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August No.1: A Musical Composition

Here’s something I’ve worked on over the last couple of days, as I fiddled about with my new musical equipment. Since it’s the the first composition I completed this month, I’m calling it “August No. 1”; guess what I’ll call subsequent compositions if I manage any additional one this month. This one is a vaguely 80-ish electronic instrumental, and it’s a combination of samples, programmed drums and keyboard parts I did myself. I made it echoey and drone-y because I kind of like echoey and drone-y.

For you music nerds, it’s in A minor and it’s at 120 beats a minute, mostly because that’s the default tempo of the DAW I used, and I didn’t bother to change it out this time.

Enjoy!

https://whatever.scalzi.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/August-No-1.mp3

— JS

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Athena Scalzi

Sakuraco August Box Review

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your regular monthly Japanese snackbox review! Today I’ll be reviewing Sakuraco’s August box. I wanted to mention that in the comments of a recent post of mine, several people told me that they really enjoy these particular posts, and some even said that these posts are their favorite kind! Funnily enough, they’re my favorite to do, so I’m very happy that so many of you wonderful people seem to enjoy them.

Moving on, if you haven’t heard of Sakuraco before, they are a company that strives to bring you an assortment of authentic Japanese tea time goods, including different snacks such as cakes, mochi, senbei, and much more. Each monthly box also features a home good item, such as a bowl or cup. Each month has a theme, and this month’s theme was Okinawa. I think the idea of having a place be the theme is really cool. They did that for July as well, with the theme being Hokkaido.

Without further ado, let’s dive in to this month’s box! I reviewed this one with a friend of mine, so I’ll include some of their thoughts and rating alongside mine.

First up, these Kombu Arare Crackers:

These crackers are seriously addicting. They’re so small and snackable, it’s a good thing there’s so many in the bag! There were three different flavors of the rice crackers in the bag: seaweed, shrimp, and soy sauce. My personal favorite of the three was the shrimp flavor, but the other two were really tasty, too. Pleasantly crunchy with a bit of a toasty flavor to them, these were an easy 8/10 for my friend, and a 7/10 for myself.

Next up was the Issa Senbei:

The first thing you’ll notice about these ornate crackers is that they are oddly sweet. They almost seem like they shouldn’t be classified as a cracker at all. Not that I didn’t totally love the sweetness, unexpected as it was. This senbei was not only delicious, but had a very pleasant texture, as well. I would definitely eat more of these if given the chance. My friend did not like them as much, and was off-put by the sweetness, so they only rated them a 5/10, while I gave it a 9/10.

Third, we had the Beni Imo Pie:

Honestly, this lil’ guy did not have a lot going on. It was pretty dry, a little sweet, but mostly just tasted like a sweet potato.  Of course, the purple sweet potato is a key feature of Okinawa, so the purple color is natural. The sweet potato filling is accompanied by sweet red bean, so it was pretty good overall. My friend and I both thought it was pretty okay, so we gave it a 7/10.

Following that, we have the Snow Salt Chinsuko:

These little cookies are the bomb dot com! Dense, buttery shortbread, sprinkled with a hint of salt that compliments the subtle sweetness of the cookie? So yummy. I could seriously eat a whole box of these. They’re a little on the small side, but rumor has it the best things come in small packages. My friend totally agreed on how tasty these were, and we both gave them a 9/10.

Next up is the Kogane Shikuwasa Manju:

As soon as you open the package for these soft little cakes, you’ll be greeted by a wonderfully fresh orange scent. These cakes tasted as good as they smelled, with just the right amount of sweetness mixed with the tangy orange flavor. They were light and airy, and overall super delicious! They earned themselves a 9/10 from my friend, and a 10/10 from me.

Sixthly, we have the Yuzu Monaka:

I could’ve sworn I had this exact thing in a previous box, but I looked through the past couple ones and didn’t see it. Anyways, yuzu is a citrus fruit, and normally I really like citrus flavored stuff, but this one was kinda meh. Plus, the monaka was disappointing as usual, since it was dry and crumbly instead of crispy. The jelly inside was pretty alright, nothing spectacular, but my friend didn’t like the texture of the jelly, so, my friend gave it a 6/10 and I deemed it a 5/10.

Next on the list are these Mini Salted Tofu Chips:

Oh my goodness these slap. They’re crispy, salty, seaweedy goodness that you will surely demolish in no time. I would eat these regularly if I could. They are so addicting, you won’t be able to stop eating them until you’ve finished the whole bag. A lot of umami flavors going on, but not in an overwhelming way. These earned a 9/10 from both of us.

Following that, we have the Brown Sugar Shisa Candy:

Another absolute banger of a snack. If you have ever had brown sugar milk tea, these taste exactly like that creamy sugary goodness we all know and love. These are like if brown sugar milk tea was condensed into a tiny candy and solidified, and they are so delicious. There was actually a surprising amount of these hard candies in the bag, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. And they last around fifteen minutes (assuming you don’t bite them)! Plus, they are adorably shaped, as they come in the shape of shisa, which are mythological guardian lions. These were an easy 10/10 from both of us.

Ninthly, we have these Lightly Salted Red Bean Manju:

Upon first appearance, these kind of look like mini corn dogs. Anyways, you all know I love red bean, but the flavor of these was underwhelming. Also, the cake was weirdly firm, and honestly pretty dry. This little cake was largely unremarkable, so it only got a 6/10 from my friend, and a 5/10 from me.

Following up with another manju, we have the Brown Sugar Manju:

Fortunately, this manju was much better than the previous one. I feel like you can tell just by looking at it that it is the superior manju. It was soft, with just a little bit of a chewy texture, and tasted like molasses. Personally, I really love a rich, molasses flavor, so this cake did not disappoint. My friend gave it a 7/10 and I went with an 8/10.

Next up, we have the Apple and Mango Melange Jelly:

I’m sure many of you know by now how much I dread eating these damn jelly cups. They’re always so grossly textured, and sadly this one was no different. I seriously cannot stand the slimy, slippery-ness of these cup jelly things, but at least the flavor of this one was pretty good. It tasted like applesauce! My friend agrees with me about the texture, but says that the flavor almost makes it redeemable, so they gave it a 5/10, while I settled on a 4/10.

Twelfthly, we have these Beni Imo Donuts:

These look a lot more like donut holes than donuts to me, but let’s get dwindle on technicalities. These donut ball things were hard, dry, and overall just seemed pretty stale. I feel like maybe if I heated them up and they softened a bit they’d be better? Because honestly the flavor was perfectly good, it just seemed like they were normal donut holes that had sat out too long and became hard. The dryness didn’t really bother my friend, so they gave it an 8/10, and while the flavor was pretty good, I had to go with a 6/10.

As we start to wrap things up, we have the Beni Imo Tarte:

I feel like just by looking at this, you can tell it was the worst item in the box. Like what is that appearance! Also, it was so tiny, like one and half bites worth of pastry going on there. I almost didn’t try it because it literally smelled like dog food. My friend agreed, but we persevered and tried it anyways, and fortunately it did not taste how it smelled. In fact, it didn’t really taste like anything. There was practically no flavor! My friend was a little less harsh on this purple pastry, and gave it a 5/10, while I gave it a 2/10.

Lastly, for the snacks, we have the Shiquwasa Jelly:

Okay, here we have another jelly. However, I finally wised up to the fact I hate these damn jelly things, and I froze it. That’s right, I turned it into sherbet. Am I a mad genius? Some would say yes, but others would say that the booklet description says “enjoy it chilled or try it frozen as a sorbet”. I have to say, freezing these things is a game changer. I wish I had frozen the other one, since, as I mentioned, the flavor was good. Freezing this one turned it from that yucky looking slime into a copycat lemon Italian ice. It was actually super enjoyable! The lemon flavor was so refreshing, and not artificial tasting at all. I don’t think this would have worked as well with a jelly that wasn’t citrus flavored. Like I doubt red bean jelly would taste good all icy and sorbet-y. After about ten minutes, it started to thaw and return to its jelly form, and it became kind of gross to me again. So, in it’s frozen form only, my friend and I give it an 8/10. I have no idea what the rating would have been like if I had just eaten it as is. Probably a solid three or four, if I had to guess from past jelly experiences.

Now that we’re through all the snacks, we have the home good. This is a Sakura Pattern Owan Bowl:

I honestly love the appearance of this little bowl, the design and colors are super cute, and its tiny size is adorable, as well. It is plastic, but the booklet says that it is microwave and dishwasher safe, which is a notable improvement from some of the past items which are neither or only one of the two. This is definitely one of my favorite home good items I’ve received over the past several months.

Finally, we have the tea.

In case you don’t remember from previous posts, I never drink the teas because I feel it is unfair to rate something I know I don’t like. Alas, even though I love everything about tea aesthetically speaking, I really don’t like consuming tea, so I never try the ones that come in the box. The booklet says this tea has a Jasmine flavor, which honestly sounds appealing. I’ve never had Jasmine tea. Maybe I should give it a try.

So, there you have it! This box definitely had some good stuff, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite or anything. I’m not sure sure if this one would even be in my top three. But it was awesome nonetheless! I love trying tons of new stuff every month, and I highly recommend Sakuraco. If you want to give it a try, you can find the pricing for subscriptions here.

If you get Sakuraco as well, what was your favorite snack this month? If you don’t, what snack here looks or sounds the best to you? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

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