Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Hokkaido Summer SakuraCo

Hokkaido Summer SakuraCo

Subscription box: SakuraCo

Theme/Month: Hokkaido Summer, July 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 3 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Sakura Co subscription, you can do it on their website.

SakuraCo is a new box that focuses on Japanese tea, sweets and snacks from local makers for you to enjoy. And the idea is that you take a unique snack journey around Japan with the contents of the box. I’ve been subscribed since the first box and so far enjoyed the journey.

As per usual, the box is crammed full of snacks and delicious treats, so let’s start unboxing from the top left and skipping the repeated snacks that ended away from their twin:

  • Melon Soft Sand, crispy crunchy wafer with a very thin layer of melon cream, but still very flavourful.
  • Butter Mochi Senbei, crunchy and slightly honey sweet mochi
  • Hokkaido Grilled Corn Senbei, sweet and full of corn flavour but not the way you expect.
  • Yubari Melon Jelly, a fresh summer melon, sweet and extremely pleasant, almost like biting the real thing.
  • Okina Dorayaki, just a nice fluffy dorayaki.
  • Hearty Age mochi, savoury mochi with a sea like taste.
  • Yubari Melon Cream Sandwich Cookies, the cookie kept confusing me but the cream was delicious.
  • Postcard
  • Yawaraka Rum Raisin, boozy and delicious, a contrast to the rest of the box for sure but a good one.
  • Hokkaido Milk Cheesecake, I prefer this type of cheesecake so much more. Absolutely delicious.
  • Milk Mochi, sticky and chewy and delicious.
  • Melon Mochi, I love these bags of mochi, absolute pleasure and last long enough even if I have to stop myself from eating them all at once.
  • Peach Matcha Tea
  • Kibi Dango, another mochi with chewy and sweet flavour.
  • Hangetsu side plate. It matches a tray in a previous box and fits nicely to present food.
  • The monthly leaflet with details fo each snack, ingredients, allergens and a bit of history of some of the choices or why focusing on melon and the region.

This box definitely gave me a summer vibe feel to it and I have enjoyed my way through it. It also had some familiar types of snacks but other new ones that surprised me, and I am slowly still figuring out what type of things I like the most. That cheesecake felt risky to eat at first but each bite made it just a favourite more and more.

Book Review

Moon Reads: Paradise Kiss

Paradise Kiss (20th Anniversary Edition) by Ai Yazawa

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px Grey

Read before: Yes, just not this particular omnibus presentation

Ownership: Bought as a treat once I found it existed.

Spoiler free review: No

Series: Paradise Kiss, this edition contains the full series.

Content warnings: Nudity, mild violence, mild sadomasochism, sexuality/sex

Paradise Kiss was one of my first mangas I ever read and to this day I still love it. It is about a young student, Yukari, who is trying to find meaning in her life and is doing her best to fulfill expectations, until she accidentally gets “discovered” by a group of fashion design students who think shed make the perfect model for their final project.

The full story follows Yukari and George, alongside the rest of the atelier and Yukari’s own friends and family as she initially rejects the proposal to be a model and then realises that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So she “joins” the atelier as their model and starts spending more and more time with them, which also means more time with George, with whom she establishes a relationship.

The manga is full of fashion desing, lots of amazing looks, a lot of relationships happening and things going on and it is just a delight to read, or at least it was to me. One thing ot mentionis that George has an interest in sadomasochism and can be manipulative nad abusive at times to Yukari, but it is part of the story that their relationships develops as it goes. There is also the relationship of the other atelier members and how they visualise George.

Overall, it has a special vibe and the young me that wanted to be a fashion designer loved it, plus it explores bisexuality, has a queer character and a lot of representation and alternative ways of life that show that it isnt all one way to make it and way to live. On top of that, the story doesn’t end when Yukari models for them, instead it suddenly opens a world of opportunities for her and a modelling career, so it is a good interesting show of what choices one can make and opportunities that we take or not.

I cannot recommend this enough as a manga to read, however, as per above I do highlight that it has some interesting topics and some content warnings that are there for a reason. This isn’t all honey and fashion and good vibes. It has a lot of tough topics and a lot of hard moments.

If manga isn’t your thing, you can always go the anime or live action way. I have watched the anime a few times but still haven’t the live action. It is good fun and only 12 episodes long. And overall, regardless of format, it is a well contained story that shows many sides of a coin and about making choices and taking opportunities.

Subscription Boxes

Moon Hauls: Discover Sakura SakuraCo

Subscription box: SakuraCo

Theme/Month: Discover Sakura, March 2021

Ownership: Subscribed on their 3 boxes option. If you are interested in purchasing a Sakura Co subscription, you can do it on their website.

SakuraCo is a new box that focuses on Japanese tea, sweets and snacks from local makers for you to enjoy. And the idea is that you take a unique snack journey around Japan with the contents of the box.

It felt suitable to post about their Sakura box, which is the first one so far, on the Spring Equinox since it has an amazing spring feel to it. As I write this, I have slowly been making my way through the snacks and enjoying them way too much.

So let’s see what was inside the box, which was packed to the rim and came in a bubble wrap packaging to protect the contents and box. Starting on the leaflet on the bottom and going counterclockwise:

  • A detailed “snack guide”, it is created in Japan so you read it right to left. It comes with an introduction, the area it focuses on, Niigata for this month, and a detailed description of each snack alongside allergens, makers and if it is suitable for vegetarians. I found this extremely helpful, as I could recognise some of the snacks but not all of them and this made it easy.
  • Sakura blossoms postcard from the curators.
  • Mini Sakura Senbei, which are soy sauce flavoured despite the pink colours.
  • Two Strawberry Castella cakes which are a perfect combination of sweet and tart and not too much. The sponge was to die for, honestly, perfectly springy and delicious.
  • Strawberry Dorayaki, I am particularly fond of dorayaki and this was delicious.
  • Sakura Madeleine, which looks absolutely delicious and perfectly moist.
  • Uji Matcha Castella, another sponge with one of the highest grades of matcha and red beans.
  • A peach sandwich.
  • Okayama White Peach Castella, more spongey goodness, I am converted to castella cakes.
  • Red Bean Taiyaki, exclusively made for this box.
  • Two sakura monaka, which are pink wafer enveloping red bean paste with a sakura scent.
  • In the pink box, Yoshino Kuzumochi which is an elegant mochi in syrup.
  • Two sweet sakura tea with blossoms in them.
  • A sakura strawberry crepe roll
  • Another monaka but this time with mochi in the little folded blossom square.
  • Sakura Konpeito, probably the item that gave me the most glee as I thought of the soot sprites from Spirited Away and felt like one of them.
  • A Sakura shrimp senbei
  • And below a sakurasen cracker which is a slightly savoury cracker.
  • Finally, as part of the collection and focus on Japanese afternoon tea, a sakura blossoms plate.

As you can see it was rich in content and as far as Ive enjoyed the treats, it has been well worth it. The box arrived surprisingly quickly and was a massive cheer up so as long as they keep this stunning quality, I am going to be hooked on it because it is so good.

Book Review

Moon Reads: The Art of Ghost of Tsushima

The Art of Ghost of Tsushima

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px MoonKestrel Logo2 20px

I ended ordering The Art of Ghost of Tsushima after realising that books of this kind for older games had sold out and I was desperately trying to find them. I have many reasons to buy an Art of book, but for hte most part is to see what is conceptual art, what was promotional, what ideas where bounced around and a few other details that you don’t see in the game or film.

The other reason I buy them is for reference, as sometimes I want to study the artwork, style or motifs and other I want to make fanart. So this would be a great encyclopaedia for drawing Jin and company.

The game has blow you away stunning visuals and as you can see from my chosen flat lay of the book, you can find the same alongside more details on clothing and character design and scenery. Honestly I just went page by page through it thinking that I’d love to just transplant myself to the scenery but preferably without the drama. Don’t want to be fighting mongols in real life thank you very much.

So, if you like game art and conceptual art or Japan or are intrigued by the artwork from it, this ia good book, the quality is stunning, presentation also wonderful. No faults from me except that I would like more pages and more art for the book.

Book Review

The Travelling Cat Chronicles Review

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The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

It’s not the journey that counts, but who’s at your side.

Nana, a cat, is devoted to Satoru, his owner. So when Satoru decides to go on a roadtrip one day to find him a new home, Nana is perplexed. They visit Satoru’s old friends from his school days and early youth. His friends may have untidy emotional lives but they are all animal lovers, and they also wonder why Satoru is trying to give his beloved cat away. Until the day Nana suddenly understands a long-held secret about his much-loved owner, and his heart begins to break.

Narrated in turns by Nana and by his owner, this funny, uplifting, heartrending story of a cat is nothing if not profoundly human.

Rating: MoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20pxMoonKestrel Logo2 20px

A perfect Japanese read (I promise this whole Japanese streak hasn’t been on purpose, it just happened). Best part, it is told from the point of view of the cat, Nana, and it was very interesting.

Nana’s voice is lovely and makes me smile to read all the antics and the way he thinks. But it also makes you wonder what is going in the heads of the humans because you really can’t know it all when it is being seen by a cat’s eyes.

It is also a heartbreaking book, and very beautiful (my edition had one or two illustrations and that made it cuter).

Moon recommends

Check out this wonderful book about a “travelling cat”.