7 Geniusly-Invented Japanese Stationery!

7 Geniusly-Invented Japanese Stationery!

We Japanese have a real love affair with stationery, as any visitor to a large stationery store in Japan will immediately see from the astounding range of items and designs on offer. Of course, Western stationers too carry a wide range of goods, but they have been largely utilitarian in design until quite recently, when ? yes, you’ve guessed it ? Japanese stationery manufacturers started making inroads into those markets!

One might think the rise of e-mail and text messaging means fewer people are writing letters by hand, yet there many traditional contexts for which there is no substitute for a hand-written message. In Japaneseculture, it has long been the case that, given the subtleties of meaning of kanji characters, the way a message is written and presented is at least as important as the message itself. It is also true to say that the distinctions between art, design and the written word are blurred in Japan, where even a single kanji, when expressed through shod?, is a work of art.

Paper too is an important part of Japanese stationery culture, whether as decorative kinp? wraps for cash gifts, speciality papers for origami modelling or gift wrapping, or indeed the paper screens in our homes, and the skill and creativity of our paper-making art is well known.

There is also a healthy youth market for all manner of novel and trendy pen cases, erasers, writing implements, seals (stickers), staplers and so forth, much of it aimed at young girls as part of kawaii culture. Japanese schoolkids, oppressed by years of thankless swatting, may be forgiven for the frivolous Japanese stationery that adorns their desks and school bags!

With such a wealth of Japanese stationery products to choose from, it has been difficult to choose seven that are especially outstanding, but here is my modest selection for you to look for.



 

7 Geniusly-Invented Japanese Stationery!

 

1. Don’t Eat That Cookie!

The other day, my daughter offered me an Oreo cookie and it was only when I took it from her that I realised it was an eraser! But whether you choose one of the myriad cleverly shaped erasers available, or something plain, you can be sure it won’t leave a smudge or chew up the surface of the paper. Now, if only I can get my daughter to clean up her eraser dust!

 

2. Keeping it Tidy

Actually, cleaning up eraser dust is a lot easier these days. We’ve all seen those cute miniature dustpans and brushes, but now there are various battery-operated mini-vacuum cleaners to help keep desks and PC keyboards spotless.

 

3. Case-by-Case

Pencil cases have always been popular Japanese stationary items. Some are made to resemble cuddly toys or everyday objects such as snack packaging, others look like miniature suitcases or piano keyboards, and many are themed to popular children’s characters like Hello Kitty. But my all time favorite must be the herring… when zipped closed it looks like the fish, but when opened up, it is like grilled herring.

 

4. Erasable Ball Pens

One of my favorite products is the Frixion pen. Available in a range of colours, this ball pen features an eraser on its cap, and yes, it isn’t a new idea, but it is the first type I’ve used that actually works!

 

5. Shodo Goes Hi-Tech

While on the subject of pens, the Fudepen combines a brush-like nib with a refillable body making the art of shodo possible wherever you are without the need for messy ink or washing brushes! But this versatile pen is just as useful for writing letters and greetings, as well as for other art and design purposes.

 

6. Ruler Tape

Sticky tape and masking tape comes in all kinds of colorful widths and lengths suitable for securing gift wrappings, holding up wall posters and many other household and office uses. One of the most popular recently is printed to look like a bamboo ruler, and its markings are accurate. I use it in dressmaking!

 

7. Sushi Stapler

And to finish, here’s something delightfully weird: sushi-shaped staplers! I’ve seen these in salmon, tuna and shrimp shape, but maybe there are others. Actually, they are virtually the same size as real sushi, so they won’t handle more than two or three sheets of paper, but who says Japanese stationery always has to be practical?

 

Conclusion

As I said, it’s hard to do justice to the kinds of Japanese stationery items available in a short article, but I hope it has given you some interesting ideas for souvenirs and gifts when you visit Japan.

 

7 Geniusly-Invented Japanese Stationery!

1. Don’t Eat That Cookie!
2. Keeping it Tidy
3. Case-by-Case
4. Erasable Ball Pens
5. Shodo Goes Hi-Tech
6. Ruler Tape
7. Sushi Stapler