Written by Hilary Keyes
5 Must Have Stationery Items From Japan's Best Variety Goods Stores
If you head to any of Japan's big variety stores, you're sure to find a wide variety of cool items, especially when it comes to stationery! Here are the latest 5 must-have items!
Fans of stationery or daily life goods know that shopping in Japan for these products can be a marathon sport. There are quite literally thousands of items to choose from, in numerous different color variations, and of course, a great number of shops to get them at as well.
Starting with the stationery and art supply store Itoya, and moving on to variety good stores like Tokyu Hands and LoFt, the discount superstore Don Quijote, and of course at the dedicated mom and pop stores in shotengai shopping streets all across Japan, there are many shopss where you can pick great stationery items for very reasonable prices - many of them costing less than 500 yen!
Here are our top five picks for new, must have stationery items available in shops all across Japan.
1. Highlighters and Pens - Make Studying or Card Writing a Snap!
The right writing utensil can make all the difference, and finding the right one for you may take you a while when shopping in a Japanese stationery store. At the small shop near my station they sell over 20 different types of pens, and in major stores, you can expect to find anywhere from 50-200 varieties, both from within Japan and around the world.
FriXion Ball Pens by Pilot have been a huge hit in Japan for a few years now, and they just keep adding more and more useful products to their line-up. A must have for anyone studying any subject, these erasable highlighters are ideal for when you go over a line, or find that you've highlighted too much. Their newest series of highlighters come in these gentle pastel colors, which are easier on the eyes than neon, but still can highlight very effectively.
Average retail price: 108 yen (with tax)
Lettering is such a popular hobby now, around the world and in Japan, and finding pens that can help you write both colorfully and elegantly can take a bit of work. Kuretake, an over 100-year Japanese stationery company that first produced sumi ink and brushes for calligraphy, also makes the Zig Wink of Luna Brushes.
These filled brush pens combine a calligraphy brush-like tip with a fountain pen-like ink cartridge and come in several different shades of ink, including metallic shades of red and purple. Best of all, the inks are safe to use on photographs and are archival quality, so you don't have to worry about them fading or affecting the surface they're used on over time.
Average retail price: 450 yen (with tax)
2. Rolling Stamps - Gift Giving Made Easy
If you've got a small gift for someone, but want to add a more personal touch to the card or letter that goes with it, then why not try adding your own stamp? A separate stamp and ink set is, of course, one option, or you can pick up a rolling stamp instead!
The Irodori Decorne is a pre-inked rolling stamp that comes in five different variations, some featuring perfume bottles, cute alpacas saying 'for you', clovers, and more. All you do is place the stamp on the surface you want, press down lightly and roll it. That's it!
Average retail price: 650 yen (with tax)
3. Wrapping Presents or Scrap-booking - Delightfully Designed Tapes
Whether you are wrapping presents, making a scrapbook, decorating a phone case, or are just looking for something to make your picture frames and cards really memorable, washi tape (a type of patterned masking tape) has been popular in Japan for a number of years, and has made its way overseas as well in specialty craft stores.
Recently, there have been two new types on the market, however, which have their own unique applications.
Zitte Kirari is a patterned washi tape with a special peel away section in the middle, making it perfect for sealing envelopes or parcels that will soon be opened. The center panel of the tape has a message printed on it that can be easily pulled away, leaving a neatly patterned tape border behind, with no sticky residue to worry about. They come in six different patterns and colors, ranging from floral to seasonal designs.
Average retail price: 410 yen (with tax)
Or, if you are looking more for something to decorate with, but don't want a straight band of tape, why not pick up some of this decorative paper? Bande Masking Roll Stickers look like a roll of cut-out washi tape, but you can actually peel off individual designs and use them as stickers as well. These come in five different types at the moment, but according to the shop staff I spoke with, there are going to be some seasonal varieties available soon too.
Average retail price: 432 yen (with tax)
4. Cute Memo Pads - Great for Gifts or in the Office
While many people may rely on their phones for taking notes, sometimes it does feel nice to have a proper notepad to keep by the phone where you can jot down important information, write someone a note, or even make your grocery list. In Japan, you can find notebooks in practically every shape, size and color, and recently, there have been a number of different note pads that look pretty realistic too!
For example, this Pen and Deli notepad really looks like a strawberry donut, doesn't it? The paper is a bit thick too, which makes it sturdy and easy to write on as well.
Average retail price: 800 yen (with tax)
5. Notes on the Go - Travel Memo Pads
If you're on the go and need to write something down in a hurry, you may be tempted to do so on an old receipt or whatever else you happen to find in your bag, but what happens if you accidentally throw it away? With a mini memo pad, you don't have to worry about that happening.
The Accordion Memo by +Lab is a small note book with a solid cover and elastic band to keep it closed, but the best part is that the pages are all connected accordion style, and can easily be torn off from one another along the perforated edge. Plus, the pages are printed with simple designs too, so if you need to make an impromptu card for someone, you're covered.
Average retail price: 450 yen (with tax)
With these and so many other great stationery options to choose from, you're sure to have fun looking around in any of Japan's top variety goods stores and stationery shops. Who knows, you might just even find something that starts you on a new hobby while you browse through their selection too!