Whether you are missing Japan, excited to visit Japan or just love trying food from all over the world but can’t quite budget for the flight, Kokoro Care packages offer you a chance to experience the taste of Japan, from anywhere!
Kokoro translates to ‘heart’ in Japanese and after further research into the available packages, it is easy to see why. Every item in every box has been chosen with love, intention and care.
One of the best parts of travelling through Japan is noticing how excited one city can suddenly be about something as mundane as an apple. There will be posters, mascots, clothes and entire stores dedicated to this food. It’s an enjoyable whimsy but seems a bit unnecessarily extra until you experience the taste and realise it’s the best apple you have ever had. (Aomori for apples in case you are wondering).
The attention to detail and dedication that goes into each ingredient is what makes these packages so special. All the items are from different prefectures in Japan. This means you won’t only be getting to experience the taste of Japan but you will also be getting the highest quality. Along with that, each care package comes with a beautiful English brochure explaining what each item is, where it came from and recommendations for use.
The website offers individual collections as a one time order option and/or a monthly subscription option which is updated seasonally each month giving you a new flavour of Japan all year round.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to sample a monthly box, the Nourishing Essentials package. Each monthly package comes with over 5 artisanal, natural Japanese foods, usually including noodles/rice, snacks, seasonings, sauces, soups or teas. There is a new theme every month and the brochure not only provides descriptions and instructions but also stories about local farmers connecting you even closer to the country, the food and the culture.
More details on their packages on their website: kokorocares.com
So here’s what I got
Kirazu (soybean pulp) cracker
They are made with ingredients from local, non-GMO soybean farmers and I can’t decide if opening these to share with friends was one of the best or worst decisions I made that day. I’m glad sharing stopped me from eating them all but I also wanted to eat them all. They were extra crispy so each crunch was almost therapeutic. They weren’t too strong or too weak in flavour and seemed to please all of my friends too.
Gyoza Rice Crackers
These were not my favourite item but considering the strong competition, something had to come last. They aren’t something I’d usually opt for but gyoza is a popular and common tasty snack in Japan and these hand-grilled rice crackers were successfully able to mimic the flavour, leaving them the perfect accompaniment to a cold Beer in the evening.
Wasabi and nozawana (Mustard leaf) Tartar sauce
Whenever people from home visit me in Japan, I know even the pickiest of eaters will instantly fall in love with Chicken Nanban. Firstly, who doesn’t like fried chicken? Then secondly, the SAUCE. This sauce. That you can have sent directly to you? Every single person I have ever seen try it, me included, always freezes upon first taste before uttering a ‘wow’.
I was ecstatic to find this jar in my package and it lasted less time than I’m proud to admit. It is the perfect combination of spicy and crunchy and is made from all organic ingredients. It also seemed to go great with everything, my usually mundane tuna sandwiches were truly upgraded!
Gohei mochi (skewered rice stick)
If you’ve ever had mochi aka Japanese rice cake then you know the comfort a snack like this can provide. This could be either baked or grilled, luckily I got two in this box and can confirm grilled was slightly more enjoyable. The sweet and spicy sauce made from walnuts, sesame and peanuts added deliciously to the firm and chewy texture. This snack has been historically enjoyed by Japanese workers with sake after a hard day and this particular dough was made from 100% Gifu uruchi rice!
Kyushu Dashi hot pot soup
In Japan, ‘Nabe’ is a very popular dish to enjoy as temperatures outside begin to drop so I was delighted to see this delivered mid Autumn. Basically it’s simple, put together veg and meats and boil in a tasty broth. This dashi is made using four special ingredients from the Kyushu prefecture: grilled flying fish, shiitake mushrooms, dried bonito flakes and dried shrimp. A flavourful broth like this one can easily turn a cold miserable day into a cosy and snug evening.
Yakisoba is my favourite thing to devour at Japanese festivals. It’s a fried noodle dish with vegetables, meat/fish and often, egg. I was actually surprised to see this vegan option in the package. Especially since only in the last few years has Japan made any real effort to facilitate veganism in the country.
I was also surprised with how much I enjoyed these vegan noodles. Made with only natural ingredients sourced from the Kanagawa prefecture, this meal was both delicious and wholesome.
I think I’ve made my stance pretty clear throughout but 100% would recommend it. It brings me joy knowing these packages are supporting local farming in Japan as well as valuing eco friendly sourcing and If I was to ever leave Japan, I know that these are among some of the tastes and flavours I would miss the most and the most difficult to try and recreate at home. These carefully selected packages truly provide an authentic and delicious taste of Japan! You can visit Kokoro Care Package website and get yours today!
An Irish girl, living and working in Osaka. Kat came to Japan expecting to stay a year and 3 years later, has no plan to leave after falling in love with the culture and beauty of the country. She’s passionate about writing, travel, fitness and new experiences.