As promised, it’s time to show you all the stationery I saw while in Japan! I took far too many photos which would make the website load too slow if I attempted to include them all in one blog post, so instead I’ve created a series. Click the links below to go to my reviews for the various shops.
There’s a lot of photos in each of these posts, so give them a little time to load.
Japanese Stationery Stores I Visited
- Part 1 – Sekaido, Stationery Station, Don Quijote, tag, mt lab and Seria (this post)
- Part 2 – Tokyo Hands
- Part 3 – Loft
- Part 4 – Itoya
Related post: Japanese stationery haul
Tips for Stationery shopping in Japan
– Take photos of the stationery stands for items you are considering buying at each store so you can compare prices if you’re in another store.
– Most pens were sold individually so you can buy just the colors that you want, but sometimes one store doesn’t have all the colors left in stock. The receipts were all in Japanese and they don’t print full brand names so you won’t be able to use the receipts to compare prices or remember what you bought (which is what I normally do). Instead, you may want to keep a list in the notes app on your phone and take photos of items as you purchase them so you don’t accidentally purchase an item twice.
– It’s worth visiting the chain craft stores multiple times and / or in different cities as some stores are larger than others with more items to choose from
– Like trying to find most things in Japan, some stationery shops were hard to find so make sure you allow extra time to navigate
– If you go to Japan and see some washi tape or other stationery items with Japanese words / brands / packaging and you like it – buy it! Not all stationery stores stocked the same brands and some I only saw in one shop. It becomes a bit of a blur after a while and it’s hard to remember what was at each shop
– I tried the Google Translate app with the characters on the back of packaging but it didn’t work, so maybe have a backup translator app. Do your research of what brands you want to buy (maybe write a shopping list as you go through this blog post series), or be prepared to ask multiple shop attendants for help, as people able to speak English weren’t that common.
– There are clusters of stationery stores close together in Shibuya (where you’ll probably be heading to do the touristy things anyway) and Ginza – which isn’t too far from Tokyo’s central train station (but is not in a touristy area). In Kyoto and Osaka, the stationery shops are mostly close together too.
Address: Japan, 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Shinjuku, 3 Chome−1−1 1F～5F 世界堂ビル
This was the first stationery shop I visited on my trip and it left a good first impression!
This store is located near Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden which is very convenient if you visit at cherry blossom time.
Related post: Detailed Japan 11 day itinerary
Some of the brands stocked at this store
- SODA washi tape
- mt washi tape
- Post it notes
- Sarasa pens
- Pilot Juice up pens
- Many Japanese named brands that I couldn’t tell you as Google Translate did not work on the often tiny characters printed on the packaging
I could’ve bought all of these washi tapes…
This store actually had some washi tapes swatched.
I did buy a set of these tabs to use for bullet journaling. I’m sure you can guess which ones I chose… (The rainbow of course)
My rating: 5/5
Address: various locations, I visited this one: 2 Chome-10 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Depending on the size / location you visit, this cheap store had an aisle or two of stationery. This is a good place to buy the Zebra Mildliners at only 110 yen / approx. $1.30 AUD (which is a dollar less per highlighter than a bulk set on Amazon), plus you can choose whatever colours you want.
The rest of the stationery in this store wasn’t that great.
My rating: 1/5
Stationery Station (Kawagoe)
Address: Japan, 〒350-0043 Saitama, Kawagoe, Shintomicho, 2 Chome−４−3
If you venture outside of Tokyo and make your way to Kawagoe, on the main street heading away from the train station and towards the historical area with the traditional Japanese architecture, is a store called Stationery Station.
Some of the brand stocked at this store:
- Tombow dot markers
- Tombow Play Color K dual tip markers
- Firxion pens, highlighters and erasable self inking stamps
- Zebra Mildliner
- Frixion self inking stamps
- Frixion light marker pens
- Uni Propus Window highlighters
- Zebra highlighters
- Pilot frixion highlighters (bright and pastel)
- Tombow kei coat 80 highlighters
- Pentel highlighters (one of the few stores I went to that stocked these)
- Sakura Gelly Roll
- Zebra clickart pens
- Pilot juice pens
- Sticky notes in shapes and on tape dispenser rolls
As aesthetically pleasing as it is to see individual pen displays like these, I didn’t want to buy them much from this store because of it. Pens and highlighters should be stored horizontally to evenly distribute the ink and prevent them from drying out. There were also no seals on the lids and no separate tester pens or highlighters, so it’s lucky dip if the item you are buying has already lost some ink from other people using it as a tester.
This shop had almost every type of Sakura Gelly Roll pens and must be frequented often as some of these pen ranges were mostly sold out.
One of the few stores that sold the Tombow pens individually.
My rating: 3/5
This shop wasn’t far from Kyoto’s main train station.
Some of the brands stocked at this store:
- Tombow highlighters
- Tombow kei coat highlighters
- dot e square dot markers
- Zebra mildliners
- Zebra brush pens
- Zebra Sarasa pens
- Uni Propus highlighters
- ninpie pens
- Various Japanese branded stamps that could be used for planning
This was one of the few occasions where a stationery store had planners. All of the planners in Japan had simple, minimalist layouts. It was hard to find dot journals, the Japanese definitely have a preference for square grid paper.
Would’ve bought this planner if the paper wasn’t so thin!
First planner I’ve ever seen that has a 24 hour schedule and starts at 4am! I know 9-9-6 culture is a real thing in Japan but this schedule seems a bit extreme to me…
Some stamps are too big to be practical for planning, but most of the stamps in Japan’s stationery stores were a good size (approx. 1cm square or smaller). There wasn’t a brand name on these stamps but I did see them at other stationery stores too.
The stamps were reasonably priced and there were plenty of functional shapes and icons that would’ve been great… but they’re not self-inking and I can’t be bothered with the hassle of using ink pads and cleaning stamps so I didn’t buy any.
One of the few times I saw the Sarasa collaboration Mildliner pens (0.4 pen tip size).
They had the limited edition Frixion light and my favorite dot e pens (individually and in packs of 3). I wish they came in a pack with all of the colors. The price of buying them in the packs was about the same as purchasing the colours individually.
If you want to see how bright the colors are, I swatched them in this post: Japanese stationery haul
I loved the colors of the self inking stamps by the color to color brand, I just wish there had been images on the stamps that I’m more likely to regularly use e.g. meal planning, birthday, checkboxes etc.
One of the few times I found some planner stencils!
My rating: 4/5
Kyoto is very spread out, the stationery shops were closer together in Tokyo and Osaka. So I went to most stationery shops on a day trip to Osaka (it’s only a 30 min train from Kyoto).
mt lab. Osaka
Address: 3 Chome-6-21 Nakatsu, Kita Ward, Osaka, 531-0071, Japan
The mt store is in Osaka but most of the washi tapes from this brand are stocked in stationery sections of Loft and Tokyo Hands which you can find in other cities of Japan.
Like most things in Japan, it is tucked away in a rabbit warren of streets, on the bottom level of a tall skinny building. (I would be keen to know how much usable floor space in Japan is lost to stairs in all these tiny high rises!)
This shop is great to visit if you’re a planner addict and to see the washi tape wall, but it is out of the way in what felt like a somewhat sketchy area of Osaka (I wouldn’t want to be there at night).
There is also a store near the Taito area of Tokyo (could be combined with a visit to the Skytree or Sensō-ji).
In the Osaka mt lab store there are two walls of washi which are worth a visit just to see in person how they organize and display it all.
The walls are organized into small clear drawers and you can pull any of the washi tapes out to have a closer look. Some of the drawers have number codes that correspond to the washi tape to help you find them easier.
The ladies who were working in the store were very friendly and up for a chat (as much as we can chat via Google Translate and hand gestures!).They didn’t mind me taking photos and were happy to show me swatches and help me find the washi tapes I liked.
I will say, there was a lot of double ups on the washi tape walls, I saw the same washi tapes 2 – 3 times so the range was actually a lot smaller than I was expecting.
There was unfortunately very few functional washi tapes, mostly decorative. Most washi tapes were 10mm wide with a handful of 5mm and 3mm wide tapes.
If the length of washi rolls is important to you, make sure you check as some of them were 7m long, others 10m long.
They had a few washi tapes exclusive to their shop (they’re not sold in Loft, Tokyo Hands and other stores that stock the mt tape) including these unusually shaped ones.
It’s definitely much smoother and easier to unroll a round washi tape than the square or triangle shape.
To see my swatches of the washi tapes I bought at mt, see this post: Japanese stationery haul
I was hoping for some washi tape sets but it was mostly individual rolls. They had clustered together similar types so you could pick and choose and build your own collection. Unfortunately there was no discount if you purchased multiple rolls (of a similar type or different types).
My rating: 2/5 (because it’s out of the way to get to, and you can find most of the same washi tapes in the other stores on this list and there wasn’t actually a lot of variety). You should still go for the experience though!
Address: Japan, 〒530-0015 Osaka, Kita Ward, Nakazakinishi, 2 Chome−4−20 チェルシーマーケット １階
Itoya, Loft and Daiso are within walking distance. mt lab. is a bit further away but still within walking distance. NAGASAWA is further up the street but it looked like more expensive stationery (especially those expensive Parker style pens), so I gave it a miss.
This store is directly under the train line as in, every time a train goes over the top, the shelves in the store would shake!
I almost walked past this cheap store, but saw some stickers through the window so went in. These were only 110 yen each… yes I bought all of them 🙂
There were some inserts and plastic sleeves but they’re designed for ring binders which I don’t use (I explained why in this post). If you do like using ring binding, I would measure your hole spacing and number of holes and keep this on the notes app of your phone so you can refer to it if you ever come across inserts in your travels.
I’m wary of buying sticky notes from cheap stores as they’re generally not sticky enough. If you’re willing to risk it, there were some skinny sticky notes and tab sticky notes – both of which would be great for marking your place in a planner or notebook that doesn’t have tabs.
This store reminds me of Daiso where there are no prices displayed, basically everything is just 100 yen (110 yen including tax) each!
Just note that at that price, you won’t get much on the roll. If you only occasionally use washi tape in your spreads, 3m is still plenty though.
There was a random assortment of stickers but if you look on the lower shelves in the photo below, there were some simple dot and rectangle labels you could use for tabs / sections / color coding your planner or bullet journal.
There were also butterfly clips, paperclips and other small accessories, as well as plenty of storage options including white and clear containers that would be perfect for pens and small planner accessories.
My Rating: 2/5 a few nice cheap finds, but not a ‘true’ stationery store
I took a quick look in department stores like Isetan but they’re very upmarket department stores and the stationery section was tiny (really only had fancy pens).
Tip: The stationery section is usually near the top floor of department stores.
You could also try Daiso but we have that in Australia so I didn’t go to the one in Japan.
I’ve been to a few Muji’s around the world and they all seem to stock the same stationery – including the stores in Japan. If you do make your way there, I highly recommend the gel pens (especially the 0.5 tip size).
OTHER PLANNER SUPPLIES
Overall there weren’t many planners, dot grid notebooks (mostly just lined and graph pages) or planner refill inserts (and those that I did find were pre-punched for ring binders). The brands that I did manage to find didn’t appeal to me – they were in the moleskine style (stitched binding and yellowish paper). A lot of them had very simple layouts you can find practically anywhere now (basic vertical, horizontal, weekly notes).
Unfortunately I didn’t find any discbound notebooks.
Most of the pens and highlighters were available individually and many of them were available for testing without a seal or protection on the pen tip, so make sure you test it works / check there is still ink in the pen tube before you buy it.
Overall I definitely recommend Japan for washi tape, pens, highlighters and self inking stamps, but not for other planner accessories or planners.
Continue reading the rest of this series
This is part 1 of my Japan stationery shopping tour, don’t forget to read part 2, part 3 and part 4.
See what I bought from each of these stores in my Japanese stationery haul.
More stationery shopping around the world
- Favorite Stationery Shops in Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp & Bruges)
- Stationery shopping in the USA
- My 2nd Europe Stationery Haul!
- My favorite sticky note brands for planning
- Planning Tips: 10 Ways to Plan Your Week Faster
- The 3 things I plan digitally instead of using pen and paper
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