My first experience with MUJI takes me all the way back to college.
I was studying in Manila and had been at SM Mall of Asia when I saw the grand opening of this Japanese minimalist store. Beyond the shelves filled with shampoo bottles and tea towels was a central booth filled with notebooks, notepads, stamps, paperclips, pencil cases, and pens of all tips and colors.
Many years later and I still have MUJI stationery in my collection not because of wacky cover designs or novelty pink paper, but the complete absence of any of those things.
This approach aligns with the company’s vision of taking everyday products and turning them into simple and beautiful products people would want to use for many years.
…to create products that are truly fundamental to day-to-day life without any unnecessary complexity. To achieve this, we take a second look at often neglected materials, streamline the production process, and simplify packaging to create simple, beautiful products that people will cherish for years.
The desire to go back to our roots and focus on simple, well-made products resonates completely. Eventually I’ve come to appreciate MUJI’s no-branding approach as an opportunity to be creative and expressive. Take a kraft notebook, grab your favorite brush pens and stamps, and turn it into a personalized journal only you could’ve made.
Unfortunately I’m short on artistic skills, so I don’t have a much more eye-catching example to share here. But every single MUJI notebook offers a clean space that you can decorate and call your own, whether for work, school, or for personal projects.
Gotta love smooth and recycled paper
Most of my Japanese stationery feature smooth, cream-colored paper that’s always easy on the eyes and a joy to write on.
MUJI notebooks feature paper of different qualities depending on the price and purpose. Though they’re more expensive, I always go for the A5 and B5 perfect bound notebooks sold individually as I’m partial to smooth and creamy pages. Artists can go for notebooks like the Craft Sketch Book so that the paper is thick and toothy enough to handle wet media like watercolor paint.
What’s great about these notebooks is they’re made with recycled paper. And even with eco-friendly paper the notebook still retains the simplicity and elegance Japanese stationery is well-known for. Using a ballpoint or gel pen, the ink does have some show-through but it doesn’t bleed or feather at all.
I highly recommend the MUJI 0.7mm black oil resin retractable pen. It still takes the top spot as my favorite ballpoint pen, and will always be the souvenir I take home after visiting Manila.
Plain, ruled, or graph?
In terms of variant, it’s graph or plain notebooks for me.
With graph paper, it gives me much more structure to work with, especially if I’m mind mapping or creating lists. With plain paper, I can be as free and creative with my notes and drafts. It won’t be long before MUJI will release a dot grid variant of their notebooks for planner and bullet journaling enthusiasts.
Finally, MUJI notebooks usually have about 30-185 pages, so they’re quite light, flat when opened, and easy to carry along. One might say it encourages us to be more mindful about how we use our notebooks.
Adding MUJI to your growing pile of unused notebooks?
There are many other Japanese stationery brands I’ve yet to discover and appreciate, but MUJI will always have that special place in my collection. If you’re in the Philippines, you can step into any of their branches and make a beeline for their stationery booth.