A Multinational Curation Team

Led by Stella Chao in Montreal, Canada and Naoki Inoue in Osaka, Japan! Sourced in Japan Locally, Delivered to Your Door Globally.

Stella Chao Meets Naoki Inoue


When Stella Chao Meets Naoki Inoue

The experience of studying abroad in Japan made Stella Chao fall in love with Japan and decided to spread Japanese culture to the world after returning to Canada. Born in Ako and raised in Osaka and Akashi (a city next to Kobe), Naoki Inoue has always had a dream to bring Japanese snacks and drinks to people all over the world. Now they share a common purpose at Shotengai with our multinational team.

Naoki Inoue


Naoki Inoue (井上直樹)

I grew up in Osaka, which is known as the food capital of Japan by Japanese people. It's even becoming known that way for people around the world, and comes with a famous saying "Kuidaore", meaning "to eat until you are broke". The largest shopping street in Japan, Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, was located near my childhood home. At that time, there was no such thing as a shopping mall. Therefore, Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai was where we bought almost everything. Every time our mother went to buy daily necessities, my older brother, younger brother and I couldn't take our eyes away from the dazzling snacks displayed at the entrance. The more we looked at them, the more we wanted them. However, we could only share one chocolate bar by breaking it into three parts because of our limited pocket money (around 20 yen a day). Since we couldn't break it evenly, my older brother always got the biggest piece.

Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai was divided into six blocks. The sixth block (Roku-chome) was the closest one to my house. Our parents told us not to go to the fifth block (Go-chome) alone, so the fifth block was an unknown world to me.

One day during my 2nd-grade summer vacation, my friend told me he could take me to an okonomiyaki restaurant in the fabled Go-chome. Led by my friend, I finally took a leap of faith and set foot in Go-chome. The first thing I noticed was the smell of roasted rice cakes with soy sauce. Then, I found a toy store much larger than the one in Roku-chome. I was so excited; it was as if I had found a treasure trove. I was later scolded for going there because I didn't notify my parents in advance.

Later, my family moved to Akashi, and I had no chance to realize my dream of walking through all of Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai. Now, whenever I go back to my hometown or go to a new place, I always visit the local shotengai. Walking through one, you can understand characteristics of locals and hear local dialects, which is the best way to get to know a place. That's why I recommend everyone to walk around a shotengai in Japan, and, if possible, accompanied by a local friend. And before you get the chance to go to Japan for yourself, we at Shotengai would like to be your exclusive guide to explore the splendid treasure trove of Japanese shotengai through our snack box subscriptions and products.



From Concept To Reality

We curate a new box around a different theme monthly filled with limited-edition Japanese snacks, drinks, and more. You can subscribe to our snack boxes and have them delivered to your door directly from Japan to start discovering Japan through snacks! Enjoy Japanese snacks, teas and candies with friends and family when celebrating the holidays, or any day!