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Photo: Yulia Mladich/Dreamstime

7 Japanese subscription boxes that deliver overseas: snacks, makeup and stationery

These monthly boxes are delivered direct from Japan, filled with popular Japanese snacks, stationery, makeup and more

Tabea Greuner
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Tabea Greuner
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Travelling to Japan as a tourist is almost impossible right now, but you can still bring a little bit of Japan to your home. There’s a range of subscription services offering regular deliveries of boxes filled with exclusive Japanese goods, including food, tea, stationery, kawaii character merchandise, makeup, skincare, beauty products and more. So you can easily keep up with the latest trends in Japan or discover something entirely new.

Here are our picks of the best and most unusual subscription boxes to sign up for.

RECOMMENDED: These traditional Japanese crafts are perfect practical souvenirs

Outside the box

Confectionery: Sakuraco

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Sakuraco (@wearesakuraco)

What is it: The Sakuraco subscription box lets you enjoy traditional Japanese snacks sourced from long-established local manufacturers. The items are curated to re-create a traditional Japanese tea setting and each month there’s a different theme based on a particular flavour or region.

What you'll get: A Sakuraco box contains 20 traditional Japanese snacks and tea. You can look forward to treats such as castella cake and taiyaki (sweet fish-shaped pancake), and traditional Japanese sweets, including mochi rice cakes, manju (steamed sweet buns), or yokan red bean jelly. You’ll also find little snacks like senbei rice crackers or konpeito sugar candy.

On top of that, each box comes with a piece of kitchenware – think plates, bowls, or trays – featuring beautiful Japanese motifs. The brochure in the box provides information on Japanese culture as well as the manufacturers, and the food, including details on allergens and whether items are vegetarian friendly.

How much: You can pick from four different plans (not including shipping fees): 

- Month-to-month subscription: USD$37.50 per month
- Three-month subscription: USD$106.50
- Six-month subscription: USD$201
- 12-month subscription: USD$390

Your subscription will automatically renew, so make sure to cancel promptly if you want to stop receiving boxes.

Frequency: monthly

Shipping: Tracked shipping is between USD$10.50 and USD$12.50 per box, depending on your location.

Sakuraco is not available for purchase within Japan.

Tea: Tomotcha

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tomotcha (@tomotcha)

What is it: Osaka-based Tomotcha delivers one distinctive kind of Japanese tea a month to help you explore the full range of Japanese tea, one cup at a time.

What you'll get: Each delivery contains 40g to 60g of one type of Japanese tea, such as loose leaf green tea, buckwheat tea, or seasonal varieties. The pack should have enough tea to make about 35 cups at 60ml per cup. The package comes with instructions on how to steep the tea, as well as information on where it’s produced. Make sure to check Tomotcha’s blog, where you can learn more about each month’s tea.

How much: Tomotcha offers a month-to-month subscription plan for USD$15, which you can cancel at any time. You can also pre-pay for three (USD$45), six (USD$90), or 12 months (USD$180) worth of boxes via a ‘gift’ plan, which doesn’t automatically renew after your last package has arrived.

You can also contact Tomotcha to ask for extra tea in your box for an additional fee.

Frequency: monthly

Shipping: from USD$5

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Makeup: No Make No Life

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von nomakenolife (@nomakenolife)

What is it: No Make No Life sends you a selection of Japanese and Korean cosmetic and skincare products every month. Each box has a different theme, so there’s no need to worry about doubling up.

What you'll get: Each box contains eight or nine full-size beauty products by popular Japanese and Korean makeup brands, such as DHC, Canmake, Dolly Wink, Etude House and more. You’ll also receive one brush, mirror or other beauty accessory. Each box comes with a little pamphlet that not only introduces the items, but also gives tips on how to use them.

How much: You can pick from four different plans (not including shipping fees):

- Month-to-month subscription: USD$35 per month
- Three-month subscription: USD$100.50
- Six-month subscription: USD$192
- 12-month subscription: USD$378

Your subscription will automatically renew, so make sure to cancel promptly if you want to stop receiving boxes.

Frequency: monthly

Shipping: Tracked shipping is between USD$10.50 and USD$12.50 per box, depending on your location.

No Make No Life is not available for purchase within Japan.

ZenPop Stationery Pack

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von ZenPop Japan (@zenpopjapan)

What is it: The ZenPop Stationery Pack is a box full of high-quality Japanese stationery  shipped directly from Osaka.

What you'll get: Each month you can look forward to a new themed box with cute yet practical items ranging from pens, pencils and highlighters to stickers, masking tape, letter sets and more. The box contains a card with a QR code that leads to ZenPop’s website, where you’ll find information about each item.

How much: You can pick from four different plans (not including shipping fees):

- Month-to-month subscription: USD$33 per month
- Three-month subscription: USD$96
- Six-month subscription: USD$186
- 12-month subscription: USD$360

Your subscription will automatically renew, so make sure to cancel promptly if you want to stop receiving boxes.

Frequency: monthly

Shipping: FREE for some countries, or between USD$4 and USD$7. Due to coronavirus, shipping to some locations is suspended. You’ll find more information here.

ZenPop Stationery Pack is not available for purchase within Japan.

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Noodles: Umai Crate

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Umai Crate (@umaicrate)

What is it: Umai Crate is a monthly subscription service that brings Japan’s latest and weirdest instant noodle trends to your door. 

What you'll get: Each box includes eight to ten Japan-exclusive instant noodles plus one bonus item to compliment the noodles, such as spices or toppings. You’ll also find a recipe card in each box to help you level up your instant ramen game or even create new dishes using the noodles. There’s also a booklet explaining each pack of noodles, complete with instructions on how to prepare them.

How much: You can pick from four different plans: 

- Month-to-month subscription: USD$49.95 per month
- Three-month subscription: USD$143.85
- Six-month subscription: USD$281.70
- 12-month subscription: USD$549.45 

Your subscription will automatically renew, so make sure to cancel promptly if you want to stop receiving boxes.

Frequency: monthly

Shipping: FREE shipping worldwide from Japan. However, a shipping fee of USD$9.95 per box may apply to some countries. Click here to check if your country is eligible for free shipping.

Souvenirs: Peko Peko Box

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Peko Peko Box (@pekopeko.box)

What is it: The Peko Peko Box takes you on a journey across Japan. Every two months, you’ll get specially selected omiyage (souvenirs) from a different region, ranging from remote areas to the country’s bustling cities.

What you'll get: Each box contains up to six crafts and collectibles from a particular area, as well as between two and four local snacks or drinks. A small magazine explains each item and gives information on manufacturers and their region in English and French. The box curators actually travel to each area and conduct interviews with local producers, artists and even monks. You can watch the videos of each interview on the official YouTube channel, with English and French subtitles.

Peko Peko Box keeps its packaging eco-friendly, using biodegradable or reusable materials.

How much: You can pick from three different plans (not including shipping fees):

- Two-month subscription: USD$45
- Three box subscription over six months: USD$123
- Six box subscription over 12 months: USD$234

Your subscription will automatically renew, so make sure to cancel promptly if you want to stop receiving boxes.

Frequency: every two months

Shipping: Worldwide shipping is between USD$6 and USD$39, depending on your location.

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Merch: Kawaii Box

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Kawaii Box (@kawaiibox)

What is it: Kawaii Box is perfect for fans of all things cute, especially if you love Japan’s most famous characters, such as Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma, Gudetama, and more.

What you’ll get: Each box includes eight to ten pieces of kawaii merch, ranging from stationery, plushies and pouches to kitchenware, candy, accessories and more. The items usually feature popular characters from brands such as Sanrio, Studio Ghibli, Disney, Moomins, Nintendo and more. There is a new theme each month and the box includes a small leaflet explaining each item.

How much: You can pick from three different plans: 

- Month-to-month subscription: USD$29.90 per month
- Three-month subscription: USD$167.40
- 12-month subscription: USD$298.80

The month-to-month subscription will automatically renew, so make sure to cancel promptly if you want to stop receiving boxes. The six- and 12-month subscriptions, on the other hand, won’t automatically renew after you’ve received your last box.

Frequency: monthly

Shipping: FREE shipping worldwide from Japan. However, delivery to some locations has been suspended due to coronavirus. For more information, see here.

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