The assortment of regional Japanese goodies brings excitement to otherwise unremarkable days.

By Maria Yagoda
October 14, 2020
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Credit: Bokksu

I don't know the next time I'll step onto a plane, and that breaks my heart. Before the pandemic, I was lucky enough to travel internationally several times a year, usually reporting stories. That profound sense of wonder from, say, getting lost in a snowy Norwegian village, or exploring a Japanese 7-Eleven for the first time, is impossible to recreate at home, even as we're Zooming into the Uffizi Gallery and taking virtual tours of Buckingham Palace.

When I received a subscription Japanese snack box called Bokksu, I got closer to that thrill of travel than I have since the world shut down in March. The surprise assortment of 20 to 25 artisanal snacks, prized in cities and regions throughout Japan, shows up at your door once a month, or as often as you'd like.

Though the company has been around since 2016—perhaps the peak of the subscription-box craze—I recently tried a Bokksu box for the first time, hoping it would wrestle me from my afternoon Cheez-Its rut (absolutely no disrespect to Cheez-Its).

Credit: Bokksu

The process of opening my box was nothing less than thrilling. Shipped straight from Japan, every single goodie was something I'd never before tasted or seen, even on my snack-fueled trip to the country in 2018. It was exciting to sort through, even before eating. Many of the snacks are sourced from family businesses, some centuries-old.

My box included rich Hokkaido red bean doughnuts, crunchy black sesame taiko from Kumamoto, edamame cracker-like senbei, handmade yuzu sake candy, and enough sweet and savory treats to help me forget, if for a moment, that I hate this year so, so much.

The super-savory, slightly funky uni rice crackers are one of my favorite things in a while. The organic genmaicha tea—a combination of green tea and roasted brown rice—was the hot, nutty, comforting beverage my soul desperately needed.

Boxes include a deeply detailed pamphlet describing each snack, which is useful considering that some of the snacks don't have any English on them. (I discovered the savory rice crackers I so enjoyed were flavored with sea urchin after I finished the bag.) The pamphlet also offers a map of Japan, indicating the regions that each item comes from. If you miss travel as much as I do, and could stand to liven up your pandemic snacking routine, Bokksu lets you pretend you're somewhere else.