The residents of Tokyo are very fond and proud of their stationery products. As a result, ordinary and unusual stationery items can be purchased at a wide array of venues throughout the city. During my recent trip to Tokyo, I purchased a handful of wonderful stationery and high quality drafting products. I found these items at select paper boutiques, corner mom and pop markets, train station kiosks, museum gift shops and large department stores. These shops carry beautifully crafted and unique stationery items made not only in Japan but also from around the world.
The photos below show items I purchased. These stationery items make perfect gifts for anyone in the design field, or for that matter, for any one who appreciates a unique quality product. In their own way, all of these items have managed to intertwine great style with function, the hallmark of any well-manufactured good. Let me go over the items and describe their unique features.
Staedtler Colour Pencils -
Since it's founding in 1835, the Staedtler company has been synonymous with innovation. The "Made in Germany" stamp on all of their products has come to be recognized as a symbol for quality. Johan Sebastian Staedtler invented a coloured oil pencil that could be sharpened to a point just like a regular pencil, making it one of the first coloured pencils ever. The soft, richly colored lead of these colour pencils provide exceptional results. I used them as soon as I returned to the hotel room to color a concept plan and was impressed with their intense, vivid colors. In addition, these color pencils are environmentally friendly. They are made from a certified sustainably managed forest.
This 12 set pack was found at a kiosk at the Tokyo Station. I was pleasantly surprised to find such a high quality item at a small kiosk located at an underground railway station. This only served to remind me that in Japan, quality is always foremost and nothing less can do.
Radar Classic Eraser -
This standby classic recently celebrated it's 100 year anniversary. Established in Osaka in 1915, the Miki Yasushi-saku rubber manufacturing corporation was one of the first companies to produce Japanese erasers. The Radar Eraser is a high-performance and top quality plastic eraser. It erases smoothly and thoroughly with a light touch. Due to it's soft quality, the shavings form clumps rather than a messy dust. You will appreciate this simply, well designed eraser every time you hold it in your hand. I found this eraser at a small, mom-and-pop corner market in a residential neighborhood.
Limited Edition Pentel Orenz Mannish Mechanical Pencil -
This mechanical pencil is made by the Japanese company Pentel Co., Ltd. founded in 1946. The name is a combination of the English words"pen and tell". This limited edition tool is a super fine mechanical pencil in charming color combinations. The soft sophisticated color palette caught my eye while perusing a Tokyo bookstore. They come in 0.2 and 0.3 sizes and give you a stronger lead point than you would expect from a mechanical pencil. I chose the 0.2 light blue/ivory pencil with eye glasses stamped on the body and the 0.3 pale yellow/grey pencil with a bowler hat stamped on it. Two other color combinations are available: brown/pink and green/white. The Pentel Ain Stein refill leads are the perfect companion. Should you purchase a Pentel Orenz mechanical pencil, be sure to check out their web site for instructions on how to use and properly care for the tool.
As a side note, when in Tokyo be sure to visit Tsutaya Books located in the up-scale Daikanyama shopping district. The book store combines three low-slung pavilions providing a smooth transition between interior and landscaped gardens. This "library in a forest" design concept was created by Tokyo based British architects Klein Dytham Architects. This is, hands down, the best book store I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Kum 1928 Globe Pencil Sharpener
This is the original (though much copied) tin toy globe with pencil sharpener at the base. As an owner of several vintage globes and a seasoned traveler, this pencil sharpener spoke to me. The German company, Kum, has been manufacturing the sharpener since 1928. It not only features a highly detailed globe but also leaves you with a extremely sharp pencil. The pencil shavings are contained in the globe and the base unscrews for easy cleaning. I found this pencil sharpener in the stationery section of a department store.
Speaking of globes, I did find a vintage Japanese globe in an antique shop in Nikko, Japan. Luckily I was able to disassemble it so that it would fit in my suit case. It now sits proudly on top of my dresser.
Macaroon inspired Notebooks -
This set of notebooks is as delicious to look as they are practical. One cannot beat this combination - great style and functionality. Bright colors, inspired by macaroons, make up this series of notebooks. The six colors reflect the dessert flavors. Pink - Raspberry, Brown-Chocolate, Purple-Cassis, Yellow-Passion Fruit, Blue-Salt and Green-Pistachio. The notebook's 56 pages are a lighter shade of color than the cover. This is in keeping with the lighter shade of the inside of an actual macaroon. The cover also features a gold embossed title in the shape of a macaroon. In typical Japanese style, every detail has been carefully designed. A high-end department store offered the complete set.
Designed for Arrangement Pencil Holder -
The bright red logo is understated and attractive. The company has been around since 1938 and is based in Osaka, Japan. I was drawn to the olive-brown two zippered pocket model and now keep only my best pencils/pens in it. Many stores in Tokyo carry the "Designed for Arrangement" product line.
Japan's sense of excellence lies in its attention to every detail. Just as the culture of Japan is detailed, elaborate and based upon tradition...so are their products. No matter the purpose of the product, how small the size or how easily unnoticed it may be to the consumer, every minute detail is given extreme thought and attention.
Diseñador de Jardín,