lot longer than I expected though.

TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read): Too sugary but has long-lasting flavor.

White Chocolate Big Bar Z: “A big wafer bar similar in texture to a giant KitKat. A once crunchy bar soaked in smooth, decadent white chocolate.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

This was pretty darn tasty! Imagine a freshly made churro dipped in white chocolate. It had just the right amount of sweetness and crispiness. This was my favorite one from the box by far.

TLDR: Really good!

Little Gang Grape: “This pouch is packed with grape fun. Gum that starts off with a Pop Rocks-like crackle and ends as tangy grape gum.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

I was expecting the bits of gum to be purple, but instead it was grayish white. I thought it would be like Pop Rocks, but was sorely disappointed as I didn’t get much of a pop when I bit into it. On top of that, the texture was terrible, and it felt like I was eating pieces of old cardboard. The flavor was a bit lackluster and didn’t taste much like grape.

TLDR: Didn’t pop and had a stale texture.

Red Potion/Black Potion: “How do you chew gum? Find out where gum first hits your tongue with this mouth painting gum. Red & Black cola gum that changes your tongue colors!”

Japancrate japanese snack subscription review

The name of this gum was mistranslated; it should actually read ‘Red Tongue/Black Tongue’. There were two pieces of gum in this item. It might be very fun for kids, as the red one turned my mouth bright red, and the black one turned my mouth super black. Unfortunately, the gum itself tasted awful, like a really bad vitamin drink. The black gum was a bit more sour than the red one. The flavors lasted a while, but I’m not sure that’s something you want with these.

TLDR: Fun concept, but tasted awful.

Snow Pea Chips: “Crunchy snow pea chips made from real snow peas.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

Another translation error…it should actually read green peas, and not snow peas. These were corn puff snacks flavored lightly like peas. While that doesn’t sound appetizing, it was actually pretty good. The chips had a nice airy yet crunchy texture and a hint of green pea flavor. The only downside was that it was super oily.

TLDR: Pretty good with nice crispy texture, but very oily.

Choco Kinako Mochi DIY: “Build mini chocolate mochi with this unique DIY kit. Add water to the white discs to activate the mochi, dip, and enjoy.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review Japan crate japanese snack subscription review Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

Kinako is roasted soybean flavor and is used in many traditional Japanese snacks. These snacks took about 5 minutes to make. It was a bit messy, but very fun and pretty tasty. The instructions didn’t show how much water to add to the dried mochi, so I think I over watered them, but they turned out ok in the end. The kinako and chocolate combination was pretty good.

TLDR: Messy but fun DIY snack. Tastes pretty good.

Kirby Blend-Blend Mix Gum: “Create your own gum flavors using the five included base flavors. Watch out for grey! It’s a prank color that blocks sweet flavors from your tongue.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

The concept of this gum is very cool. Basically, there are 5 different base flavors of gumballs and gray mystery gumball. You can combine different flavors to achieve unique new flavors, while the gray mystery gumball promises to dampen any flavor. For example, if you combine the yogurt and soda gumballs, it will taste like cream soda! How fun is that!? Good concept, but none of the flavor combinations turned out to taste quite like what they said. Instead, all of the gumballs tasted like a generic fruity sugary flavor. The mystery gumball did work though! As soon as I combined the gray with the other gumballs, it completely removed all of the flavors. Pretty fascinating!

TLDR: Fun concept, but poorly executed.

Matcha Green Tea Peajoy: “Pejoy is like inside-out Pocky. Crispy, crunchy biscuit sticks stuffed with creamy green tea filling.”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

From the moment I opened the packaging, it smelled like delicious green tea. Just as the description says, this is like an inside-out Pocky stick. The green tea flavor was a bit on the sweeter side than I would have liked, but it was still pretty tasty. The only downside is that about 50% of my sticks were broken.

TLDR: An inside-out Pocky stick. Very tasty.

Talking Puppy Chocolate: “The cutest crispy rice chocolate bar around with a cute puppy on the package and a heat-activated puppy pun joke card inside.”

cute japanese chocolate

The packaging is very cute, but at first glance, I thought it was a doggy biscuit! The heat-activated collectible card is pretty neat. As for the chocolate, it tastes just like a crunch bar.

TLDR: Just like a Crunch bar, but more fun.

Kawaii Ramune: “This kawaii ramune drink is a new shape for marble ramune. Pop the marble from the cap using the tool provided and enjoy.”

japanese ramune drink

I love ramune, so I enjoyed this a lot! It seemed to be a bit sweeter than the original ramune but it was still very good.

TLDR: I <3 Ramune!

Magic Bubble Jelly DIY: “Mix the powders with water to change the color and the texture of this candy. Grape flavored magic jelly that changes in front of you!”

Japan crate japanese snack subscription review Japan crate japanese snack subscription review

This snack took over 5 minutes to make and was definitely the most complex DIY snack I’ve ever made. Once made, it looks like a foam but with a weird jelly-like consistency. The texture was like eating baby food and unfortunately, the flavor was not much better. It did taste like grape, but it left a really strong aftertaste in my mouth. I would probably never willingly eat this again.

TLDR: Takes a while to make. Weird texture and tastes terrible.

Happy Paws Gummy: “These juicy peach paw gummies are so soft you just might think you’re holding hands with a cuddly kitten.”

kawaii cute Japanese candy gummies

I’m usually not a fan of gummies, but these were pretty good. Just like the description says, they are shaped like kitten paws and are super soft and squishy. It wasn’t too sweet or chewy and it had a nice, subtle peach flavor.

TLDR: Pretty good gummies.

Choco Banana Pocky: “The newest release from Pocky, these are a tasty and genius spin on the classic chocolate covered banana. Crispy chocolate sticks covered in yummy banana.”

chocolate banana pocky japanese snack

If you like banana split sundaes, these are for you. They are very similar to the Banana Pocky I reviewed before. The only difference that I can tell is that these tasted a little bit creamier.

TLDR: If you like bananas and Pocky, these are for you.

Matcha Green Tea KitKats: “A mellow and creamy green tea flavor, these Green tea Kit Kats are made using real Uji Gyokuro tea leaves from Japan.”

green tea kit kat

These Kit Kats are from the ‘Otona no Amasa’ series, meaning the sweetness is subdued compared to regular KitKats. The green tea flavor is very prominent compared to even other green tea KitKats, but I personally found these delicious. I could eat these for days.

TLDR: If you like green tea and KitKats, there’s nothing better.

Bonus Gift: “Receive 1 of 10 figures as a bonus item! Totoro and his friends are friendly forest spirits from the anime, My Neighbor Totoro.”

japan crate bonus gift

Cute little figurines, similar to what you would get from Gachaponsin Japan. The quality of the bonus toy is not great since you can see the plastic mold lines and the design is a bit off (to get around copyright issues), but it’s a nice touch to the box.

Overall Impression:

Japan Crate is a decent option for people who like to discover wacky Japanese snacks. Similar to Skoshbox, if you live near an Asian grocery store, everything in the box is something you can pick up at a lower price in the stores. However, if you don’t have access to a Japanese store, then Japan Crate might be good for you. Personally, I found Japan Crate’s snacks to be a bit underwhelming. It was filled with very low-quality snacks, and a majority of the candies were gum.

Also it seemed a bit misleading because on their website, it said that they work exclusively with Japanese manufacturers to bring snacks that you can only find in Japan. Unfortunately, this isn’t true since I can find all of the snacks at my local Japanese grocery store. Not only that, but it seems like Japan Crate gets most of their snacks from AsianFoodGrocery.com and not directly from ‘manufacturers in Japan’ like they claim.

japan crate review

So Skoshbox vs Japan Crate? Which one is the better deal? Japan Crate's ordering process was better and they do offer more snacks per box. But the snacks in Japan Crate seems a bit haphazardly put together with lower quality snacks. For example, Japan Crate’s box had a disproportionate amount of gum in it and only one savory snack, while Skoshbox had a good mixture of both sweet and savory snacks. If you ordered either the Mini or Original Japan Crate, a huge majority of your box would be filled with gum. Japan Crate also had translation errors and their packaging was very barebones whereas Skoshbox had better-designed boxes and small details like stickers and thank you notes. However, I do think Japan Crate would be better for kids because of their wacky, fun, and interactive snacks. And it comes with a little toy!

Overall, I think Japan Crate is good to send as a gift or to try for a month or two. But I don’t think I would subscribe to it for longer than a couple months.

Liked this post? Check out our other Japanese snack reviews!

Shigeki Abe
Shigeki Abe

Founder of Snakku; Born in Tokyo and raised in New York, Shigeki has always traveled and explored the world through food.


7 Responses

luis
luis

August 15, 2016

I love sucribe

Josh
Josh

July 17, 2016

You can buy 95% of what is in Japan Crate at your local Asian market!

Warren
Warren

February 10, 2016

I guess every month is gum month jay

Eric Wen
Eric Wen

February 09, 2016

The Totoro is bootleg from Alibaba: http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/HOT-Anime-My-Neighbor-Totoro-Set_60172703052.html?spm=a2700.7724838.38.19.uciJKc

They’ve been sending lots of counterfeits recently:
https://www.facebook.com/goodsmileenglish/photos/a.129413530475308.33481.122978557785472/933095336773786/?type=3&theater

jay3
jay3

November 10, 2015

Though I am seriously considering signing up for Snakku, I find it highly discouraging that you moderate and reject comments that don’t fit your point of view. My comment, ‘posted’ ten days ago and still not showing up, had nothing negative about Snakku and it was polite with no abusive language. It just disagreed with how you rated Japan Crate. I find the fact you moderated and rejected my comment very disappointing, since such behavior is a reflection of customer service. If you cannot accept that other’s disagree with how you rated someone else’s box, then how can anyone believe that you will listen to customers regarding the box you curate. If this is what Snakku’s customer service looks like then I’m not sure I want to give such a company my money. To be honest, I expect you to moderate and reject this comment. However, it would be honest if you allowed my previous comment to actually be posted and show up. If you do so, I won’t hesitate to subscribe to Snakku, But right now, I am very conflicted in giving a hundred dollars to a company that ignores it’s customers.

TonyHoang
TonyHoang

November 04, 2015

I love your candy very good.

jay
jay

October 30, 2015

The gum criticism was way off. Like Snakku, their boxes are themed each month. The month you received was gum theme, Snakku’s August box was rusk themed. Japan Crate’s October box had zero gums or gum-flavored items. I might as well rate Snakku’s boxes as poor because they have too many rusks.

In my opinion, the snacks & packaging are on par with Tokyo Treat, which you rate significantly higher. For both, I can get most of items at my local Japanese grocery store. The amount and cost of treats is similar. Tokyo Treat premium box costs $5 more than Japan Crate’s and seems they add one or two more treats. Very comparable.

Japan Crate advertises itself primary as a candy box – snack box secondarily. If you look at their homepage, they talk about ‘candy’ nine times, compared to ‘snack’ twice. So to complain about it being a sweets box is illogical since you got what you paid for. And there are plenty of people who are interested in getting sweets and couldn’t care less about the savory. You buy the boxes that fit your tastes.

The part of the criticism that is fair, is that they get most of their items from AsianFoodGrocery.com, especially since they claim it comes from “manufacturers in Japan”. Also, that items may come broken or crushed, though I’ve only had that happen to one item.

I’d also add a vote for Japan Crate’s customer support. When I sent an email, they responded in less than an hour. They sent out the broken item x4 the next day. So for the pain of writing an email, I got three extras, so I’m not really complaining.

I think Snakku provides very different boxes to Japan Crate, so I wouldn’t compare the two. I just think you’re being very unfair to Japan Crate, especially when compared to how you reviewed other boxes. But we all have a right to our opinions.

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