Or: How I went overboard.
I haven’t been to Japan in a few years, and this time (February 2020) I was on a mission: hardcore stationery shopping. Not only do I adore cute stationery, but I’ve recently picked up a fountain pen addiction, so this seemed the ideal opportunity to feed the beast.
Aeon Mall, Kyoto
Stationery TAG make their own range of inks, and I was eager to pick up a couple. This particular store was a concession inside the Ogaki Bookstore in Aeon Mall, just next to Kyoto train station, so it was easy to find. They only had one of the two colours I’d been hoping to find, Stone Road of Gion, so I grabbed it.
Kyoto & Tokyo
My first stop was accidental. I’d intended to save Tokyu Hands for Tokyo, but I passed the one in Kyoto and decided to head in. Pilot halved the price of iroshizuku inks in Japan to 1,500円, so I snapped a couple up. Then when in Tokyo, I accidentally fell into another Tokyu Hands and grabbed a couple more, including bishamonten and jurojin from their 100th Anniversary line.
The big one! I’ve never been to Itoya before – I’ve previously ignored Ginza for whatever reason – and this time around I was determined!
The selection of fountain pens was out of this world, including some breathtaking one of a kind handmade pieces, and the staff were extremely helpful and patient, letting customers try out as many pens as they liked with absolutely no obligation to purchase.
The ink selection was a bit less exciting, but still reasonably comprehensive.
In the end, I picked up a Sailor Promenade red and a Platinum 3776 red with rhodium trim. They also had the Pilot Iroshizuku Tokyo Limited Edition inks, so I grabbed edo-murasaki and shimbashi-iro, as well as a couple of non-LE colours.
Kingdom Note had all the inks Itoya seemed to be missing! What an absolute pleasure of a shop, hidden away near the Shinjuku train station’s West exit. They have three whole swatch books for you to sift through – all contain the same swatches, but organised in three different ways so that you can search by colour, brand, or name. They were naturally out of every purple I wanted, but I picked up two of their exclusive Sailor collaborations: Kabukicho Neon and Yokocho Red. They even came with an adorable little map which matched up the five ink colours with the areas they represented.
The irony is that Bungubox is the shop I had been most eager to visit, and was actually the least exciting. They didn’t have a whole lot of exclusives during my trip, but I did pick up two of their Sailor Zodiac exclusive inks: Scorpio and Sagittarius. The staff were absolutely wonderful, though.
I think for future reference, it’s important to note that it takes them 2-3 months to make their maki-e TWSBI eco exclusives, so it’s worth checking that far ahead to order one, then ask them to hold it until the actual visit.
Kyoto & Tokyo
Deep down, I am an absolute child, and I adore the easy-tear character notebooks that you can get at Yodobashi. Initially I rampaged through the stationery section at Yodobashi Kyoto, but then I also managed to go on a similar rampage at Yodobashi Akihabara. You do have to survive the god-awful constant noise levels of the ground floors to get to them, though.
I managed to stuff my bags with adorable Sumikko Gurashi and Corocoro Coronya notebooks.
Itoya Ginza has two entire buildings, and the majority of their notepads are in K. Itoya, behind the main G. Itoya store. I picked up a pair of Tomoe River FP notebooks, a pair of Zequenz Classic 360 journals in purple, and a pair of Apica CD Notebooks.
Kyoto & Tokyo
I’ve also never been in a Daiso before. I know, I know, how I avoided it is a mystery, but there was a vast one in the Aeon Mall in Kyoto, so I dived on in and grabbed mountains of washi tape (4-packs regular, and 8-packs slim, 100円 per pack, yes please) and cute kitty stickers, as well as little jotter pads and to-do lists and post-it notes and… uh… Far too much stuff, basically.
And then I fell into the even bigger Daiso in Harajuku and bought more of the same (as well as socks for chair legs, and kitty paw shaped cable ties, and and and).
Kyoto & Tokyo
So, look, this isn’t my fault. But Tokyu Hands had a huge amount of washi tape and I bought a lot of it, but they also do stickers and they had corgi stickers and how exactly was I supposed to resist?
Anyway, the Kyoto location only had one sheet of corgi stickers, so obviously I had to check every branch in Tokyo I passed, too, and that’s how I now own eight sheets of corgi stickers.
Itoya’s collection of stickers and washi tapes were more traditional, and rather scattered across a whole floor, but I did manage to find a couple of gorgeous washi tapes, as well as some beautiful paper sakura-patterned brush or pen holders.
Almost everywhere you go likely has something exclusive. I picked up region-specific washi tapes from Koyasan, Nishi (Tama the Station Master Cat washi tape!), Nagoya, Tokuhu, and Takaosan.
I had a great time, but I was also struggling with having damaged my left ankle on my second night in Japan, and a plantar fasciitis flare-up in my right foot. Walking was severely painful, and I ran out of energy quickly.
I would love to go back to Itoya and get some more notebooks. I’d also like to visit some of the shops I missed this time around – particularly Maruzen and Takashimaya in Nihonbashi. I also missed KiddyLand due to exhaustion, and they’re usually great for super cute stationery.
Perhaps next trip I could be persuaded to give LoFT another try, although every time I do, I regret not going to Tokyu Hands instead.
Really, though, I think I managed to buy enough to last a lifetime. I can do without more… Right?
Yeah, I don’t believe me either…