Showing posts with label Tokyo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tokyo. Show all posts

19 November 2020

TIPS 2020

The third edition of the Tokyo International Pen Show –TIPS 2020— was celebrated on the weekend of November 6th to 8th. This alone, in these times of virus and infections, is just remarkable. Now, how was it?


Basic prophylaxis set the limits and conditions of such a potential massive event –remember that in 2019 there were about 2000 visitors. This year's event was organized in two-hour slots –seven of them— with 100 people in each of them. And that set a limit of 700 attendees. In contrast, the number of tables was barely smaller: 60 vs. 70 in 2019.

So, there were the boundary conditions on which those 700 visitors went in search of pens... or other objects. What we found was not any different to what we had seen in 2019—a stationery salon.



By that I mean a space where shops and makers show and present their new products as opposed to a place where collectors search for that rarity, and where there is some actual trading. So, the bulk of the pen show was dedicated to new products—pens, inks, paper, accessories; and only a handful of tables displayed vintage and second hand pens. Of them, only one –shared by two well-known traders— had those pens as its basic argument.

New stuff.

Vintage stuff.

One interesting element on this event is that it acts as an exhibit of a number of small pen makers whose products are not distributed through the usual distribution channels and are not present at the traditional stationers in town. Such is the case of Ohashido, StyloArt Karuizawa, Eboya, Takayuki, Matsuda Maki-e, Laurett's, Chriselle, Tetzbo, Hirai Woodturner...

Some of those small makers with very limited distribution.

I have said in the past that the East-Asia concept of a pen show is different from those in the West, but it is a successful idea. And giving the harsh times we are facing, it is excellent news TIPS 2020 came to exist.


Super Gold Line JIS 3232 — Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
November 19th 2020
etiquetas: Tokyo, evento

26 February 2020

Cancellation and Virus

The planned Japan Premium Pen Show (JPPS) has been canceled by the organizers.

This was a project initiated by the organizers of the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS). It was planned for the first weekend of May (in coincidence with the Chicago Pen Show), and aimed at the “discerning collector” avid to find “high-end fountain pen brands”.

The nominal excuse for the cancellation is the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19). This has become a common argument these days—a deus ex machina under which to hide likely failures and disappointments. And that regardless the actual danger of the situation, or how premature the call might be.


Extract of the message sent by the organizers announcing the cancellation of JPPS 2020 and promising the organization of a similar event in 2021.

The rumor goes that the organizers of the JPPS were having a hard time finding traders to fill the 40 tables allocated at the luxurious hotel Chinzanso. In fact, there was a healthy doses of skepticism among aficionados  about the interest if a pen show based on new pens and on well-known retailers. Who would pay JPY 3000 (about EUR 25) to check on pens otherwise available at shops with no entry fee? Who would come to Tokyo instead of to Chicago given the option?

In any event, those potential problems are no more. However, the organizers are promising to try again in 2021. Hopefully with much better sense and knowledge about the pen world.


Iwase Seisakusho N-model prototype – Noodler's Beaver

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 25th 2020
etiquetas: eventos, Tokyo, Japón

31 January 2020

Premium Pen Show in Tokyo

The organizers of the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) have announced the celebration of another event, the Japanese Premium Pen Show, this coming month of May. This “premium” pen show will take place at the luxury hotel Chinzanso in Bunkyo Ward between May 1st and May 3rd.


Good for the pen community in Tokyo? These are my reflections:

First, it is surprising how quickly –in Japanese standards-- this event is being organized. In a country where improvisation is almost a taboo, announcing this even with less that six months is surprising. But so be it!

Second is the inability of Tokyo actors in the pen scene to create a single important and relevant pen event with an international significance. Instead, all we get is a multiplicity of small events scattered along the calendar.

Let us remember here that the TIPS events (::1::, ::2::) fall short of real pen shows, as the organizers implicitly acknowledge when they declare that “the (Japanese Premium Pen) show will focus on high-end fountain pen brands from around the world for the discerning collector.”


Tokyo International Pen Show 2019. Not a pen show but a stationery salon.

This event, however, could change the parochial scene in Tokyo should it become a resounding success in attracting foreign traders. But that doesn't seem to be the case so far: it is being quickly organized, and Japan is not particularly close to where most traders live and circulate in the world tour of pen shows.


Madrid Pen Show 2019. There are more pens on this table that on the whole of TIPS 2019.

The pricing policy for traders doesn't seem very adequate for that purpose. The cost per table is in the order of USD 700 (in fact, JPY 70000 if booking before Jan 31st; JPY 90000, booking after that date). In comparison, the well-established Madrid Pen Show (16 years of history, a three-day event) charges about USD 300. And the newly created Dutch Pen Show in Utrecht, just USD 80.

But we will see how it works in about four months. I will be there.


Yamada raden – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 30th 2020
etiquetas: Japón, Tokyo, evento, mercado

08 October 2019

TIPS 2019. Again a Stationery Fair

This past weekend, the second edition of the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) took place in the Ward of Taito in Tokyo. I attended it and these are my reflections.

The plain figures are very clear and straight-forward: about 2000 visitors, 1200 on the first day; about 200 foreigners; 86 tables with 71 traders. This means a big success and a significant improvement over the results of 2018: 1600 visitors and 50 traders.


People and inks. Are those the argument of TIPS?

My criticism this year is, in essence, the same as on 2018——this event was not a pen show, this was a stationery salon (like some others in Tokyo: Bungujoshi, Kamihaku, and Inkunuma (::1::, ::2::)) where you could find some fountain pens. Vintage pens, on their side, were limited to four or five tables——Wagner group, Seoul Pen Show, Andre Mora, Stylus Aurea, and Pen Land/Komehyo. And not even the parallel Wagner meeting on Sunday at a different venue, could correct this deficiency.


The table of the Seoul Pen Show with some vintage pens.

However, this didn't mean that there were no fountain pens. Many of the traders were well established stationers from all over Japan who have their own special pen models and inks, mostly made by Sailor. This was the case of BunguBox, Kingdom Note, Nagasawa, Ei-Publishing Co. (Shumi-no Bungubako)… And in fact there is a demand for all those somehow different pens—if only because of their colorful decoration.

This prevalent presence of Sailor –even if indirect-- made Leigh Reyes say that this was the pen show of Sailor. The presence of the other two big companies was marginal.


Sailor inks, Sailor pens. Kingdom Note.

The international presence was more important this year: Franklin-Christoph, Schon, Yaching Style, Armando Simoni Club, Andre Mora, Stylus Aurea, Aesthetic Bay... But they accounted to just about 10% of the traders.


Aesthetic Bay, from Singapore.


Franklin-Christoph, from USA.

All in all, the most interesting aspect of the show was, as is often the case, the community of users. On this edition, and much to my surprise, the number of visitors coming from overseas was particularly big. Organizers speak of 10% of the attendees being foreigners. That means about 200 people. I don't know how they came with this number, but I am afraid they considered any long term resident in Japan as foreign visitor. Anyway, this edition attracted visitors from Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, United States, Canada, France, Italy, Spain... This fact is indeed remarkable and contributed to provide a cosmopolitan air to an otherwise very parochial show.


An active and enthusiastic group of foreign visitors.

TIPS is not a pen show, and TIPS is barely international. But 2000 visitors move a lot of money and are a powerful argument not to change the business model.

At the end, the stationery market is a lot more important and lucrative than that of fountain pens.


Paper, paper, paper...


NOTE 1: For a more positive view of the TIPS 2019 I recommend the accounts of Fudefan: https://www.fudefan.com/2019/10/tips-2019/
And for an excellent video overview, check Inky.Rocks' video: https://youtu.be/9iyXeihsiYQ

NOTE 2: TIPS 2020 will take place on November 7th and 8th in Hamamatsucho area in Tokyo.


My thanks a Inktraveler for several of the pictures here included.


Parker 51 Demi 1948 – Kobe Nagasawa Bokko

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 8th 2019
etiquetas: mercado, evento, Sailor, Tokyo, papelería

30 September 2019

Cheap Tools

When the service is free you are the product. Or a tool in the hands of others.

The Pelikan Hub, 2019 edition, is over and it is time to think what that event is and what it means.

I am not particularly interested on Pelikan and on the endless rehash of models this company practices nowadays. I also tend to look at these promotional events from a healthy distance. But on this occasion the local pen community made it more appealing. And last week I attended my first Pelikan Hub. That was in Tokyo.

So, what are these events?


In May each year since 2014, Pelikan open a call to pen aficionados for them to meet on a day in September. Then, Pelikan chooses a hub master –the organizer of each event in every city--, prints some promotional material like leaflets and banners, provides some inkwells and... Well, that is all.


The rest is up to the local hub master and to the attendees. In Tokyo, we paid to rent the space. And at the event, we received the promotional material, which includes an inkwell (Star Ruby this year), and spoke about pens –not only Pelikan--, and about inks. And at the same time we mention the meeting on social media and other means of online communication.


So, we become the tools of advertisement for Pelikan. And almost for free—what is the actual cost of the whole operation for Pelikan? How much is that cost per person attending the hubs? How mush does an inkwell cost to Pelikan?


Some Pelikan, and some non-Pelikan pens. But the main character is Bokumondoh...

We attendees became tools, very inexpensive tools. And we even pay to meet! In the old Spanish expression, “encima de burros, apaleados”.

The good part? Meeting other pen aficionados. But we do not need Pelikan to do so.


Pilot Vpen – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Kunitachi, September 27th 2019
etiquetas: redes sociales, Pelikan, Tokyo

28 July 2019

Bring Pilot's Pen Station Back

Pilot's Pen Station was the museum of pens Pilot had at its headquarters in Tokyo, not far from Ginza. The museum open in October of 2002, substituting an older and smaller exhibit, and closed down on March 31st of 2016 (::1::, ::2::), when the company closed the building to demolish and reconstruct the headquarters at the same site.


The old building...


... and some of its contents.

Three years later the new building was completed and becoming operative. Now the site is shared with a hotel of the Hankyu company and some restaurants.


The new building, now shared with a Hankyu hotel.

However, Pilot has no plans to reopen the old museum. Some of the items on display were moved to the production plant in Hiratsuka, where the company had already created a small museum on maki-e pens. But the available space is limited and the old gunpowder building can hardly host a larger museum space. Hiratsuka, at the same time, is over one hour away from Tokyo.


The gunpowder building at the Hiratsuka plant of Pilot's.

In view of all this, and missing that lovely museum so much, I have decided to campaign for Pilot to reopen it somewhere in Tokyo. And I invite all of you to show your interest and support.


Let's fill up this label: #pilotpenstation!

On Instagram, where I go as @brunotaut_fp, I am using the label #pilotpenstation to group together all the related posts. And some of you, active as you are on other social media, could start similar labels and actions on those.

And, who know, Pilot might listen to us!


Pilot Super Ultra 500 – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 27th 2019
etiquetas: redes sociales, Pilot, Tokyo, Japón

21 July 2019

Updates to the Tokyo Pen Shop List

I have just updated the page Tokyo Pen Shops. This was long overdue after two years since the last time I revised it. Fortunately, the Google Map service that allow for the map is a lot easier to edit now.

The main changes are the inclusion of some shops to the list:

Tsutaya at Ginza Six. This shop offers a regular selection of pens, plus a handful of unique models made in collaboration with Wajimaya Zen-ni. Re inks, this shop also offers a small selection of original colors on top of a solid supply of the regular brands.

TAG – Takeda Jimuki in Gotanda. TAG is a chain of stationery shops owned by the company Takeda Jimuki. The Gotanda branch seems to be the biggest in Tokyo. Its main appeal are the TAG inks. Although these are also available at other shops (Itoya, Angers, Okamotoya,...), prices here are slightly better.


Takeda Jimuki inks at TAG.

Okamotoya in Toranomon. This is an old office supply shop newly restored as a modern stationer with a very Japanese flavor. It displays a regular selection of pens and an interesting gamut of inks, including TAG and the Korean brand Tono & Lims.


Okamotoya in Toranomon.

Eboya in Arakawa. This is the shop of Nikko Ebonite to sell Eboya pens. This is the only stable place where to purchase this brand. The alternatives are regular sale events –usually at department stores in Japan-- or a through a handful of online shops.


Eboya shop in Arakawa.

I have also updated information on other shops: Kingdom Note (Map Camera) changed the location of the pen section. Kinpendo created a website.

On the negative side, some shops went under –Daiya Sutoa in Ameyoko--, or moved out of town –Füllhalter is now in Abiko, Chiba. I also removed all references to Pen Station, the deeply missed museum of Pilot in Kyobashi, Tokyo.

The list, as usual, is far from complete. Feel free to email me with more information.


Pelikan M400 Rilke – Sailor Yama-dori

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 19th 2019
etiquetas: mercado, Tokyo

13 May 2019

Tokyo Pen Scene in 2019

The 19th edition of the Pen Trading event in Tokyo was celebrated on the weekend of May 4th at the KFC building in the district of Sumida. And for the first time, this event lasted three days.

But all in all the figures of the show have not changed much along recent years—about 20 to 25 traders, and 200 visitors. And these numbers hardly justify such a long duration.


The first day, Friday 3rd, had Platinum as protagonist—Mr. Masa Sunami gave a lecture on the history of the brand, and the president –Mr. Nakata— answered some questions previously submitted by the attendees. However, the answers were to be kept strictly intramural, and any leak through social media was prohibited. Trading started at 12:30, albeit restricted to non-gold nib pens and assorted goods.

Saturday and Sunday were more of a traditional pen show –no restrictions of the type of pens to be on offer--, and were combined with a number of workshops.




Pen Trading in Tokyo, 19th edition.

Along this past year there has been a wealth of activities in the fountain pen world in Tokyo. The Wagner group has extended its events in order to attract younger aficionados, for instance. In October, the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) worked well as a meeting point for aficionados previously disconnected, thus enlarging the pen community.

All this should imply that the trading events like that of Spring should become more important in the basic figures, but that was not the case ten days ago. The second edition of TIPS, to be celebrated in October 5th and 6th, looks like the best chance for the local activity to become something more according to the relevance of Japan in the international market.

And the only way to do so is to become more international.


So, next stop, the second edition of the Tokyo International Pen Show in October 5th and 6th. Hope to see you there.


Iwase Seisakusho prototype – Wagner 2008 ink

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, May 9th 2019
etiquetas: Tokyo, Japón, evento, mercado

12 March 2019

150 Years of Maruzen

Maruzen, the historical stationer of Tokyo, opens the Spring pen season in this city with the Maruzen World Fountain Pen in early March. This year this event celebrates its 10th edition, at the time of the 150th anniversary of Maruzen company. For the occasion, a limited edition pen hit the market together with some other commemorative stationeries.

Maruzen is largely responsible for the introduction of the fountain pen in Japan. Maruzen did so by importing this novelty writing tool from Britain and the US in the beginning of the twentieth century. Maruzen soon started selling some of those same pens –mostly Onoto and Waterman-- under its own brands like Zenith, Albion and Orion.

It took a bit longer for Maruzen to manufacture its own pens. The domestic production relied on the works of Sakasai Eisaburô, who by 1925 was working exclusively for Maruzen.

The Athena Renaissance 85 corresponds to this period. It was initially marketed in 1934. This is a lever filler made of ebonite with a 14 K gold nib.


Athena Renaissance 85, from 1934. A Sakasai Eisaburô manufacture.

Sakasai passed away in 1937 and Maruzen took over his factory to continue with the production of its own pens.

The factory, located in Shinagawa (Tokyo) was destroyed during the war, and a new plant in Katsushika (Tokyo) was built. Here, new pens showed up in the market in the early 1950s. Such is the case of the second pen—an urushi coated ebonite pen with a lever filler and a 14 K gold nib. It carries the JIS engraving issued by the Ministry of Industry in 1952-53 on fountain pens.


Another lever filler--a post war pen from around 1955.

A third example is the pen in the “Ultra” fashion initiated by the Pilot Super Ultra of 1959 (::1::, ::2::, ::3::). On this case, the pen was released in 1964. It is an aerometric filler, with a 14 K gold nib and a generous decoration on the section, where the brand “ATHENA” is imprinted.


An Athena pen from 1964. Its original price was JPY 2500.

The in-house production of pens ended in the 1970s, and for some time the brand Athena was limited to the Maruzen inks.


Athena ink by mid 1960s. Athena Ace.

Maruzen's fountain pens resurfaced in 1994 through a collaboration with Pilot. Since then, Athena pens are Pilot pens in disguise, often implementing size #10 nibs. The Athena Basic Line (ca 2003) follows that idea.


The Athena Basic Line, from around 2004. It has an obvious similarity with the Pilot Custom Heritage 912, from 2009, with which the Basic Line shares the nib.

The 150th anniversary Athena pen has a shape that is very dear to Maruzen. This is the “Onoto type” (albeit in the quite personal Maruzen style)—a very cylindrical pen with a thinner barrel end where to post the cap. This pen also implements a size #10 Pilot nib, and the well-known converter CON-70. This edition is limited to 500 units, and its price is JPY 45000, plus taxes.


The "Athena the Pen" made for the 150th anniversary of Maruzen. Its retro packaging is particularly attractive. Photo courtesy of FudeFan. On his blog you can find a more detailed description of this pen.

So, after 150 years, Maruzen seems alive and well, and its main shop in Nihonbashi is one of the basic references for stylophiles in Tokyo. Should Maruzen make its own pens, the situation would be even better, but that might be asking too much.


My thanks to FudeFan.


Iwase Seisakusho, prototype with Henckel nib – Takeda Jimuki Hisoku

Bruno Taut
Chiyoda, March 11th, 2019
etiquetas: Maruzen, Pilot, Japón, Tokyo, papelería