As soon as we received our Japan visas, all I could dream about was bringing home beautiful, quality Japanese stationery.
Some would even say it has a cult following—communities of enthusiasts gushing over the creamy pages, clean-cut bindings, and gorgeous inks.
I fell head-over-heels in love when I first held the Apica CD notebook (A5) with grid paper. It had some of the smoothest paper any writer could behold. 😍
But try as I could, my budget and my suitcase wasn’t big enough to bring back every Japanese notebook, paper, and pencils I could get my hands on, but I did choose items that were both in my wish list for some time and that I just had take off the shelf. More importantly, I made sure to choose stationery that were either made in Japan, or made exclusively for Japan.
Stationery haul from Osaka, Japan
This first section features stationery bought while visiting Osaka, Japan. It was a four-day stay where we got to visit the Fushimi Inari shrine, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple (a UNESCO world heritage site), Universal Studios Japan, and the infamous Mount Fuji, among many other places we were bound for.
I was lucky enough to discover and pick up a couple of beautifully made notebooks during the visit. Check ’em out:
B6 notebook of a Japanese geisha entering the tori gates
We visited the Kuromon Ichiba market on our first day on tour. It was jam-packed, the place lined with 170 food stalls and souvenir shops for locals and tourists alike.
If it weren’t for the boys being so fussy, I wouldn’t have spotted one of these souvenir shops selling Japanese stationery. This B6-sized notebook’s plain as it is, but the cover features a Japanese geisha staring at the fox guardian as she’s about to journey into the tori gates. It drew me in right away that I had to take it with me before we got back on the bus.
Harry Potter replica exercise book by MinaLima from Universal Studios Japan
MinaLima is a graphic design studio by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima. They teamed up in 2002 when they were tasked to “to imagine and create the graphic universe of the Harry Potter film series.”
I first discovered MinaLima through their line of interactive children’s classics, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. When I learned they made art for the Harry Potter series, I longed to own something from the franchise they owned.
Imagine how I felt when I saw a collection of these Harry Potter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy notebooks in one of the shelves at Ollivander’s? ⚡
This notebook’s made exclusively for guests at the theme park and features a gorgeous hardcover bound tight with black book cloth. The notebook’s description’s printed in gold foil on the belly band, and it’s got dotted ruled pages so it’s easy to create straight lines and take notes. It was extremely difficult choosing from all the other stationery displayed on that shelf, but I was happy with this notebook.
I also made sure to grab goodies from Honeydukes before exiting the park and heading back to the fam. 🍬💥
Mt. Fuji stickers and rubber pencil case by p+g design
On the first day of 2019, we got on a shuttle bound for Mt. Fuji. It was a bright and clear morning, so we got to see Mt. Fuji in all of its splendor.
Our tour guide shared that if you see Mt. Fuji on New Years Day without clouds covering its face, you’ll receive good luck for the rest of the year. It was definitely something to celebrate, so I made sure to add Mt. Fuji stationery and gift items while shopping for souvenirs.
I absolutely adore my Mt. Fuji p+g design rubber pencil case and this pack of 50 stickers. It’s what I use to decorate my Mossery 2019 planner, which I broke open as soon as I woke, and to store my pens whenever I’m heading out.
Kokuyo Campus Limited Edition Pokemon notebook set
My obsession for Pokemon stationery continues with this adorable set of Kokuyo Campus limited edition pixelated Pokemon notebooks. 😍
After visiting Mt. Fuji, we stopped by the Gotemba Premium Outlets for some last-minute shopping. As soon as we saw the Pokemon outlet store in the directory, the kids and I searched for it so we can get our hands on some Pokemon goodies.
While they were choosing which Pokemon to take home, I held these notebooks close, like a lioness with its mouth on a fresh catch. They’re as functional as any Kokuyo notebook could ever be, with dotted lines to guide you as you take notes, jot down your research, or create diagrams to better visualize your work.
Stationery haul from Itoya Ginza
Visiting the famous 100-year old stationery store Itoya was my first thought as soon as we stepped out of the Shinkansen and into our first night at Tokyo.
There are many Itoya branches, but I wanted to visit the shop in Ginza as it’s known to be Japan’s most famous stationery store. The main store’s got 12 themed floors, 8 of which feature gorgeous stationery items, arts and crafts, tools for professionals, and home and lifestyle products to spruce up your home.
Holly and I left the boys at a nearby Starbucks to visit both sides of Itoya. Here are my picks, painful as it were to leave the rest behind 😭:
A Hallmark lettering set
I was on the second floor called “Letter” where customers can pick out a lettering set, write letters, and send them off right at the store. ❤️
It was so difficult to choose from all the sets on display, but I kept coming back to this pink Hallmark lettering set that featured symbols of Japanese culture on both the paper and envelopes. I made sure to write a letter to my Ama with this very set as soon as I got back to the Philippines.
Midori® and Let’s Make! custom stickers
Itoya’s fourth floor, “Schedule,” was my absolute favorite.
It was planner heaven—A4, A5, B5, B6 planners all around to start the year with. This floor was understandably busier since people were eager to choose their planners for 2019.
I didn’t buy a planner since I already had one, but I made sure to take home these custom stickers to add emphasis to dates, express my mood, record memories and to schedule monthly projects and tasks.
“Tako” and “Iwashi” Itoya notebooks
Once we were done at the main stationery store, we crossed the street to check out Itoya’s second building where you’ll find more casual selections of school and office supplies.
I went up to the second floor where all the paper products were sold, and for some strange reason I just couldn’t take my eyes off of these special Itoya notebooks.
“Tako” is Japanese for octopus 🐙 while “iwashi” is for sardine. And if you turn the front cover open, you’ll find a simple recipe you can try when making a meal out of either.
What’s peculiar about these is they feature pages printed with thinner grid lines that what I normally find in grid notebooks. My guess is it’s meant for writers writing in Japanese, but I’m interested to know what type of paper this is and how to best use it. If anyone knows exactly what this paper is, reach out to me either here or on Twitter!
LIFE Margin A5 Section notebook
The Margin series of LIFE notebooks launched in April 2016 and marked the brand’s second anniversary last year. It features smooth writing paper that LIFE has always been famous for, and a thin red margin so it’s easy to make lists, bullet points, and additional notes on the side.
I’m so in love with this functional notebook. You just don’t feel any hesitation to use it for all of your writing needs. ❤️✍️ If these were the notebooks I used in school, I probably would’ve enjoyed attending classes and doing research even more.
Kokuyo Campus A5 Section notebook
Here’s another Kokuyo Campus delight I’m so excited to use for self-study. It features saddle-stitch binding that lets the notebook lie flat so you can write easily with it. You can then label the notebook using the title lines on the front cover.
As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of grid/graph paper, so I made sure this Kokuyo notebook featured grid paper.
Midori® B writing pencils
I intended to pick up a Zebra Sarasa or a Pilot pen before heading out of the store, but these Midori® set of B writing pencils were just too classy to ignore.
I haven’t given these a try yet since I still have a batch of pencils to use, but they’re pegged as a B so it might just be slightly soft when compared to your typical HB pencil. I’ll update this post as soon as I’ve given it a go! ✏️
I’ll be back, Japan
Japan truly is a wonder in many small and big ways. The dedication these craftsmen show towards their work truly shines in the many products that make Japanese stationery so famous.
I’m so happy with my stationery haul and look forward to my next visit. It’s likely going to be Tokyo alone, with more time and more money to spend on pens, notebooks, and pencils that you can’t find anywhere but here.