This list is of 17 people who seemed to have started a business because they all had a friend who liked Japanese candy, so they had to send them some candy to maintain their friendship.
The “About Us” of a lot of these businesses seem to have a similar story as to why they started their business, but I also have a feeling they started it to cash in on the approximately $120 million annual U.S. snack market, or maybe they did it all for friendship.
If you’re looking for the top candy and subscription boxes, please check out my “Top 5 Japanese Snack and Candy Subscription Boxes” list.
- What: primarily Japanese candy, drinks, DIY candies, and snacks, but some companies offer more like gachapon (capsule toys), teas, to beauty products.
- Where: the majority of these companies deliver throughout the world although the U.S. is one of the biggest markets.
- Who: the companies themselves are not all based in Japan, and some are out of the U.S. and a few in Europe.
- When: limited time only for you to sign-up because the boxes are bi-monthly to monthly so there will be a countdown timer on most websites. Also there are seasonal or holiday themed boxes, so if you have a favorite holiday you’ll want to get in on the subscription early before they are sold out.
- How much: approximately betweeen $10-40 a month, but it depends on the size of the box you want (some offer up to 3 sizes). In regards to payment, they all take different forms of payment from credit card, PayPal, to even one site that accepts Bitcoin.
- How long: not all companies offer the same subscription frequencies, but most will offer a one time purchase, a 3-month, a 6-month to a 1-year subscription (for anybody not afraid of commitment, like me) that you can typically cancel at any time although you’ll have to check with each companies policy.
The Subscription Services:
Everything is listed in alphabetical order
Snack and tea pairing subscription service with a very a very cool social media feed.
Classic Bokksu (18-20+)
|Per month |
|6 months |
|12 months |
Tasting Bokksu (8-10)
|3 months |
|6 months |
|12 months |
Shipping: free shipping worldwide.
Site Traffic: 50 to 25k per month.
About: Founder Danny Taing and his team are the only box that includes a tea pairing specifically selected to complement that month’s delicacies.
My take: looks like a bunch of young Asian Americans who look like they have their ideal job because it reflects on the business. One such place is their Facebook page where they have some cool content like the announcement that J.J. Abrams is doing a “Your name” live action or the music video of the Tomioka High School dance club doing their 80’s dance performance.
2. CANDY JAPAN
No frills and family owned
Website: www.candyjapan.com (damn, how much is this domain name worth)
2-4 Items per month, two times a month
|$29 month ||(2 shipments per month) Each shipment containing 2-4 items, depending upon the size of the items. To subscribe, there’s an authentication process in which you need a validate your email address (only 2-steps).|
Shipping: “with free shipping even to the United States.”
Site Traffic: 90 to 35k per month.
About: The service was started by a Japanese-Finnish family living in Tokushima, Japan (how we met). It has been running for over 5 years already. We are transparent about figures such as revenue, expenses, member count etc. and publish these in our business blog.
My take: simple, no-frills website (the dude is more of coder, so he could careless?) and packaging by a husband and wife operation, but don’t count them out as a strong contender. I say that because of their approach, and I’m surprised at how transparent they are because they seem to disclose everything from financials, marketing approach, to issues they’ve had with fraud. I mean, if you wanted to start a competing candy box or want to learn ecommerce, the behind the scenes blog is an incredibly interesting read.
3. CANDY SAN
A Tokyo based company with a French speaking staff that does more than just snacks and candy such as honey.
One monthly plan
|€ 23.48 ($27.74 as of the existing exchange rate).||Per month|
Shipping: shipping included
Site Traffic: 750k to 690k per month (candysan.com) and candysanbox.com with 15k to 110k.
About: CandysanBox and Candysan are websites by Ici Japon. Ici Japon is a Japanese company based in Tokyo since August 9, 2010, and has been registered as a kabushiki gaisha (株式会社) since February 23, 2015, with a capital of 1 million yen.
My take: ICI Japon is the parent company behind Candy San which is a French language based company out of Tokyo, Japan. Aside from candies and snacks they go well beyond that with offerings that go from flavored honey to a number of food items.
4. FREEDOM JAPANESE MARKET
Upwards of one pound of handpicked candies and snacks topped off with origami.
|Puchi Pack||Original Pack||Family Pack|
|5-8 full size and sample snacks||12-16 full size and sample snacks||24-32 full size and sample snacks|
|$12.99 a month||$24.99 a month||$45.99 a month|
Shipping: shipping is free worldwide
Site Traffic: 180k to 35k
About: it seems like all these companies have a friend or friends who have moved away from Japan, and they all couldn’t get the right candy which is a tragedy, haha. It’s this series of tragic events which led most of these people to want to start a company because too many people go hungry without candy from Japan, so FJM was born – seriously, I just want somebody to say, “hey it appeared to be a lucrative business, so we started a company to sell Japanese candy. Unfortunately, now our friends are constantly asking for discounts (“so we gave them 10% off” or not, just a guess).
My take: they tout their hefty weight, and you’ll get upwards of one pound of handpicked candies and snacks. To top it all off, they throw in a handmade origami with a new seasonal design every month (don’t you wonder who’s making it? “Mom, keep folding, we need 2k of these!!”).
5. JAPAN CANDY BOX
A very engaged candy box company that wants to provide a huge boost of joy and happiness.
| $19.90 |
| $19.90 |
| $18.90 |
| $18.20 |
Shipping: free shipping worldwide
Site Traffic: 240k to 65k per month.
About: Established in 2002, the Kawaii Group out of Hong Kong has been doing this for quite some time, so they’re not noobs to the game. Their motto is “even the smallest amount of cuteness can provide a huge boost of joy and happiness to your everyday life. Just remember to stay kawaii!”
My take: The site may look straightforward, but they do have a ton of ways to engage their brand with an expansive social media network: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram. If that doesn’t exemplify how how actively engaged they are, they also have an Affiliate Program that provides banners and logos to make things easy on anybody wanting promote them. This goes for bloggers and YouTubers with a Reviewer of the Month program to incentivize you.
6. JAPAN CRATE
They try to do it all
|5-items||10-items||15 items and they claim this is the “best value!”|
|$12 a month||$25 a month||$30 a month|
Shipping: yup, once again free shipping worldwide.
Site Traffic: 770k to 710k
About: Established in 2014, Hank Rao is the founder, and they are based out of the SF Bay Area. He and his team not only run Japan Crate, but several sub-brands which include Doki Doki (kawaii care package), Umai Crate (udon, yakisoba, spaghetti, soba, ramen, and more), and Sugoi Crate (cool stuff like Gundam figures to a Link hoodie).
My take: Yo dawg, you like crates, Japan crate doesn’t just offer candies and snack crates, but they also do cute collectibles and toys, instant noodles, to beauty product crates. Probably one of my favorite sites out of the bunch because it’s one of the easiest to use and to get to know the product. Beyond their website, their digital footprint seems to be everywhere on YouTube with their use of brand influencers which isn’t a bad thing.
7. JAPAN FUN BOX
A basic brand on the creative end, so this company is all about the subscription service.
|5-7 items||12-20 items||25-30 items|
Shipping: free shipping worldwide
Site Traffic: 90k to 13k per month
About: They have that same backstory here (like everybody else) which is about one of their Chinese co-workers who they had worked with in Osaka, Japan. When he had went back to China, he missed all the special edition Kit-Kat flavors, so since they’re homies, they’d send him care packages which inspired them to start Japan Fun Box.
My take: select a “funbox”, haha. Now that I’m done amusing myself, this company operates and is out of Japan, but their creative side is on the lame-o side. I say that because they also do the typical anime illustrations to illustrate how to subscribe to their service, but that is probably the most distinctively creative thing on all of their website. Well maybe what they lack in creative, they might make up for it with their ability to tell you the operational efficiency of their packaging capabilities or more importantly how to get you “the most exclusive candy.”
8. KYANDI BOX (French)
A French only language speaking site.
|Box Decouverte||Box Gourmande|
|19.9 euro||29.9 euro|
Shipping: I’ll leave this up to you to figure out unless you’re French, then you got this.
Site Traffic: less than 12k a month.
About: they’re French, and they speak and write in French although you can use “the Google” to translate the page which is what I did.
My take: This site is completely in French, but I added it for any French speaking visitors looking for a “service d’abonnement aux bonbons japonais.”
9. MARIMO CANDY CLUB
One of the only companies to allow you to purchase single item purchases.
Subscription or buy individually:
One monthly plan
|Marimo Candy Club||8-10, 2+ DIY kits||$29.99 a month|
Shipping: free shipping for orders over $43 USD (under $43 is $9)
Site Traffic: 130k to 60k a month.
About: They’re straight out of Japan, and they are a husband (Hiroki Matsuuchi) and wife (Marimo Marshmallow) couple out of Tokushima, Japan.
My take: “Marimo Marshmallow” isn’t the easiest domain name to pronounce or remember, so I can’t imagine others even being able to remember the name which is why you’ll want to bookmark the page. Aside from that, it looks like they use a common e-commerce solution (Shopify), but that doesn’t matter because this is one of the few companies that allow you to buy individual products. Not only that, but they don’t use generically bland and lame product descriptions. So, if you’re wondering about “suppai mucho potato chips,” they’ll let you know that they aren’t huge fans of umeboshi, but they did love these chips, so buy as many as you want for $3.49 each.
10. MY JAPAN BOX
They offer up a lot of different boxes with all sorts of things from candy, snacks, stationary, ramen, to a mystery box.
One monthly plan
|The boxes range from as little as $25 a month to $59|
Shipping: the candy box, every plan has free delivery.
Site Traffic: 8k to 60k per month
About: who is behind Japan Box, BMedia, “a worldwide multi-talented agency.” Also in their words “happy combination of multiple skills, BMedia was born from the desire to efficiently mix them all. To us, branding, marketing, trading, advertising, networking or management are obviously connected, and so are our many services. Whether you pick one up or ask for global support, our long-experienced international team will harmoniously work in synergy.”
My take: yo dawg, I hear you like boxes, so Japan Box has upwards of 16 different types of boxes. Candy and snacks are just the start because they offer up a multitude boxes and anything that you can think of, they have it stuffed in a box (except what you’ve seen in the movie 7even). What they do have are boxes that range from ramen, One Piece, candy, stationery, tea, to even a mysterious “secret” box. A secret box that you can pay for with Bitcoin.
11. OKASHI CONNECTION
Americans living in Japan, so if you’re in the United States, they know what you want and how to get it to you.
|OC Premium||OC Original||OC Mini|
|$30 a month|
| $22 a month|
| $14 a month|
Shipping: shipping charges are based on economy air SAL shipping to N. America, Europe, and the Middle East.
Site Traffic: under 12k per month.
About: This is “sort of” a small family style (their words) business based out of Chiba, Japan. “We pride ourselves on being very close and friendly with our customers. You are not a faceless order number with us! We are eager to give everyone a good experience, so they can feel a connection to Japan like we do!”
My take: Jennifer and Adam are both originally from the good ole U.S. of A, so they both know what you’ll like if you’re one of us, an ‘Muuurican. The only thing is that they come off as another “me too” website because there’s nothing that sets them apart from the others. Also that weaksauce looking logo isn’t helping either.
12. OYATSU BOX
Satoshi and his small staff will give you a very personalized feel since he operates everything out of his home in Chiba, Japan.
Individually to monthly
|You can purchase items individually through their “cafe”||Monthly through their subscription service “oyatsubox” which includes 11-14 items||$25.00 |
Shipping: Free shipping worldwide from just $14.
Site Traffic: under 12k per month
About: Candies, snacks, drinks, and capsule toys is what Satsohi and all his staff will deliver up. Started in 2012, Satoshi ran and operated everything out of his home in Chiba, Japan.
My take: this is a small business, but it really doesn’t take away from the business because they have a really good facebook page with some content that reflects well on the people possibly running the show. No gimmicky marketing like content here, but just random posts from around town that is quite amusing like one of an umberella holder out front of a 7-ll with a pic of several umbrellas placed in the holder. Amongst those umbrellas is a midevil looking gold sword with the caption “someone important must be inside,” (hahahah).
Supposedly one of the first, if not the first snack box company who merged with the very large Tokyo Otaku Mode.
3-plans and first timer incentives
|$10||$20||$32||earn 50% cash back ($35.00) in TOM Points. Along with $5 off for confirming email addresses (I’m sure this is to minimize credit card fraud).|
Shipping: all plans include FREE Worldwide Shipping
Site Traffic: 80 to 75k per month
About: Not a whole lot on the group, the team, or the person behind this business other than that they were initially owned and operated by a Japanese team running out of Tokyo and LA. TOM operates out of Portland, OR.
My take: I feel this companies biggest claim to fame was that it was possibly the first snack box, but I think several other businesses over took it in sales which looks that way because they just look lackluster compared to the rest, or like they didn’t know what to do or who their customers are. So the acquisition by Tokyo Otaku Mode is a going to be a marriage made in heaven (TOM is a beast with a huge presence on Facebook with 20 million likes), so this is going to be a company to watch.
A snack box with traditional Japanese snacks (wagashi), but I saw a post of the owner crapping on his competition
3-plans and a tasting box
|1-month||3-month subscription||6-month subscription||Tasting Box (U.S. Customers only)|
|free shipping in the U.S.||free shipping in the U.S.||free shipping in the U.S.||free shipping in the U.S.|
Shipping: FREE shipping in the U.S.
Site Traffic: 60k to 15k per month.
About: Shigeki is the founder of Snakku, and he was born in Tokyo, Japan although he grew up in NYC, so if you see him throwing shade on his blog about competitors, forgettaboutit.
My take: This site looks more sophisticated compared with all the others, so it definitely seems like it’s geared towards a more discerning or higher-end crowd. The type of customer not seeking Pocky and Shrimp Flavored Chips because their focus is looking to be more like traditional (wagashi) confectionaries from senbei, real gold covered hand-made ginger crackers from Kanazawa and regional snacks from Hokkaido. They seem to be one of the few that are offering up this level of product, and the only downside is that they only offer free shipping to subscriptions within the USA.
15. TOKYO TREAT
Based in Tokyo, Japan, I think this is the dominant leader of snack and candy boxes
Shipping: Free shipping worldwide
Site Traffic: 930k to 780k per month.
About: Ayumi is the founder of the website/business, and she is operating out of Tokyo with her crew in Japan.
My take: This seems like one of the top box companies because of their expansive shipping capabilities (“free shipping globally,” wuuhh?!) and distribution channel management. This company doesn’t appear to be slacking when it comes to community involvement either, and any company that is that actively communicating all these facets is probably making a concerted effort on all fronts. Such as from customer service to staying connected to their markets globally even if they are located in Japan (plus, how cool is that their office is next to Tokyo Tower, ’nuff said).
16. UMAI BOX (NihonBox)
Another French speaking company, but their site is also in German and English.
|$21.49 a month||$20.69 a month||$19.99 a month|
Shipping: shipping costs are not included.
Site Traffic: 85k to 300k per month.
About: I’ll let you know when I learn a little more French.
My take: A French company (based in Europe), NihonBox and UmaiBox specialize in candy and snacks. The subscription service is available in English (German and French), but the blog is only in French. Beyond that, you’ll have to dig to find out anything else about the people or where they’re based out of.
No information on who they are, but they probably have one of the coolest looking sites with their “pac man” inspired ghosts.
A trial to 2-monthly plans
|“try it”||7-9 items||9-11 items|
|$19.99 trial||$24.99 a month||$34.99 a month|
Shipping: free shipping to over 70 countries.
Site Traffic: 190k to 150k per month.
About: Nothing about who they are other than them being Wow/Now, Inc.
My take: Wow, they don’t just do candy and snacks either, and they also offer up “Fun and Tasty” (good balance of items except DIY snacks), “Kawaii and Beauty” (low calorie snacks to keep your speedo and bikini body and to blow your mind with cuteness), “New and Limited” (I will let you figure this one out), to “Dagashi” (old school snacks like hard candies, gummies, chocolates, and savory snacks). All of this comes directly from Japan, and they’re out to “wow” you. For that, this box appears to have the most range of candies and snacks.
Know of a subscription service that I may have missed, please let me know.