Japan Crate: The Definitive Six-Month Long Review We ate 10.59 lbs and $180 worth of Japanese candy so you don't have to

    For the past half year, a pile of bright red boxes sat in the corner of our office, growing by one box per month. Inside each box was Japanese candy, snacks, drinks, and (sometimes) toys. Our plan was to review the Japan Crate Japanese snack box subscription service.

    It all started a year earlier, with our Japanese Candy Box Battle Royale. We reviewed seven different Japanese candy subscription services, but only considered a single month's box with each. We wondered: what if a box got way better the next month? Or way worse? By reviewing only one month, there was no way to put together a fair or accurate review.

    So we decided to put one of these companies to the test. We chose our favorite at the time, Japan Crate, and let the subscription run for six months. Then we unboxed, catalogued, sampled, recorded, researched, and judged. This review is the result of all our gorging.

    Note to the reader: Tofugu was not paid to do a Japan Crate review. In fact, we paid for these boxes ourselves, because we wanted to be sure Japan Crate wasn't sending us "special" boxes to help their chances.

    What is Japan Crate?

    red box labeled japan crate

    Japan Crate is a subscription box. You pay a monthly fee to have packages of Japanese snacks sent to your doorstep. You don't have any control over what Japanese snacks you'll get, but you can control the crate size you subscribe to. For our review, we subscribed to the "Premium" size, but you can subscribe to the "Mini" and "Original" versions as well.

    • Mini
      • $12/mo
      • ½ pound
      • 4-6 items
    • Original
      • $25/mo
      • 1 pound
      • 1 DIY Kit guaranteed
      • 8-10 items
    • Premium
      • $30/mo
      • 2+ pounds
      • Includes drink
      • 1 DIY Kit guaranteed
      • A "revolving bonus item"
      • 12-14 items

    "These would be great with tea!"

    Kristen's thoughts on Hachimitsu 100%

    When choosing a subscription, there are 1, 3, 6, and 12 month plans. Prices get cheaper as the plans get longer. But only by a little. Be aware there are no refunds, and these charges do automatically recur (cancel after subscribing to stop this). Otherwise, the terms are ordinary and straightforward.

    Japan Crate ships everywhere in the U.S. for free, even non-contiguous states and territories. They'll ship almost anywhere else in the world too (for an extra shipping fee). But note there are sixteen exceptions they won't ship to.

    Japan Crate is one of the most successful and popular Japanese snack subscription services out there. But, are they deserving of their position? And more importantly, is their box worth your money? Get ready to feast your eyes on 10+ lbs of Japanese snacks, followed by our thoughts and a final verdict.

    Box 1 - December 2015

    open box of Japanese candy

    Estimated Value: $14.07

    Weight: 2.26 lbs

    As far as the boxes go, this one was a great start. Two large bags of candy (Fujiya Lollipops and Hiya Shuwa Cola) plus unique items like the drink mixes and Black Bean & Soy Sauce Scones. Even though one of the drink mixes tasted like death, it didn't hurt the overall enjoyment of this box.

    japan crate december candies, in a grid

    "A lot of goo, not a lot of melon. But unique!"

    Kristen's thoughts on Pachishuwa Dynamite Melon Soda

    1. Black Bean & Soy Sauce Scones
      Don't let the word "scone" throw you. The brand スコーン is more like Cheetos. In fact, it's exactly Cheetos, shape and all. The main difference is the various flavors. This one is is black bean soy sauce and corn.
    2. Awa Moco Moco
      This is a drink mix, like a Kool-Aid with foam at the top. It tastes like a chemical nightmare.
    3. Pocky Demitasse
      A box of Pocky for all you otaku. But it's a more grown-up dark chocolate variety, meant to mature your palate and make you more sophisticated.
    4. Hiya Shuwa Cola
      A big bag of cola flavored hard candies. They taste exactly like a super sweet cola (minus the carbonation).
    5. Pachishuwa Dynamite Melon Soda
      This is a tube of sweet green goo. It's hard to eat/drink in one sitting.
    6. Cute Tororin Parfait DIY
      A powder that mixes with milk. You chill the mixture for 5 minutes and add toppings. Makes an interesting pudding type dessert.
    7. Naga-i Sawagumi Orange
      Delicious sour gummy rope. Like someone made a human centipede out of orange Sour Patch Kids.
    8. Bad Kid Beer
      This powder mixes into a beer-like drink so kids can pretend they're alcoholics. Just like daddy!
    9. Fujiya Lollipop Bag
      A big bag of basic lollipops. Flavors are grape, apple, strawberry, and orange. It's a large bag, but not particularly special or unique in any way.
    10. Cheese, Veggie, and Tonkatsu Umaibo
      Umaibo is a giant Cheeto tube that comes in various flavors. I always like the knock-off Doraemon art on the packaging, but their taste is inconsistent. These sticks cost 10-20 cents each, so they are filler by definition.
    11. Lifeguard
      Lifeguard is a Japanese energy drink with a cool refreshing taste. It's green, goopy, and tasty.
    12. Zelda Figure
      This is from a series of capsule toys based on "The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks." We got a moblin. It's well molded and painted. I claimed it for my desk.

    Box 2 - January 2016

    open crate of japanese candy

    Estimated Value: $14.07

    Weight: 1.71 lbs

    Sometimes the packaging can be just as exciting as the candy itself. And this month we got Hello Kitty, Waldo, and Pokemon on three of our candies. Seeing beloved characters should make the kids smile. There was supposed to be a Gudetama DIY kit in this box, but the shipment got destroyed on its way to the Japan Crate warehouse. Even though Japan Crate had no control over the situation, they still added consolation candy to this box and promised make-up items in the next one.

    12 japanese snacks

    "Nice texture, semi-sweet. Trusting that I got some GABA."

    Michael's thoughts on GABA Infused Chocolate

    1. Pokemon Pineapple Candy
      This candy chews like gum, but dissolves after a while. Also Squirtle is on the package, which enhances the flavor.
    2. Fit's Strawberry & Cream Gum feat. Waldo
      The Waldo on this package is really easy to find. Also, the gum is strawberry flavor.
    3. Sparkling Orange Gummy
      Orange gummies with a sugar coating. Generic, but tasty.
    4. Pizza Pretz
      Pretz are delicious, period. Light, crunchy, and salty. These are "pizza flavor," which tasted to me like a collection of herbs.
    5. JU-C Short Cake
      These are like Bottle Caps or Sweet Tarts. But instead of a flavor variety, you get one. This one tastes like cake. Aren't there cake pellets in Fallout? There oughta be.
    6. Ume Potato Chips
      Ume is a Japanese pickled plum, a perfect blend of sour and sweet. Adding it to potato chips is a great choice. You can definitely taste the sourness on these.
    7. Hello Kitty Strawberry Pretzel
      If you've had strawberry Pocky, you've had this. The only difference is the Hello Kitty on the package.
    8. GABA Infused Chocolate
      GABA is an amino acid that relieves stress. These chocolates are infused with GABA. It's not like anyone already eats chocolate to help with stress, right?
    9. Milk Chocolate Pocky
      Chocolate Pocky is common in most grocery stores. But this is milk chocolate, so it's richer than the regular waxy stuff.
    10. Asahi Calpis Gummy
      Calpis the drink is basically liquid candy. So turning it into a gummy is a natural move. If you like Calpis, you'll like these.
    11. Strawberry Hi-Chew
      There are a ton of Hi-Chew varieties available only in Japan. This is a special 苺のつぶつぶ variety. It has little granules of strawberry in it.
    12. Sukitto Lemon C Drink
      Carbonation. Lemon. Put them together and you get this drink. Sour, bubbly, and full of vitamin C. But I'm sure the sugar outweighs the health benefits.

    Yam White Chocolates

    japanese yam white chocolates

    This is the kind of thing everyone wants to try, but isn't brave enough to buy for themselves. Uniqueness and intrigue, all rolled into yammy chocolatey squares.

    The candies themselves are brownish and waxy. White chocolate is the prominent flavor. You don't taste the yam until the end. But the balance is just right.

    Box 3 - February 2016

    open japan crate displaying snacks

    Estimated Value: $13.35

    Weight: 2.07 lbs

    As promised, the make-up items are here. Two DIY kits (instead of the usual one), a toy keychain, two pens, and three matcha Kit Kats. Good on Japan Crate for going the extra mile to make things right, even though the lost item from last month's crate wasn't their fault.

    grid of japanese food

    "Oh God! So sour!"

    Michael's thoughts on Super Lemon

    1. Heart LTD Oekaki Choco DIY
      This kit requires you to make shapes with candied beads, crush chocolate pieces, melt chocolate pieces, pour melted chocolate on your bead design, place a stick in the melted chocolate, and cool it all in the fridge. Or you can eat the chocolate pieces and candy beads right out of the bag.
    2. Yaokin Budou Grape Gummy
      Gummy candy with grape flavor. The texture is a bit softer than other gummies. It's a bit better than the average gummy too.
    3. Coris Grape and Soda Kajirittyo
      This is a stick of ramune flavored taffy wrapped in a layer of grape flavored taffy. Interesting combination of flavors and texture.
    4. Nericcho Soft Cones DIY
      This kit is a powder mix you blend with water. Scoop the solidified result into the cone and eat.
    5. Yaokin Moguchuu Strawberry
      These looks similar to Hi-Chew, but they're not quite as good. The flavor was fine, but they were hard to chew.
    6. Super Lemon
      Lemon hard candy, but incredibly sour. It was like two Warheads in one.
    7. Nori Shio Chip Star
      Beside the novelty of being a different kind of Pringle, these Chip Star are norishio のり塩  しお. Nori Shio is by far the best Japanese chip flavor.
    8. Twinbo Drink Gummy
      These are sour gummy worms, but minus the worm element. There are four flavors total, and two flavors on each non-worm worm. Some of these tasted good, others tasted like chemicals.
    9. Toppo Trio Stick Gum
      Six sticks of gum in three flavors: cola, cider, and grape.
    10. Matcha Kit Kat
      Matcha Kit Kats have become common in the U.S. in recent years. But that doesn't mean they're not wanted. Matcha Kit Kats are amazing. We got three in this box.
    11. Mini Ramen Bowl
      You can't eat this, but you'll wish you could. If you're into Japanese sampuru (plastic display foods), then you'll want to keep this on your key ring.
    12. Deco Pen
      Two cute pens. Great if you like cute pens. One has a mustache.

    Petit Pastel Ice Cream Cookies and Chocolate

    box of japanese cookies

    These are a cool twist on the Koala's March cookie formula. Petit Pastel are chocolate molded around a wafer center. And it's shaped like ice cream.

    The smell and flavor remind me of Cadbury Creme Eggs. But it's closest comparison is a candy from Japan, Takenoko No Sato. The main difference here is Petit Pastel are much softer and creamier. The flavor and fun shape made these an office favorite, and they didn't last long.

    Watermelon Ramune

    watermelon flavored drink from japan

    Ramune is always welcome at the Tofugu office. We've had plenty of green melon ramune (and loved it!), but never watermelon.

    The flavor isn't overly sweet, like the watermelon Jolly Rancher soda. Instead, the taste was subtler and reminded Koichi of the transition between a watermelon's rind and fruit. Not a particularly bad taste, but if you're the type of person who doesn't eat down to the rind, you might not enjoy it.

    Box 4 - March 2016

    open monthly box of japanese candy on display

    Estimated Value: $10.85

    Weight: 1.51 lbs

    This box had a lot of favorites for the Tofugu office. The Yuki no Yado chips were one of the best snacks of all six boxes. Unfortunately this was the only senbei we got. Senbei are an important part of Japanese snack culture. Since the motto printed on the box is "Experience Japan through candy!" I had hoped to find more traditional Japanese snacks, versus "snacks with Japanese flavoring."

    display of japanese candy

    "Tastes like sweet and salty pop chips."

    Viet's thoughts on Yuki No Yado Chips

    1. Choco Kinako DIY
      Kinako is roasted soybean powder used in a lot of Japanese sweets. Add the chocolate and mochi and you can't go wrong.
    2. Kasugai Gummy
      Kasugai gummies are a mainstay of Asian grocery stores in the U.S. Of the four flavors sent out, we got lychee.
    3. Fue Ramune
      These are a traditional kind of Japanese sweet called Fue Ramune. You can put it to your lips and use it as a whistle. It makes a high pitched fweet fweet! It also comes with a toy.
    4. Pine-Ame Gummy
      A tray with six gummy rings. A big package for so little candy.
    5. Teriyaki Burger, Corn Potage, and Pizza Umaibo
      Umaibo again. The Corn Potage flavor was unique. Good thing the package art is always cool to look at, because these are hit or miss (mostly miss).
    6. Sakupan Land
      Round cookie balls! The perfect amount of cookie crunch and a generous amount of chocolate.
    7. Yaokin Strawberry & Green Apple Roll Candy
      This is basically Fruit by the Foot. Too generic for a Japanese subscription box.
    8. Furuta Dodeka Bar
      This is a reverse wafer cookie, chocolate on the outside and wafer on the inside. But the wafer is corn. It's like a 10 inch corn flake covered in chocolate.
    9. 7 Stick Choco Cream
      7 wafer sticks filled with chocolate. Fun package art too.
    10. Monster Stamp Candy
      This is a piece of candy shaped like a stamp. You lick the stamp side, and stamp it on paper. After you're done repeatedly licking your candy and pressing it on filthy paper, you eat it. Gross.
    11. Sangaria Ume Soda
      I'm glad Japan Crate takes some risks with the flavors they send out. Since ume is an acquired taste, sending out an ume soda might help people acquire it. This drink is from Sangaria, a Japanese drink exporter.
    12. Yuki no Yado Chips
      Senbei are a big (and delicious) part of Japanese food culture. These are coated with a dash of sugar on top. Sweet and salty, they're the perfect Japanese snack.

    Box 5 - April 2016

    red subscription box displaying japanese snacks

    Estimated Value: $12.28

    Weight: 1.39 lbs

    This is the most colorful and interesting collection of packages in our six month run. A lot of wacky characters, primary colors, and bold lines. Of course the candy was great. But the packaging primes those taste buds before you even start eating.

    grid of japanese snacks

    "Nice ancient banana flavor. Tastes like Mike & Ike and Twinkie had a baby."

    Koichi's thoughts on Wow!? Such Banana!

    1. Fruit Shop Gummy
      A package of fruit gummies shaped like fruit. In case you forget what fruit looks like because you've been eating only candy for five straight months.
    2. Chip Star Ebikoubashi
      This Chip Star is shrimp flavor. Normally Chip Star tastes generic. But the shrimpiness of this can makes it special.
    3. Sakupan Giant Wafer
      Light and flaky with bits of chocolate cream. Again, more packaging than is necessary, but that's a bit of Japanese culture in itself.
    4. Maken Gummy
      This is a gummy hand in either rock, paper, or scissors formation. Use it to play janken じゃんけん with yourself. Once.
    5. Waku Waku Zoo Animal DIY
      These are neat molds with sticks for making candy lollipops. Put the candy gunk in the molds, insert the stick, and clamp down. Just like that, you have cute animals to devour!
    6. Wow!? Such Banana!
      A banana flavored with marshmallow cream filling. Koichi described it as a mix between Mike & Ike and a Twinkie.
    7. Fue Ramune
      More whistle candy. But this time there's no toy included.
    8. Caplicocot
      Solid chocolate in heart shapes.
    9. 123 Green Apple Gum
      I like the packaging on this one. Plus it's "old timey," which is cool. Otherwise, it's just apple gum.
    10. Puru Mocchi Grape
      Grape flavored gummies. These have the advantage of being extra フワフワ. These were a Tofugu office favorite.
    11. Pineapple Soda
      Pineapple flavored soda. Sorry, there's no more to it than that.
    12. Kawauso No Kotsume
      A little plastic otter. He's quite cute. But know his purpose is to tempt you into ordering a Doki Doki Crate.

    Sherbert Pero Cola

    japanese candy with colorful label

    This is another shining star for the uniqueness category. It's a cola flavored lollipop with Pop Rocks style dipping powder. So you're getting cola flavor with an extra fizzy punch.

    It's super sweet, so keep it on hand when you're in the mood for a sugar rush.

    By the way, your Japanese onomatopoeia of the day is peropero ペロペロ because of this candy and this video.

    Calbee Shrimp Chips

    package of calbee shrimp chips

    The big bag for this box is Calbee Shrimp Chips. These are a staple of Japanese snackery. They've got a hard crunch and a strong shrimp flavor. It may throw you at first, because the texture isn't what your brain associates with shrimp flavor. But keep eating. They're worth it.

    I wonder if this and the Shrimp Chip Star are too much shrimpiness for one box though. I like shrimp a lot, but I imagine two shrimp flavored items in one box might be too much for some people.

    But seriously, if you hate shrimp chips you need to broaden your horizons.

    Box 6 - May 2016

    japan crate opened and showing candy

    Estimated Value: 9.82

    Weight: 1.64 lbs

    This is my favorite box, as far as items included is concerned. Almost every item was a favorite to someone in the office. A close second in most interesting packaging too. And though I lamented the lack of senbei and other traditional snacks across these six boxes, the inclusion of kinako mochi does a little to make up for it.

    12 japanese snack foods in a grid

    "Tasted good but lost flavor quick."

    Michael's thoughts on Sour Cider Gum

    1. Sour Cider Gum
      A ramune flavored gum with a sour kick. I like the ramune bottle man on the package too.
    2. Mochitto Kinako Mochi
      This is a great example of wagashi 和菓子わがし, and I hope to see more things like this in future boxes. Kinako is wonderful.
    3. Puku Puku Taichoco
      This is a flaky wafer cookie surrounding whipped chocolate. It's in the shape of taiyaki, which makes it better.
    4. Caramel Corn
      Not the same as American caramel corn. These are corn puffs covered in caramel. If you've ever had the snack カール, this is the same thing with caramel instead of flavored powder.
    5. Nomuccho Jelly DIY
      This DIY kit is another powder mixture. Dump the powder into water and stir. It gets thicker the longer you wait.
    6. Pandaro Cookies
      These are simple butter cookies in panda shapes. The selling point is the packaging. There are 5 different package designs.
    7. Naga-i Sour Gummy Rope
      The sour gummy rope returns. We saw this in January's box. It's a long gummy rope with sour sprinklin's.
    8. Hachimitsu 100%
      Honey candy made with 100% honey. These are not overly sweet and have a subtle flavor.
    9. Big Bar Z White Choco
      A gigantic cookie bar covered in white chocolate.
    10. King's Lost Crown
      The king lost his crown and it turned into a cookie. Or he wore a cookie on his head as a sign of authority. Either way, he lost it and you get to eat it.
    11. Pachipachi Panic Cola
      Awesome packaging and a unique idea. These are Pop Rocks style candy fragments flavored with cola and lemon.
    12. Big Mashuro
      This is just a big marshmallow. But who doesn't like marshmallows? Besides, the character on the package is neat.
    13. Kajirittyo Cola Candy
      A chewy cola flavored taffy wrapped in ramune flavored taffy. Two taffies in one!
    14. Hajikete Grape Cider
      Grape flavored soda. Sorry, Japan Crate. This isn't all that special.
    15. Kitty Cup
      This little toy is adorable. It's kitty in a teacup. What's not to love?

    Sakusaku Panda Cookie

    japanese cookies shaped like pandas

    Sakusaku Panda cookies are great in whatever form they take. These might be the best. They're semi-soft butter cookie topped with white and milk chocolate. The chocolate is formed into a panda face.

    Each cookies has a different facial expression, so the experience is one you'll want to savor rather than wolfing through. Like Koala's March, you'll spend a few seconds to a minute examining each unique character before you eat it. Or you might not be able to eat it at all.

    Nori Shio Potato Chips

    Calbee salt and seaweed chips

    Calbee Nori Shio potato chips are my favorite Japanese chip, hands down. Tangy seaweed mixed with salt. Such a beautiful combo. These are easily found at any Asian grocery store. But that doesn't mean they don't belong in this box. They do. Their availability doesn't decrease their value.

    Also, I should mention the potato character. At first glance, he seems like a mayor with his sash and William Jennings Bryan hat. But upon closer inspection, you'll notice his sash simply reads "potato." He's just an ordinary potato, but understands a little thing called showmanship.

    I love you, Calbee Potato.

    Japan Crate Judgment

    red box with artwork on table

    Finally, it's judgement time. We think subscribing for six months allowed us a more macro view. "See the distant mountains," as the proverb goes.

    "The Best lychee gummy ever"

    Viet's thoughts on Kasugai Lychee Gummy

    If we hadn't done this, we wouldn't have experienced the disappointment of missing the Gudetama DIY kit coupled with the joy of getting consolation items in the next box. We also wouldn't have seen the repeating patterns. Experiencing the subscription as a long term customer was important for the broad scope of this review.

    That said, we also zoomed in to the micro level. Each box was catalogued, item by item. We estimated the price of each snack, measured the weight of each box, and took a lot of photos.

    With all this data at our disposal, we chose six criteria to judge the Japan Crate service:

    1. Variety
    2. Uniqueness
    3. Presentation
    4. Quality
    5. Value
    6. Customer Service

    Let's start with Variety.

    Variety

    japanese honey flavored hard candy

    Though Japan Crate is like Japanese candy gambling (you never know what you're gonna get!), it never felt random. There was a preciseness to the selection in each box. Over the months we started noticing patterns.

    Besides the advertised drink and DIY kit in every box, all six crates had at least one savory snack, chocolate/cookie snack, and gummy. Four out of six boxes had gum and toys. And half of the boxes had hard candy, tablet candy, and taffy.

    This gave each box a sense of consistency and variety, two things that are tough to have together. The crates all felt curated with something for everyone. Each candy was as different from the others as it could be. Good variety and selection all around.

    The only qualm I have is with salty/sweet ratio. The selection leans heavily to sweet. There were always one or two salty options in each box we received, but that was it. If you're hoping Japan Crate will deliver the savory, look elsewhere. But the types of sweets covered a wide range. Some types we encountered often were:

    • Lollipops
    • Hard candies
    • Chocolate
    • Cookies
    • Gummies
    • Sours
    • Goo Tubes
    • Drink mixes
    • Taffies
    • Gum
    • Tablet Candies
    • Marshmallows
    • Mochi

    "Delicious!"

    Kristen's thoughts on Sangaria Ume Soda

    There were a lot of orange, grape, cola, ramune, and lemon flavored items spread across the six boxes. Personally, I always love cola or ramune anything, but I got sick of the grape and lemon candies by the end. Be aware certain flavors will show up repeatedly. You'll be happy to see some, others not so much.

    In contrast, rare flavors were standouts. Everyone enjoyed the honey candy. Not because honey is amazing, but because it was such a departure from the cycle of "normal" flavors. Other "rare" flavors were kinako, yam, ume, and banana.

    Uniqueness

    a can of ume flavored japanese soda

    In our internet age, "uniqueness" is tough to judge. Everything is available online. The question is, would you know to look for something if you didn't know it existed?

    Japan Crate isn't sending anything you can't find yourself. But they're taking away the search burden, and giving you surprise in exchange. If you buy these items for yourself, you don't get the joy of having Japanese candy Santa give you a gift box every month. Also you're free of the work, research, and effort to handpick Japanese candy for yourself.

    Each crate includes at least something we'd deem "unique," but not every item could be categorized as a holy grail. They're more like are hidden gems. Think of Japan Crate as a friend who's a Japanese candy hipster, introducing you to the underground candy only cool kids know about.

    Presentation

    japan crate pack-in zine

    Each box's presentation is good, perhaps unnecessarily so. There is tissue paper inside each crate. The candy and snacks are packed well, with no one box ever feeling over (or under) stuffed. In our six months subscribing to Japan Crate, nothing ever arrived damaged.

    The shining star in the Presentation category is the box itself. It's bright red with custom custom artwork printed in white on both the inside and out, giving it a special kouhaku 紅白こうはく feeling. You'll know your Japan Crate was delivered from a thousand feet away. It's not your standard brown cardboard package.

    Another component to the presentation is the inserts. The boxes have booklets that describe the items in the box, advertise the "Sugoi Crates" (one box every month containing large prizes subscribers can win), show off subscriber fan pictures, as well as a Japan Crate manga series.

    The zine never outshines the candy, but it makes you feel like they're trying.

    Quality

    art of two people opening a box

    The quality of Japan Crate's candy is generally high. For candy. There's no handcrafted artisanal sweets, of course. These are compressed and molded pieces of sugar, chocolate, and other relatively inexpensive ingredients. That said, they're mostly all products from well-known Japanese confectioners like Glico, Fujiya, Calbee, and Morinaga. You never feel like you're being ripped off with knock-off brand sweets.

    There is filler, of course. You'll run across a lot of Umaibo, for example. It helps to think of Umaibo as (barely) edible packing peanuts. But with the amount of decent-to-good candy included, this is forgivable.

    Value

    japan crate package up close

    In the end, it all comes down to money. How much are these boxes worth? You pay $30 a month. Are you getting what you pay for? Here's how we decided:

    First, we weighed the candy from each box to get their average weight. Then, we estimated the value of each individual item, added them together to get an approximate value for each box, and added those together to get an average dollar value estimate.

    Please note that estimating the value of these pieces isn't easy, and maybe not entirely accurate. A lot of the candy is part of a larger bulk package. We also don't know if Japan Crate is getting special deals from manufacturers, distributors, etc., and we're not including taxes or shipping. Still, our numbers should give you a general idea of the value you're receiving.

    First, the averages:

    • Average Candy Weight: 1.76 lbs (0.8 kg)
    • Average Dollar Value Estimate: $12.41 (USD)

    At first glance, this doesn't seem like a lot. The premium boxes are $30 each, for $12.41 worth of candy. But consider this: If you bought this candy outside Japan, it would cost more than our estimates.

    "Nice, resealable packaging."

    Kristen's thoughts on Caplicocot

    Also you have to consider shipping and taxes. When all is said and done, the price Japan Crate pays to send you this candy is probably somewhat higher than our average.

    But is the cost of Japan Crate worth it for you? That depends. If you don't have easy access to a large variety of Japanese snacks in your area, we think it is. Add the cost of your time, and this subscription box starts to make more sense. Plus, let's not forget the surprise element. Buying yourself a Japanese snack present at the store isn't the same as getting one sealed in a box of mystery.

    Customer Service

    Great candy at a great price is great. If it arrives. Or if it's intact. Or if it's not melted, crushed, punched, or stolen off your doorstep.

    Though we didn't experience any problems, I'm sure it happens. If it does, how will Japan Crate's customer service deal with it?

    To find out, I created new email, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Then I sent them poorly written and annoying questions.

    Here's my Facebook question:

    facebook message with japan crate

    My Twitter question:

    tweets to and from japan crate

    And my email:

    screenshot of email with japan crate

    Japan Crate responded to all three questions within 24 hours. Plus the responses were friendly and informative, despite my noob phrasing.

    I was also impressed with their missing or damaged items policy. Japan Crate could easily issue a credit and call it even. But if an item is missing or crushinated, they'll resend it or find a replacement. If neither of those avenues work, they'll issue a credit as a last resort.

    Within these limited interactions, Japan Crate customer service got an A+.

    Japan Crate Review Verdict

    corner of japan crate packaging

    When it comes down to it, subscription boxes are as much about the surprise as they are the contents. You could search online and find most of these items yourself. But that destroys the fun. Getting a mystery box full of goodies each month is a delight.

    The boxes we received always felt curated, with a good variety of flavors (especially if you prefer the sweets). Boxes looked good (if you care about that sort of thing). And, when you consider your time, shipping, and availability, the value comes down to being a reasonable deal. All in all, a lot of points in Japan Crate's favor.

    The bottom line? We give Japan Crate the ol' "recommend" stamp. Positives outshine whatever minor flaws you may encounter. Of all the Japanese candy subscription boxes (there are a lot out there), Japan Crate is one of the best. Even after finishing this review, we continued our subscription. I think that says more than anything we've written to this point. Give it a try, we think you'll like how it tastes.

    Japan Crate by Japan Crate

    Pros

    • Like gambling, but you always win
    • Three sizes and four payment options
    • Free shipping in the U.S.
    • You may win a Sugoi Crate full of big prizes
    • 18 page zine in every box
    • Good variety and unique items
    • Nice presentation and well packed
    • Candy comes from well-known brands
    • Fair value considering what you get
    • Excellent customer service

    Cons

    • They don't ship to 16 countries
    • Because it's candy gambling, you may get duds some months
    • You'll probably never win the Sugoi Crate
    • No refunds and auto-renew may stick you with unwanted candy (if there is such a thing)
    • Very few savory flavors
    • Recurring flavors can get tiring, especially for flavors you're not fond of
    • Umaibo

    Overall Rating

    8

    Additional Information