Hi Arigato readers! I’m the founder of Bokksu, the premier subscription box and e- commerce marketplace for authentic Japanese snack food discovery. I developed my passion for Japanese culture and travel during the four years I lived in Tokyo before moving back home to NYC in 2013. Prior to Bokksu, I worked at Rakuten in Tokyo and at Google in California. In my spare time, I’m an avid rock climber who loves to get into fierce battles with friends over board games.
During the 4 years I lived and worked in Japan, I immersed myself in the culture, traveled all around the country, and stuffed my face with all the local snacks I could find. After returning to NYC, I suddenly lost access to the authentic snacks I had discovered, and soon ran out of my suitcase supply of snacks due to my friends’ insatiable appetite for them. Frustrated with the limited availability outside of Japan and yearning for a real taste of Japan again, I decided to do something about it and started working on Bokksu in 2015.
Bokksu offers both a monthly curated snack subscription box and an e-commerce marketplace selling snacks on demand. We directly partner with local 100+-year-old snack-makers across Japan to deliver both their artisanal snacks and their rich stories to people everywhere, which sustains and empowers local communities while spreading their traditional craft, culture, and history to the world.
We now have direct relationships with over 50 snack and tea makers throughout Japan. When we plan our monthly curations, we first decide a cultural theme based on season, region, or flavors, and then source dozens of samples of snacks that fits that month’s theme. Once the big box of snack samples arrive, we gather around as a team and taste each one to decide which flavors and textures work best together while staying true to the theme’s context. I know, it’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it!
As I mentioned, I used to live in Tokyo for 4 years. I also speak Japanese fluently, am crazy passionate about Japanese food, and have been together with my amazing Japanese husband for over 8 years! I used to go back to Japan once in a while, but now that work has gotten even busier, I’ve been going back once every 2 months for at least 2 weeks (the jet lag is getting hard in my old age!).
This is a very difficult question to answer! There are a lot of different types of Japanese food I love, but I have to say that my favorite is Mazesoba, which, if done well, has the most amazing harmony of chewy noodle texture, umami meat flavors, and sour vinegar flavorings. My favorite Japanese snack is anything with Mentai in it such as Hakata Mentai Shrimp Senbei from one of our makers, Hakata Fuubian!
I love your food tours! As someone who has eaten many hidden food gems in Tokyo, I was impressed at how there are just SO many more that I would have never found without Arigato to bring me there. In addition to the really delicious food and drinks, your super friendly and insightful tour guides also make the entire experience so rich and satisfying.
We actually just released an exciting new box called “Seasons of Japan,” which we spent many months tasting, designing, and producing. This delicious assortment of snacks and teas was curated to bring the best unique flavors across all four seasons of Japan, which is why every new subscriber that joins Bokksu for the first time will receive “Seasons of Japan” as their first box.
When I first started Bokksu by myself packing boxes in my living room, I didn’t yet have any direct connections to the makers nor did I have warehouse space in Japan. So I asked a good friend of mine who lives in Tokyo to help receive the snacks I bought from Japanese e-commerce sites and re-ship them to me in NYC. He was happy to help me at first, but after my business kept growing a few months later, his apartment started overflowing with boxes of snacks, so he begged me to find another solution. I had forgotten that apartments in Tokyo are usually small and compact since the city is so dense!
Thank you very much Danny for your time and for sharing your experiences. It is really a pleasure to team up with you!
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