Translated by Hilary Keyes
Writer, translator, designer, weirdo.
The “VISIT JAPAN CAMPAIGN” holds a yearly contest to find the best of the best among Japanese souvenirs, and IWAKO erasers have taken the crown both in 2008 and again in 2012.
An indispensable writing tool known by all: the eraser.
While any old eraser may remove marks made by a pencil mechanical or otherwise, the ones by IWAKO offer all that and more. Writing time becomes playtime! Let’s take a look.
The word ‘eraser’ generally brings to mind a slab of white rubber from school days gone by. However, at IWAKO Co. Ltd, the term evokes images of toys, as they produce one colorful, unusual creation after another. Each eraser’s various parts can be disassembled for greater entertainment value, but rest assured that they also do what their namesake suggests – erase!
Part of the manufacturing appeal of these stationery marvels is that the materials are completely Japan-made. Both safe and environmentally friendly, parents can give these eraser-toys to their little ones without worry. They’re also very practical, as alongside their adorable appearance, they also erase incredibly well.
Designs cover a wide variety of subjects, including everything from sweets to vegetables, sushi and even characters like animals and dinosaurs.
* The pricing for each is simple: 54 yen (tax included) for one, or a variety pack of several pieces for 378 yen (tax included).
Featured in the photo are animal erasers, and this is only a small portion of what’s out there. There are also marine animals, insects and even puppies to suit every kind of animal lover.
Those who want to get in touch with their fierce side will love these dinosaur erasers. They’re such high quality that you would never know they were stationery!
Here we have sweets erasers, guaranteed to make your tummy rumble the moment you lay eyes on them. They go beyond simple stationery – each one is a miniature work of art.
Next up, let’s take a look at some items worth grabbing on your next trip to Japan!
Send luck your way with beckoning cat erasers. As demonstrated by the photo, color variations include red, white and black as well as purple, light blue and yellow. Expressions vary from the wide-eyed kitty to the sweetly smiling, too.
These delicious-looking sushi erasers will make you want to break out the soy sauce. The shari (*1) and neta (*2) can be pulled apart, so feel free to play around and create some sushi of your own! These are sold as part of a set atop a sushi geta (*3).
*1 Shari: the rice part of the sushi, generally called this by sushi restaurants.
*2 Neta: the filling or topping of the sushi.
*3 Sushi geta: a wooden platter on which sushi is served.
So, how are these fun and unique erasers made, anyway? Let’s take a look at the manufacturing process.
First of all, a sample model of the final image is created.
For the first step, a mold is formed using wax. It's said that the wax can cost as much as 200,000 yen! After that, each part is prepared using materials like silicon and plaster, and then separated.
Finally, a die of each part is cast from the sample model.
These funky erasers are created from tiny grains of actual rubber. Colors are mixed into the fine grains of rubber, generating a hue that exactly matches the creator’s vision. From animals to food, each model has its own distinctive color. The process is said to be repeated over and over again until that perfect shade is reached.
The grains are then heated to a high enough temperature that they can then be poured into the die, and from there each part comes into being.
So many of them can be made at a single time!
The readied parts are then assembled by hand into fabulously fun erasers! It’s surprisingly moving to see the finished product come to life.
IWAKO puts a huge amount of time and effort into their unique erasers, but unfortunately imitation items made in foreign countries can be found in stores too.
However, as soon as you open the packaging, the difference is as clear as day. From the glossy finish to the undeniable erasing power of each of the disassembled parts, IWAKO brand erasers have proven quality.
IWAKO features Made in Japan quality through these fun, unusual erasers. Why not pick some up as souvenirs when you’re visiting Japan?
IWAKO products are found at various stationery stores around the town. Otherwise, you can buy their produces online at the IWAKO shop. A variety of other items as well as every type of eraser is listed on their homepage.
For those who would like to take a tour of their factory, call to make a reservation at 048-998-5502. Tours are made on a reservation-only basis, and there’s currently a two month waiting list if you call now.
*Factory tours are free of charge.
IWAKO Co., Ltd.
Address: Saitama, Yashio, Oze 184
Credit Cards: Most major
Other Languages: -
Information in Other Languages: English
Nearest Station: Yashio Station (八潮駅), Tsukuba Express
Access: 15 minute walk from South exit of Yashio Station
Price Range: -
Phone Number: 048-995-4099
Website: IWAKO (Japanese), IWAKO shop