Showing posts with label papelería. Show all posts
Showing posts with label papelería. Show all posts

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:
And for an excellent video overview, check Inky.Rocks' video:

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

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

03 October 2018

Tokyo International Pen Show 2018. A Stationery Salon

The first Tokyo International Pen Show (::1::, ::2::) took place this past weekend (September 29th and 30th) in the ward of Taito in Tokyo. And the results were impressive.

The event was celebrated at one of the lounges of the Taito Metropolitan Industrial Center –Taito Kan–: 1400 m2, 60 tables, 50 traders for a total of about 1500 visitors. On the first day –Saturday 29th–, 1100 visitors filled the room, 600 of which arrived within the first hour.

(Photo courtesy of Inktraveler).

The key for this success was, in my opinion, based on two elements: a very eclectic list of traders, and the almost completely absence of vintage pen vendors. The result was a lounge centered on stationeries instead of on pens. In actual terms, there were about half a dozen traders offering used and vintage pens: Pen Land Café (Nagoya), Komehyo (Japan), Mora Stylos (Paris), Erfobay, Hayashi Katsuro,... New pens were displayed by the hand of the creators themselves―Tetzbo, Ohashido, Manu Propria, Eboya, StyloArt Karuizawa, Helico, Taccia, Azonx, Chriselle,... The rest of vendors were focused on dedicated pens (shop-special limited editions), inks, papers and assorted paraphernalia.

These later sectors were responsible for the crowds on the first day. And this public was very young and very female―just the opposite of the usual demographics of pen collectors: male and middle aged.

(Photo courtesy of Inktraveler).

(Photo courtesy of Inktraveler).

In conclusion, the First Tokyo International Pen Show was resounding success, but at the expense of vintage pens and through becoming a stationery fair addressed to the final consumer.

The organizers deserve all the credit of the right decisions to attract 1500 potential buyers. The 2019 edition of the Tokyo International Pen Show will take place on October 5th and 6th of 2019.

Pelikan M800 Kodaishu – Sailor Red Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, October 2nd, 2018
etiquetas: Tokyo, evento, papelería

27 February 2017

Changes in Tokyo. 2017 Edition

More movements in the retailer scene in Tokyo re fountain pens. These changes are now related to two well known shops—Itoya and Bung-Box.

Itoya’s headquarters in Ginza. Somehow, the dream of fountain pen loves is over at Ginza’s Itoya. Previous changes in the main building truly affected the whole concept of the shop, but the fountain pen section had been kept in a wonderful bubble. Most fountain pens were confined to the K.Itoya building in the back alley from the main building on Chuo Dori. And those two floors dedicated to pens and inks were indeed a small paradise for any stylophile. But this arrangement might not have been that profitable…

In the last reform during Fall of 2016, the fountain pen section of Itoya was moved to the main building in the third floor. As a result, pens have lost space and tranquility.

The essential problem of this new arrangement is that the whole main building became a long corridor after the two year refurbishment that ended in 2015. And a corridor is always a passing place.

The consequence of these changes in Itoya is that right now there are more appealing places to have a look at medium and high end pens.

Bung-Box. This is, by now, a well-known shop despite being located in the remote –for a Tokyoite— city of Hamamatsu, in the province of Shizuoka. The big success of the Bung-Box line of inks created some stress on the production of those inks that was solved with a dramatic increase of their price.

On December 17th of 2016, the Hamamatsu shop opened a branch in Tokyo. This is a very small place dedicated to pens and inks, with a special attention to the original products –by Sailor and by Pilot— Bung-Box sells so successfully.

The opening hours and days of this shop in Tokyo seem a bit erratic, and checking its website is strongly recommended before attempting a visit.

Bung-Box original inks, by Sailor. JPY 3240 per inkwell (50 ml).

Its address is
4-8-6 Jingumae
Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0001
Phone: 03-6434-5150

This information has been included on the page on fountain pen shops in Tokyo.

Oaso “Safari” – Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, February 24th 2017
etiquetas: Tokyo, mercado, papelería, Itoya, BunguBox

06 May 2016


On a Japanese rarity:

There are lines, and there are squares in several sizes; there is the Seyès ruling at French schools, the Cornell note-taking scheme in notebooks, the genkõ yõshi ruling for writing in Japanese, and even ruling for left handed people (no affiliation)… And now, the ruling for those who write at an angle. That is, at least what the cover of this notebook says.

The cover of the Tsubame notebook. It is made by Life Stationery Company.

The unusual ruling of this particular notebook. The angle is 55°.

This is a Tsubame notebook, a product of Life Stationery Co., in size B5 (179x250 mm²). The paper, as is customary in Tsubame notebooks, is very well pressed and shows no problems of feathering or bleeding: it is perfectly suited for fountain pens. The paper density, secondary to the paper pressing quality, is 83.5 g/m². The price is JPY 310 (52 pages).

The paper is very good. No feathering...

... and no bleeding. Not even with very wet nibs.

But the distinctive element of this notebook in particular is its ruling. Guiding lines are rotated 55° over the horizontal. The utility? As the cover says, for those who write with crooked lines. This angle, that many consider excessive, is nothing fancy nor was ever carefully considered. It is simply the angle of the diagonal of a B or A type of paper over the horizontal (arctg √2 = 54.7°).

The looks of a written page are... unusual as well.

However, would it not be easier and cheaper to rotate a regular notebook? A regular ruled notebook of this size by Tsubame costs JPY 170 (plus tax).

Ban-ei in black urushi – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 17th, 2016
etiquetas: papelería, Life Stationery

31 March 2016

One Logo, Three Companies (II)

Now that we know about what Mitsubishi and its three-diamond logo meant in terms of companies and activities, we can take a look at a couple of products with some relevance in the world of writing.

The first of them is the paper manufactured by Mitsubishi Paper Mills, of the Mitsubishi keiretsu. This company mostly manufactures hi-tech papers for a variety of applications, which do not seem to include hand-writing. However, Mitsubishi Paper Mills is the maker of the Bank Paper marketed by Life Stationery Co., which is also behind the school notebook Tsubame.

The Life Bank Paper writing pad.

The quality of the Life Bank Paper has already been tested by fellow blogger The Unroyal Warrant, and I have nothing to add to his text. Suffice to say that this paper is fountain-pen friendly, and that it seem to be the only example of such included in the Mitsubishi Paper Mills catalog.

The revealing watermark.

The second product belongs to the company Mitsubishi Pencil Co. The UNI series of lead pencils was launched in 1958. Then, in 1966, the higher quality HI-UNI were marketed. And in 2008, 50 years after the initial UNI series, the gamut of pencil grades reached the amazing number of 22—from 10H to 10B, plus F and HB. In that same year of 2008, a box with all those 22 grades was available. It is called the HI-UNI Art Set.

The HI-UNI Art Set box.

The 22 grades.

On the occasion of the 130th anniversary of Mitsubishi Pencil Co to be celebrated in 2017, a limited number of sets of pencils and notebook have come for sale in this year of 2016. Three are the options: boxes of 12 UNI pencils of grades HB, B ord 2B, plus a notebook (JPY 1080, plus tax); boxes of 12 HI-UNI pencils of grades HB, B or 2B, plus notebook (JPY 1680, plus tax); and a metal box with all 22 grades of HI-UNI pencils plus, of course, the notebook (JPY 3300, plus tax).

One of the anniversary boxes. It is a limited release, but the number of units has not been declared.

The maker of the notebook is not revealed.

Platinum Platinum pocket pen – Aurora Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano March 30th, 2016
etiquetas: Mitsubishi Pencil, Mitsubishi Paper, papelería, Life Stationery

30 March 2016

One Logo, Three Companies (I)

I am not going to speak about fountain pens today but about pencils and paper… and whisky and cars…

The brand Mitsubishi is well known for a number of products and services available in the market. So, we can buy a Mitsubishi Pajero, open an account in the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi-UFJ, drink a Mitsubishi cider, write with a Mitsubishi UNI pencil on a paper with a THREE DIAMOND watermark… and even more without realizing we still were in the Mitsubishi realm: a picture with a Nikon camera, a Kirin whisky,…

Is this a car, a pencil, a bank, a cider...?

Mitsubishi is all that and more. But Mitsubishi is, first, three very different things.

Mitsubishi is the Mitsubishi Group of Companies, a keiretsu of companies operating in a very wide variety of fields. It all started in 1870 by the hand of Yatarô Iwasaki as a freight transporter. Around 1913, the company registered the well known logo with the three diamonds. Among the fields included in the activities of the Group we can find finances, nuclear technology, cars and industrial vehicles, paper milling… Some of the companies in the Group use the three diamond logo, but not all of them.

Kirin and Nikon are also part of the Mitsubishi Group of Companies.

A second company by the same name is Mitsubishi Pencil Co. This has no ties with the big Mitsubishi Group. The pencil company was founded in 1887 by Jinroku Masaki as Masaki Pencil Co. (Masaki Enpitsu), and in 1903 he registered the three diamond logo based on the family crest. The activities of this company, soon to celebrate its 130 years of history, are limited to the production of writing tools, but not of paper.

HI-uni is one of the lines of graphie pencils of Mitsubishi Pencil Co.

Finally, Mitsubishi is also the name of a cider –in the Japanese meaning of it, a non-alcoholic, carbonated soda—produced by the company Konyusha, from Kumamoto, unrelated to the Mitsubishi keiretsu. It was founded in 1883 and registered the three diamond logo in 1919.

Yeah, Mitsubishi cider... together with the three diamond logo as well.

So, there we have three different companies using the same name and the same logo. No wonder, then, the existence of the Mitsubishi Corporate Name and Trademark Committee to control and prevent any fraud in the use of both name and logo. But the problem and the confusion are deeply rooted.

Romillo Essential Black – Montblanc Racing Green

Bruno Taut
Nakano March, 2016
etiquetas: Mitsubishi Pencil, Mitsubishi Paper Mills, papelería

31 October 2015

The New Itoya

Over two years ago, Itoya closed the flagship builing in Ginza for renovation. The main operation was transferred to a nearby building in the meantime. Things were back to normal this past Summer –the renewed headquarters on Chuo Dori, the main street in Ginza, open with the corresponding fanfare.

The new façade of the Itoya flagship store in Ginza.

Back to normal, I said. Really?

Maybe Itoya is back to normal, but not to the way Itoya operated before the renovation. At that time, this shop was a reference in Tokyo for all things stationery. Its stock, and the number of displayed items were impressive. Itoya was the place to go in search for very specific stationery.

Some inexpensive fountain pens are also displayed in the main building. Lamy, Kaweco, the Itoya's series Color Chart... are some of them.

But that does not seem to be the case now.

Now, Itoya is something else. Now, in Itoya you can find many things unrelated to stationery. Now you can find coffee machines, for instance. Now, Itoya is more of a “lifestyle” shop where to look for fashionable and trendy goods. In fact, Itoya now resembles to a Japanese chain of “lifestyle” shops: Loft.

One section Itoya has apparently invested on is the area of customized products –personalized notebooks and printed matters. A lot more space is dedicated to them after the renovation at the expense of many other goods previously present—from notebooks to pens to any accessory--, whose space has been drastically reduced.

Samples of papers for custom prints. At least, beautiful.

Paper samples for custom notebooks.

The fountain pen section, itself a reference in Tokyo and in Japan, has been preserved in the K.Itoya building in the back alley from the headquarters. Stylophiles still have this particular mecca in Tokyo where to go to see what is going in the fountain pen market nowadays.

The café on the top floor. The name says it all. But at least it has some stylographic flavor.

Recently published book. The title, Ginza Itoya. Stationery. And then, "better life". Clear enough?

I wonder what the rationale lies behind this change in the orientation of Itoya, and I cannot see whether this makes economic sense. I do know, however, that right now there are better shops in Tokyo where to find very specific products, no matter Itoya –and many others, for that matter—could take your order.

Itoya’s headquarters now might be a lot more beautiful, but that is about it. Itoya has lost a lot of the previous appeal as stationery shop.

Pilot Penmanship – Montblanc White Forest

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, October 29th, 2015
etiquetas: mercado, Tokyo, papelería, Itoya