When a person becomes a tourist, they take on several unspoken duties: hit their destination’s major landmarks. Shop for, eat, or do something famously local. Take some photographs and find souvenirs to remember the trip by. But what does a would-be tourist do when they can’t travel due to, say, a global pandemic or staggering student debt? For those gazing longingly at Japan, we propose The Impossible Tour. On The Impossible Tour, you can experience a year in Japan through the many flavors that mark the transit of the seasons.
The ancient Japanese calendar, modelled after China’s Twenty-four Solar Terms, celebrates seventy-two microseasons. To this day, beauty and joy of the ephemeral is a central part of Japanese culture, one often lost to short-term visitors. Time, money, and language barriers be damned! This itinerary has been designed to help you imagine your own Japan trip. Before we begin: Bokksu sends a “Seasons of Japan” box to welcome each newcomer to our monthly subscription boxes. You can shop a la carte at the Bokksu Market, buy a one-time “Seasons of Japan,” or even sign up for the best subscription box out there: Bokksu!
Drinking with the Flowers
We begin in late March, a time for new beginnings. Loved ones gather beneath sakura to enjoy short-lived cherry blossom blooms. Enter the Handmade Sakura Candy, a hard candy custom-made by maker-partner Daimonji Ame Honpo, a one hundred year-old family business in Kyoto. Look for flecks of flower petals, carefully harvested and preserved through traditional techniques to retain color and draw out flavor. Each bag contains plenty to share at your version of potluck-style hanami. Because April marks the new school year in Japan, we recommend the steam engine-shaped Totteppo Sable Cookie: Chocolate & Berry! Please note: while these cookies honor children’s love for trains, they also contain some berry liqueur. Perhaps they are best served to hard-working parents.
Though it was introduced to Japan in the 1950s, the blueberry has become popular only in recent years. Thanks to horticulturalists’ efforts, the berries that go into this jelly center of the Blueberry Tart are so fresh you’ll wonder if you didn’t pick them yourself. A Japanese summer wouldn’t sound right without its cicada soundwall, and it wouldn’t taste right without Ramune, the iconic soda represented here by Daimonji Ame Honpo’s Handmade Ramune Candy. These hard candies are shaped to resemble the glass marble inside the Ramune bottle. You can even drop one into a cold glass of a local citrusy soda to hear its rattle as you drink.
To riff on the jazz standard by Vernon Duke, “Dreamers with empty hands, who sigh for foreign lands: try Autumn in Japan!” Beginning in late September city dwellers across the country ride trains to theme park-level crowds out to see kouyou, or changing leaves. At the same time, shiitake are ready for picking. Our Shiitake Mushroom Black Pepper Arare is an umami heaven packed into a rice cracker with a black pepper bite. We like to imagine these shiitake growing on logs near the apples of the “madeleine of the forest.” Mori no Madeleine: Apple is juicy, light, and not too sweet. What makes this little cake special is how thoroughly apple it tastes. If you love pastries in the fall, you may have just met your new favorite.
Vitamin C for the Cold
Some may recall B-roll snow monkeys from the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, their peaceful pink faces coming in and out of view from behind the steam coming off natural hot springs. Onsen are a popular tourist destination year-round for their mineral healing properties. Whatever your comfort level around semi-public nudity, this year you can enjoy winter baths from your home with the Yasashii Yuzu Gummy. A fragrant citrus harvested at the end of the year, yuzu makes for excellent color- and aromatherapy when added to Japanese baths on the Winter Solstice. Generally used sparingly due to its tart and often bitter flavor profile, yuzu makes this a delightfully chewy, gently sweetened treat. For the full Impossible Tour experience, toss some local citrus into the water before entering.
Thus we conclude our tour of Japan through the seasons. We encourage you to take a look at our reviews, If you’re still not convinced that Bokksu is the Best subscription box for the palate AND the imagination, try a one-time box. If you like it, we have plenty of commitment levels to choose from among our monthly subscription boxes.