March Unboxed: Traditional Japan

by Danny Taing

Last month, we introduced our subscribers to some of the most delicious western-style snacks being produced in Japan today. This month, we wanted to impart a more traditional experience by including products such as Yokan from a snack maker dating back to the 16th century! Many subscribers reported back that their palates were very satisfied with this month's assortment of traditional Japanese snacks so you can be sure that some of these items will appear again in a future bokksu.

And now, we are happy to present March's Tasting Guide! Please note that due to logistical reasons, the listed Yukari from Bankaku was not available this month so it was replaced with Green Tea Mochi. For ease of reading, the image text is also written below.

March 2016 Bokksu Tasting GuideMarch 2016 Bokksu Tasting Guide


Founded in the early 16th century in Kyoto.

toraya yokan


Yokan is a thick, jellied dessert typically made with red bean paste, agar, and sugar. Though yokan was first introduced to Japan by China in the late 12th century, the modern form of yokan has its roots in the Edo period in the 19th century when agar and sugar became more available. Due to its rich taste and grainy texture, yokan is usually sliced into smaller servings and enjoyed with green tea.

Ogura Sansou

Founded in 1951 in Kyoto.

Ogura Sansou Ogura Yamashunju (arare)

Ogura Yamashunju (Arare)

Similar to senbei, arare is a rice cracker made from glutinous rice but is differentiated by its smaller size and distinctive shapes (hence the name “arare”, which also means “soft hail” in Japanese). Each of the eight arare in this pack was carefully crafted to represent an aspect of the four seasons. For example, the pink star-shaped arare (pictured above in lower right) represents freshly fallen cherry blossom petals.

Minamoto Kitchoan

Founded in 1947 by Okada Toratarou in Okayama prefecture.

Minamoto Kitchoan White Peach Mochi

White Peach Mochi

Mochi is a rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain glutinous rice. The mochi itself has a wonderfully soft and chewy texture while the white peach filling adds a sweet tinge to every bite.


Founded in 1889 by Kakujirou Ban in Aichi prefecture.

Bankaku Yukari Shrimp senbei

Yukari (Shrimp Senbei)

Each senbei (rice cracker) is created with seven shrimp pieces using Bankaku’s original double-baking method developed during the Edo period. Every crisp bite of this delicate cracker infuses the mouth with bursts of shrimp flavor and a pleasant grainy aftertaste.

Tea Pairing

Sencha is the traditional steamed green tea of Japan. Steaming (instead of pan-firing like in Chinese teas) prevents oxidization of the leaves and preserves the tea’s fresh taste and vivid green color. Sencha tea has a grassy or pine-like flavor that is refreshing and invigorating.

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