Sakuraco – August 2023: Festivals of Okinawa

Sakuraco takes the snack box concept and kicks it up several notches. It’s a box full of beautiful artisanal treats and snacks from Japan, and often features small-batch, handmade, and specialty items from all over the country according to the theme.

This month’s theme takes us to the beautiful tropical location of Okinawa with the Festivals of Okinawa box.

The menu booklet tells you all about each item. There are notes on the the producer, the history and culture, and a full allergen reference. You can also read some wonderful articles about the culture and events showcased by the theme. The photography is beautiful as well, I’ve been reading through it and deciding that Okinawa is definitely very high on my bucket list!

The Summer Senbei have a pretty firework pattern, for the summer fireworks festivals of Japan. The crunchy rice cracker is flavoured with honey and soy sauce, which gives it a wonderful sweet-salty depth.

Mochi are a popular sweet treat in Japan, and this Pineapple Mochi Manju is a layer of Manju, which is a sweet pastry, containing traditional starchy rice mocha which is in turn filled with pineapple infused red bean paste. The pineapple is from Okinawa, and there are few things that are more strongly associated with everything tropical.

Kokomo Peanuts feature on of Okinawa’s most famous products – Okinawan brown sugar, which is rich in minerals and has an exceptionally complex taste. The wonderful molasses and caramel notes are the perfect foil for crunchy savoury peanuts.

Uchiwa fans are a popular sight in the hot summer months. Made from paper and bamboo, the pretty bingata design was originally for Okinawa nobles, but now is  found almost everywhere.

As a complement to this fan, there are also two Uchiwa Festival Cookies which are the same shape and have cute designs in honey icing. The cookies themselves are very crisp and slightly fragile, and the flavour is not too sweet.

Salt is another specialty of Okinawa, and the Okinawan Sea Salt Senbi are simply but deliciously flavoured with the local sea salt.

Along with the sea salt, we have an amazingly-shaped Sawfish Senbei. These are handmade and baked and seasoned with the producer’s special secret recipe of soy sauce, for a gorgeous umami crispy taste that’s almost too pretty to eat!

Another manju pastry, this time Kokutou Manju, where the pastry is gently steamed for exceptional lightness, and infused with Okinawa brown sugar with a red bean filling. These are rich and delicious and go extremely well with a cup of tea.

Pickled Daikon Okaki are rice crackers whose flavour is a renowned specialty in Japan. Iburi gakko is a picked radish that has a unique flavour that is time-consuming and complex to produce, and has a remarkable flavour. These rice crackers completely capture the flavour, which is absolutely unique.

Karinto are deep-fried crispy bites, and these Sakura Karinto have been infused with cherry blossom leaves for a delicate and delicious throwback to the sakura season of spring.

Okinawan Chili Oil Arare have a wonderful spicy bite. Made from Okinawan chili, they have a crunchy texture that goes beautifully with the heat.

Sanpin Tea is another Okinawan specialty. It’s been produced for centuries, and has a beautiful floral aroma and is said to be extremely good for the digestion.

Donuts in Japan aren’t the rings of dough we think of when we think of a donut! Instead they can have many different flavours kneaded into the dough, such as these Beni Imo Donut Boy, a rich chewy finger that contains the purple sweet potatoes that grow in this region. Rather like a slightly moist cake, it’s both rich and light, and has a delicious, slightly earthy flavour, as well as a delicate pinkish colour.

Red Tomato Arare, aren’t the most obvious flavour for arare (crispy rice cracker) but this tangy flavour really brings the freshness of summer.

Our score: 9.2/ 10

I'm always fascinated by the different flavours and varieties in the Sakuraco box. I love discovering and trying out the various regional specialties, and reading about them in the booklet adds a special dimension to the flavours. I think the only thing that I'm mildly disappointed with this month is the fan, the non-food item. It's very pretty, but it's fragile and I'm not sure how long it's going to last. It certainly won't travel well, as it's just too easy to damage. In comparison with the items in previous boxes, such as exquisite little dishes and glasses, it doesn't feel like great value in comparison. But otherwise I'm completely sold on this month's selection. Particular favourites are the peanuts - the brown sugar flavour is amazing - and the pineapple manju. I can't think of anything else that brings the flavours of the tropics to life more!

  • Quality of products9
  • Originality10
  • Packaging and delivery10
  • Value for money9
  • Selection of products8

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