After living in Japan for a few months I started to learn how amazing their stationery is. As someone who has always had a love of pens and notebooks, I don’t know how I’ve gone this far in life not knowing Japanese stationery is as amazing as it is. So, if you’re out there, wanting to get some new stationery, or wanting to learn about Japanese stationery, I wanted to put together this list of must-have Japanese stationery. It includes many of my favorite items and some items that others have told me are exceptionally Japanese and useful.
But first, if you don’t know about Japanese stationery, you might be wondering why it’s so special and talked about. First, it’s inexpensive in relation to other items of the same quality you might find in the U.S., the U.K. or Australia. It’s also full of Japanese ingenuity. If you didn’t know, Japanese people are some of the most inventive, always finding ways to make life easier or thinking outside the box to solve annoying problems. That is evident in their stationery. You’ll see below a few items that, if you’ve never seen them before, seem like they should be popular all over the world. But enough of me talking, let’s get into the list.
**Quick note. Most of the links below are to the products on Amazon. This is mostly because a) everyone shops on amazon. b) you can find anyone on amazon. and c) I have affiliate links so I can make a little $ if you decide to buy anything. However, because these are Japanese items that might not be found in your country, the price can vary greatly. Sometimes that’s just going to be the case because it costs the supplier a lot to get it over from Japan. Or, it’s just someone jacking up the price because it’s unique or buyers may not know it’s not worth that much. So, just be aware that there might be cheaper options online elsewhere. I’m soon going to be putting together a post on all of the places you may be able to find Japanese stationery online if you’re in the U.S. specifically
Since first released in 1945, the pencil 8900 has been representative of all pencils in Japan. You can smoothly write or draw with it. The density ranges from 2H (the lightest) to 2B (the heaviest), so you can select pitch-black pencils or light black ones according to your favor or purpose.
This is literally a very mechanical pencil. The mechanics within the pencil rotates the lead every time it is pushed onto the paper, so the lead will stay sharp all the time. You may have felt troubled that the lead gets blunt while you keep writing with a mechanical pencil, but with Kuru Toga you will no longer need to feel the stress!
Japanese stationery company Platinum produces mechanical pencils for drafting. These pencils have a functional but beautiful and highly sophisticated design. I recommend these mechanical pencils to those who want to possess something professional in their daily lives.
The Orenz mechanical pencil features 0.2 mm lead for amazingly thin, clean lines. It’s great for writing notes, math problems, graphs, and more!
Despite being so fine, the lead doesn’t break as you write, due to the innovative Orenz mechanism. The guide pipe protects the entire length of the lead, and you write without extending the lead out of the guide pipe, which glides right along the surface of the paper. Since it has rounded edges, the guide pipe doesn’t catch on the paper or scratch it. As you write, the guide pipe gets shorter. When you need more lead, just click the top button as you would with any other mechanical pencil. The guide pipe will extend again, along with the lead inside.
Because there’s no lead breakage, your papers remain clean without smudges from broken lead dust. You can also retract the guide pipe so it doesn’t poke you or your belongings when you’ve stowed the pencil away.
Gel-ink ballpoint pen with a frosted body for writing or drawing. The tip of the pen uses a mechanism to keep the ink from flowing in the reverse direction and drying out. The water-based ink allows for smooth writing and no bleeding through papers. It also produces bright colors.
Available in a dazzling array of colors and featuring a convenient double-sided design, Tombow Dual Brush pens are wonderful for drawing, lettering, and crafting. It’s no wonder that they are so popular among artists and crafters alike!
Flexible and resilient nylon brush tip for creating fine, medium, and broad strokes.
Sturdy bullet tip for drawing consistent fine lines.
The Hi-Tec-C is a humble-looking pen with a well-deserved and enthusiastic following. Its precise needle-point tip is specially designed to provide minimal drag and effortless ink flow. The pen’s vivid gel ink is made of a special biopolymer resin whose high viscosity prevents feathering and bleed-through. The ink has enough water resistance to prevent your notes from getting ruined by spills or rain, but it is also soluble enough that artists can create subtle shading and wash effects with a water brush.
Invented in the 1980s, the Gelly Roll was the world’s first gel ink pen. Since then, Sakura has continued to refine and improve their gel ink formula. These Gelly Roll Classic pens feature rich, smooth ink that is archival, waterproof, fade resistant, and resistant to chemicals used to commit check fraud. The ink also resists feathering and bleed-through on most papers. These pens are perfect for writing letters, decorating scrapbooks, and highlighting stamps and artwork.
The Uni-ball Jetstream is one of our all-time-favorite pens, and it’s not hard to see why. Featuring a special low-viscosity ballpoint ink, the Jetstream combines the smoothness, waterproofness, and fast drying times of a ballpoint pen with the vibrant color and crisp, consistent lines of a gel pen. Its ink cartridges feature a special spring mechanism that prevents ink leakage, plus a twin ball in the back of the tip to prevent backflow.
This multi pen features a slim, monochromatic body—perfect for slipping into a pocket or pen pouch. It has wide push tabs to easily switch between black, blue, or red ink.
The long awaited retractable version of the popular Pilot FriXion line. FriXion pens are extremely popular in Japan and can be found absolutely anywhere eve in convenient stores. Pen features the same beloved thermo-sensitive ink that can be erased by friction, but now comes in a sleek, retractable body. Just push the clip to extend and retract the tip. A subtle yellow color appears along the barrel side to show when the pen is extended. The special rubber tip at the end allows you to erase conveniently without having to cap or uncap your pen. The pen writes smoothly and erases without a trace! Refills available for select ink colors and point sizes only.
The feature of this highlighter is the transparent window put at the pen point. As you can see the characters or lines that you are going to highlight through this window, you can avoid highlighting excessive words.
The ink of FRIXION light is special. It turns transparent when it is heated to reaches a certain temperature. The tail end of the highlighter has a rubber that can generate frictional heat and delete the lines drawn. As the ink is erased by the heat, it will recover the color if you cool it, such as in a fridge
Featuring softly colored ink, the Zebra Mildliner is perfect for the times when you want to highlight something without overwhelming everything else on the page. It features water-based ink and a convenient double-sided design—a standard chisel tip on one end for normal highlighting and a fine bullet tip on the other for underlining, circling, and writing notes
A “shitajiki” is a flexible plastic writing board, or pencil board, that you place under a sheet of writing paper. It provides a smooth writing surface and prevents marking or denting the pages underneath. This shitajiki writing board is translucent and printed with a convenient 5 mm graph. There are ruler markings along the top and right edges to help you divide the page. The shitajiki is lightweight and crack-resistant, perfect for carrying around in your backpack. It also comes with a sticker for writing your name that you can stick on the board.
Swingcut has a characteristic asymmetrical shape, which makes it possible to cut smoothly with relatively small power. The shape is designed to fit your hand perfectly and make the most of the strength put into cutting. This product achieved the Japan Stationery Prize and Good Design Award in 2014, both prestigious awards for well-designed and functional products.
These pairs of scissors are folding scissors. They can be folded into compact sticks, so they don’t take up so much space in your pencil case. Take care when going back to your country, as scissors are not allowed on airplanes in your carry-on luggage.
Midori Box Cutters
This compact ceramic cutter is perfect for cutting everything from boxes to single sheets of copy paper. It can even be used as a letter opener! The blade is made by Kyocera, which is known for its high-quality ceramic knives and blades. Unlike metal, ceramic blades are both durable and rust-proof.
To cut thick items like cardboard boxes, place the angled side of the cutter against the surface so that the entire blade cuts into the item. To cut a single sheet of copy paper or open a letter, place the flat side of the cutter on the surface so that only the tip of the blade cuts the paper.
The cutter’s sturdy fiberglass body doubles as a secure case, which protects the blade and your fingers when closed. When fully opened, its round shape fits snugly into your hand for comfortable use. A magnet in the back of the case lets you attach it to a desk, refrigerator, or other metal surface for easy storage.
These 2-in-1 scissors include a built-in cutter that makes it easy to snip tags, cut tape, and open boxes with one handy tool. Use the scissors as you normally would to cut paper, string, and similar items. The blades are especially good for cutting tape, as they resist sticky residue in two ways: small ridges on the inside of both blades reduce the amount of sticky material that touches the blades, and a special “glueless” treatment makes it harder for sticky material to adhere to the blades. The blades of these scissors are also coated with titanium for extra durability.
When you need to open boxes, use the cutter component. This blade protrudes only 1 mm so you won’t cut too deeply into the package and damage the items inside. To use the cutter, squeeze the scissor handles together and push the slider on the side of the top handle forward. The top scissor blade will move down and expose the tip of its cutting edge.
You do not need to keep holding the slider forward after you’ve unlocked the blade. The cutting edge will stay extended as long as you keep squeezing the handles together, and will retract as soon as you let go. This prevents you from accidentally leaving the blade exposed when you’re done using it. There is a small plastic finger rest on the top blade to help you press down more comfortably when using the cutter. A safety cap covers the blades when not in use.
Opening envelopes safely and cleanly is a breeze with this innovative letter opener! Simply insert a corner of the envelope into the groove and slide the opener along its edge. The ceramic blade will create a clean cut with little or no paper debris. The ceramic blade—which is 5 times more durable than steel—can cut in either direction and is safely nestled inside the groove of the opener where it cannot accidentally cut your fingers. The opener features an indent for gripping comfortably with the thumb of either hand, as well as a loop for attaching it to a lanyard or keychain. Its thin, lightweight design makes it easy to store or carry with you anywhere.
Well, have you ever felt troubled by the wrinkled paper when gluing? These tape paste can free you from that trouble. You can paste paper neatly and cleanly without annoying wrinkles. Cartridges are also sold, so don’t forget to get them for a refill.
This convenient adhesive tape runner is great for paper crafts, scrapbooking, and other art projects. The runner dispenses the adhesive cleanly and precisely, and the adhesive is acid free, archival safe, and photo safe. Replacement adhesive cartridges are easy to install and can be found under Recommended Refills/Parts.
This adhesive tape runner features removable adhesive. Items glued together with this adhesive can be easily removed, and the adhesive wipes off cleanly without leaving any stains or residue.
Nichiban’s Tenori adhesive stamp lets you apply adhesive in two ways—stamp or roll! It’s perfect for pasting photos, scrapbooking, making envelopes, and other craftwork. The Tenori contains a roll of adhesive tape. For stamping, first position the stamp using the white guide, then simply press the plunger, and a small rectangle of adhesive is instantly applied. Thanks to the guide, you do not need to hold the paper in place. This makes it easier to apply adhesive to small pieces of paper that are difficult to hold in place using your fingers. To use the stamp as a roller, push the guide into the body, tilt the stamp to align the red guide dot with the surface to be glued, and start rolling. A continuous strip of adhesive is applied.
The strong, acid-free adhesive is light blue with a dot pattern. Stamped rectangles measure approximately 7 x 10 mm each. One roll of adhesive tape is 6.5 m (21.3 ft.) long and can stamp approximately 600 rectangles. Refills are available.
This eraser is very innovative. Don’t you notice that its unique shape has a lot of corners? These corners are useful in erasing small mistakes. Additionally, when one block of the eraser is shaved away, then new edges appear.
I’m not lying when I say there are endless eraser options too! From professional use to cute puzzle rubber erasers, you’ll definitely want to check them out! There are kawaii erasers in the form of fruits and vegetables that are very well known among teenagers. There are scented erasers as well; the Cola scented ones are especially famous! In particular, we recommend looking for Iwako brand erasers, available in dozens of colors and varieties. They are also Japan-made, high in quality, and are found sold in sets at a variety of stationery stores across Japan for a few hundred yen. For a lower price, you can often find 100-yen stores carrying their own versions.
Tombow has created (according to their research) the thinnest and most agile eraser line on the market! The insightful designer created an eraser that logically fits its function. With pencil leads so thin, the correction tool should be an eraser that is shaped similarly to its nemesis. Two shapes are available, a 2.3 mm round shape and a 2.5 mm x 5 mm rectangular shape.
The eraser can be advanced forward with a push of the top. The body features a metal holder at the end to withstand hard pressure. The design of the holder facilitates precise movements and includes a clip for easy carrying. The eraser is refillable, and is the same high quality eraser that Tombow is famous for.
This correction tape has a flexible head and a unique shape. It is designed to reflect the movement of the hand effectively. The tape width ranges from 4mm to 6mm. This product also achieved the Good Design Award in 2008.
This product is categorized as ‘erasers’ too because a correction tape is equipped at the top end and an eraser is set at the tail end. It is, as its name shows, actually two-way. Those of us who often use both pen and pencil (or a pen + pencil multi pen!) will find that the Tombow Mono 2way Correction Tape + Eraser is the perfect all-in-one correction tool. One end has a slide-out correction tape head, while the other has a twist-out eraser. Both can be retracted when not in use, ensuring protection against damage. The correction tape and eraser are refillable.
Standard dispensers have immobile heads that can cause scratchy tape lines and incomplete tape. This correction tape dispenser features a movable dual head capable of staying flush against the paper. Now you can have clean, full tape dispensed at every use. The dispenser head rotates and flexes as it glides across the paper, making it easy to use, comfortable to hold, and excellent at covering mistakes. 4 mm, 5 mm and 6 mm tape widths and refills available.
Correcting mistakes is as easy as writing over them with the Pentel Power-Corre Correction Pen. There’s no need to shake it or fumble with a cap—simply extend the tip with a click of the top button, and it’s ready to use!
Convenient retractable design.
Pressurized ink cartridge ensures a smooth and even flow every time you press the tip down against the page.
Needle-point tip provides a clear view of the correction area.
See-through grip section lets you see when the pen needs to be refilled.
Safety mechanism that automatically retracts the tip when the clip is used, preventing accidental leaks if you forget to retract the tip before pocketing the pen.
Midori is known for their unique clips of paper and filing items. They produce beautiful products like notebooks, sticky notes, etc. These items will make your day better and cheer you up! Their original character “ojisan” items are must-have and you will definitely fall for his one-of-a-kind look and lovable behaviour. We’d recommend the animal paper clips though, you can create your own zoo of organized paper!
These ingenious binder clips have handles that fold flat to the side, staying out of the way when flipping through the clipped pages. You can also use the handles to hang documents—a non-damaging alternative to pushpins or tape.
These ingenious binder clips have handles that fold flat to the side, staying out of the way when flipping through the clipped pages. You can also use the handles to hang documents—a non-damaging alternative to pushpins or tape.
This stapler is unique looking and compact! Even more it is stapleless!! No more trouble buying new staples, forgetting to bring staples, or hurting your fingers trying to take out staples! It comes in several colors and can easily be stored away somewhere convenient! Also, very eco-friendly! Who knew a stapler could be so exciting?!
The Sun-Star Stickyle Pen Style Stapler is a handy way to take staples with you wherever you go! The stapler is discreet and easy to use – pull open the lip, slide the top switch down into the “set” position, then close the lip. The stapler mechanism should now rest on the plate attached to the top switch, allowing the stapler to be used easily with one hand. When you’re finished using the stapler, simply pull open the lip, slide the switch back up into the “lock” position, and close the lip. The end of the stapler has a compartment that will hold extra staples, or paper clips.
How to use:
1) Put the paper together.
2) Insert the paper to the stapler, and push the handle all the way down.
3) After you push down the handle completely, let go and remove the paper from the stapler.
Please note that you cannot staple cardboard, plastic, or laminated paper, or any paper that is softer than ordinary copy paper (like tissue paper).
Removing staples becomes a cinch with this Kokuyo staple remover. Simply slide the tip under the staple and remove it, then nudge the center slider to discard it. It’s an easy one-handed process. Up to 10 staples can be collected on the remover before they should be discarded. This staple remover can remove No. 10 staples as well as standard-size staples. It is made of recycled ABS plastic.
These tiny sticky notes are the perfect size to use as page flags and index tabs. The adhesive covers more than half of the back of the notes to ensure that the notes stay put, but they are still easy to remove and re-stick. The paper is easy to write on. Try writing on the non-adhesive edge to use the notes as index tabs, or use them horizontally to make movable entries in your planner.
Have you ever bookmarked a page, only to go back and not remember exactly what part of the page you were interested in? Enter the innovative Kokosasu Page Markers. “Kokosasu” means “point here,” and that’s exactly what these page markers do! Stick them on the exact location you want to mark on the page. Then tear off the long part at the micro perforation and use it as a flag to bookmark the page. When you flip back to the marked page, the smaller piece helps you immediately locate the specific information you need. They’re great to use with books, notes, calendars, magazines, and more.
These cute stickers are perfectly sized to fit into the squares of a monthly planner or calendar, making them great for noting plans and events. They’re easy to remove and re-stick, so tentative plans can always be moved to another day. The backing sheet also doubles as a handy bookmark when folded over the page.
Note: These stickers fit best in an A5 size planner, although the fit may vary depending on the particular dimensions of the calendar squares.
These handy translucent sticky notes let you add comments or highlights without having to write directly on the pages. They are made from a sturdy, tear-resistant plastic, and the back sides of the notes are coated with a particularly sticky adhesive so they will stay securely stuck to to the page. They are available in various sizes to suit different needs. Use the larger ones for writing more detailed comments and the smaller ones for adding a short note or highlight.
Due to their filmy surface, ballpoint pens, pencils, and permanent markers are best for writing on these. Water-based inks may not write as well.
These stylish sticky notes are perfect for keeping your planner organized! They feature a monthly calendar design with a blank heading, so you can fill in your habits and track them across each month. Adhesive covers more than half of the notes’ backs, so they stick securely to the page—yet they unpeel and re-stick easily so you can rearrange your plans. The backing sheet also doubles as a handy bookmark when folded over the page.
Campus is a standard notebook in Japan. This series have many different variations; some of the Campus notebook have dots on every rule lines, which makes it easier to draw figures or tables. The silky-smooth paper in this notebook is subtly printed with a unique layout: a dot grid with horizontal lines running through the dots. With this paper, it is suddenly easier to write organized evenly-spaced notes and to neatly align all those triangles and cubes on your geometry homework. The paper was developed by observing the note-taking habits of students from Tokyo Daigaku (Tokyo University, or Todai), one of Japan’s top universities. As a result, it caters to students’ specific needs. Students, scientists, and anyone else who needs help corralling their notes into organized text and diagrams will find this notebook delightful.
The specialty of this notebook is its paper. It is advertised as the ‘gentleman’s notebook’ and the paper used is like ‘silk’! Premium C.D. notebook is designed to pursue comfortable writing. It’s a little costly, but it’s definitely worthwhile. From its silky-smooth paper to its richly detailed covers, this Apica Premium C.D. notebook exudes a superb sense of quality and sophistication. You might even hesitate to write in it, but that would be a shame. Once you experience the effortless glide of your favorite rollerball or fountain pen across its pages and the beautiful way the pages hold and show off the ink, you’ll be looking for excuses to keep writing.
In addition to filling the notebook with its luxurious “A.Silky 865 Premium” paper, Apica obsessively fine-tuned every aspect of it to satisfy the pickiest of notebook users. Designed for discerning users who seek sophistication, the notebook has a subtly shimmering thick paper cover beautifully printed with scroll patterns and silver embossed name. Thread binding provides an additional classic touch and allows the notebook to lay flat when open. Accent threads, which can be glimpsed inside the notebook, match the cover color.
NOViTA is an excellent file for arranging documents, since its spine can be shortened and extended to match your usage. It also has a rich variation of color and size. Life is more fun when you’re organized! Kokuyo’s innovative Novita Alpha series is an amazing filing system that lets you create your own file book that is customized to your needs. The Clear Books are the book covers, and the holders (called “Files”) hold your documents. Mix and match the Clear Books with the holder types you want to use! Simply slide the holders into the grooves in the Clear Book spine, and they stay put securely. The holders are very easy to insert and remove, and you can insert as many or as few as you want. They come in a variety of formats and the Pocket Files come in a rainbow of colors. This helps you organize your files and makes them easy to find.
Because it’s so easy to add and remove the holders, you can just take the documents you need to your meetings and classes, instead of carrying around all your documents all the time. Using different-colored holders for different projects or discussion topics makes this even easier. Use them for your personal files or meeting notes, or insert meeting presentation materials and distribute them to meeting participants. At home, sort your receipts or other files by month or type. For school, divide your notes by subject!
Each Clear Book has flexible yet thick and sturdy translucent covers that protect your documents. To label your book, you can pull out the included spine label and insert your own if desired. The book is slim if you have not filled it much, but also expands to accommodate many documents. You can insert up to six holders, and each Clear Book already comes with two Clear 12-pocket Pocket Files (24 total pockets).
The holders are ultra-thin with a thin spine. Most have multiple pockets, which is great for organizing. Each holder is very flexible and therefore easy to carry around, but the protective covers are durable enough to protect your files even when the holder is carried outside of a Clear Book.
After you collect these pieces of stationery, you need something which to put them into. This is the last recommendation, a pen case called Neo Critz. It is used not only as a pen case (of course), but also as a pen stand. This cleverly designed pencil case is easy to carry around and transforms into an easy-access pen stand on your desk! Use it for pens, art supplies, or even as a travel pouch. Thanks to the double-zipper design, you can unzip just the top part of the case to quickly access the contents without fully opening the case. This is especially useful when you want to grab pens while the case is still in your bag.
To use the case as a pen stand, unzip it and fold the upper half back. As a stand, the case has a wide triangular footprint that gives it great stability and topple-resistance. A slot in the front of the case is great for holding erasers or clipping on hair pins or paperclips. The slot is not attached at the bottom of the case, however, so very small items can slip underneath it into the main compartment of the case.
This convertible pouch has plenty of carrying room and transforms into a convenient pen stand on your desk! Use it to carry pens, pencils, scissors, cosmetics, or other accessories. Choose from a variety of fun patterns and colors. You can even personalize it with pins and appliques.
Inside, the pouch has a large storage space with two single-pen pockets and one larger pocket on the sides for keeping things organized.
To transform the pouch, set it on your desk, open the zipper, and pull down on the two side tabs. You can view a demonstration video in the photos section. The pouch can also be carried with the top slid down for saving space or holding smaller items.
This Natural style pouch has a solid-colored base section, a natural-colored top section, and a metal zipper.
Give your pens an adorable animal attendant with this innovative telescoping pen case! Based on the ISOT 2016 prize winning Actact Stand Pen Case, it transforms quickly and easily into a pen cup for your desk. Use it for carrying pens, cosmetics, and other accessories up to 6.5″ (16.5 cm) long. An elastic band inside the lid is perfect for holding an eraser. The bottom of the case pops up when you press it down on a desk, lifting the contents and making them easy to pick through. When it’s time to take the case with you, simply pull the bottom out and zip the lid closed. The case is made of soft silicone that’s pleasant to the touch and easy to clean with water.
This book-style pencil case from Lihit Lab features a three-sided zipper opening, and contains an internal sectional divider. The front of the case features two slim pockets for holding thinner or small items. The left side of the opened case features two straps across both the front cover and center divider to hold a multitude of writing instruments. On the right side of the opened case, there are three small mesh pockets on the divider for holding smaller items like erasers and lead packs, and one larger mesh pocket on the back cover to hold larger items. Several different colors available.
Are you looking for a way to sort out your schedule and every day in a fun way? Hobonichi Planner is a journal that allows you to log your daily plans, track goals, and write down any other thoughts you have. Many people also paste cuttings from newspapers and other study materials inside, as the pages are light but high-quality.
The style of these planners is sleek and unique. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles, and there are even covers you can purchase these planners to further customize these journals. Even if you are not used to journaling or writing down your schedule, this planner makes it easy and fun to become more organized.
Behold the sensational Hobonichi Techo, one of Japan’s best-selling daily planners! More than just an agenda, the Hobonichi Techo planner is designed as a blank canvas for documenting the small moments of everyday life. Use it as a diary, scrapbook, photo album, sketchbook, or simply as a place to record your thoughts. The name Techo is the Japanese word for “planner,” derived from the Japanese words for “hand” and “notebook.”
You can purchase Hobonichi products at stationery stores throughout Japan, including LoFt, and also at their official website.
Not just a planner, the Jibun Techo is a customizable 3-in-1 system for chronicling your life from year to year. The name Jibun Techo comes from the Japanese words for “self” and “planner.” It’s meant to be a place for you to record the story of your daily life and—perhaps—discover things about yourself.
The Jibun Techo system consists of three separate booklets: an annual “Diary” booklet for planning out schedules and to-do lists, a “LIFE” booklet for recording more permanent information, and an “IDEA” booklet for jotting down anything else that comes to mind. You can choose to use one, two, or all three booklets.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at you extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links. You can also see my full Disclosure and Terms and Conditions (you know, the real boring stuff).
A Wandering Scribbler is a blog written by Mackenzie Jervis. Mackenzie currently lives in Japan with her husband and two kids. When not writing about her life in Japan, she writes novels and binge-watches British TV.