A pen is just a pen, right?
Nope. Not when it comes from Japan.
A pen transforms into a technologically advanced work of art once the Japanese get a hold of it.
Japanese stationery stands apart in a league of its own. You have to try some of these things to believe they actually exist. You get all the wonderful qualities you’d expect from Japanese products.
Take a quick look inside a bunbougu-ya (文房具屋 – stationery shop). You’ll find everything designed and crafted with the golden touch of near-perfection.
Today I’ll tell you about my 10 favorite products. These amazing items represent the cutting edge of school and office supplies. They make working, studying, or even writing a simple shopping list easier and more fun.
1. Zebra Mildliner Highlighter Pens
When you think of highlighters, the same four or five fluorescent colors come to mind.
But why must we use the same old boring colors when there are so many gorgeous shades in this world?
And do they have to be so… fluorescent?
That’s what the folks at Zebra thought. That’s why they created their Mildliner highlighters.
These highlighters come in pretty, tasteful, and unorthodox colors. Colors like Mild Blue Green, Mild Gold, Mild Gray, and Mild Magenta. They have softly colored ink that doesn’t overpower the page.
They’re also dual-sided. One end is your standard chisel-tip for highlighting purposes. The other is super fine for underlining, circling, and other detailed markings.
These pens work great for highlighting. They’re also fun for bullet journaling, writing in planners, and good old-fashioned doodling.
Buy on Amazon here: Zebra Mildliner Highlighter Pens
2. MUJI Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens
They’re all about simple, well-designed products. Their Gel Ink Ballpoint pens are no exception – they offer a super simple shape and design.
The pens are comfortable to grip when you’re frantically taking notes.
The ink flows smoothly without any pressure, and there’s barely any smearing or bleeding.
The best part… despite their high quality, Muji pens are generally cheaper than other gel ink pens on the market.
With nine different colors, they make writing notes and letters and whatever else you do so much more fun.
Buy on Amazon here: MUJI Gel Ink Ballpoint Pens
3. Kokuyo Kado-Keshi Eraser
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In this case, try not to judge an eraser by its odd design.
When you use a standard eraser, the once crisp corners wear down into rounded ones. This makes it difficult to erase tiny details.
To solve this problem, the Kado-keshi eraser comes equipped with 28 edges. You’ll never run out of fresh edges to use.
It’s because of the strange shape the Kado-keshi makes it onto this list. You don’t see a design like this every day. The eraser even had its own exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 2004.
It was designed by the famous product designer Hideo Kanbara. Leave it to a Japanese designer to create a work of art from a humble plastic eraser.
Buy on Amazon here: Kokuyo Kado-Keshi Eraser
4. Lihit Lab “Teffa” Pen Case
With all this amazing Japanese stationery, you’ll need a place to put everything.
I’ve found the perfect pen case to organize and store your precious items on the go.
It has a spot for each of your stationery tools. They won’t get jumbled up and damaged when you’re running around town.
You get tons of pockets, a sectional divider, and straps across the front cover and center divider.
The Teffa Pen Case keeps your equipment on lockdown. From pens and pencils to scissors, from USB drives to coloring pencils and more, it all fits in the Teffa.
Zip it up and you have everything you need, protected and organized. And looking pretty smart, too.
Buy on Amazon here: Lihit Lab “Teffa” Pen Case
5. Kokuyo Campus Smart Ring Binder Notebook
You want to keep your notes and topics organized… but lugging around four or five notebooks tires you out and gets annoying. Fast.
So you write some stuff in one notebook. Then you skip a bunch of pages and start writing about a different topic.
Later on in the day, you review your notes. There are notes with ideas for your daughter’s 5th birthday party, recipes you want to try, and even some sketches for work…It’s a complete mess!
How can you keep all of this organized? What can you do to stop from having your notes all over the place?
That’s where the Kokuyo’s Campus Smart Ring Binder notebook comes in.
It’s a brilliantly designed hybrid notebook and binder.
Unlike most binders on the market, the Campus Smart Ring is super slim and light, like a notebook.
And unlike most notebooks, you can organize your pages quite easily. They’re held together by rings which pop open – like a binder.
You can write your notes without worrying about what page you’re on. You can easily pop open the ring to organize everything, exactly the way you want it. Genius!
I absolutely love my Kokuyo notebook. I bought mine on Amazon a while ago. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m never going back to plain old notebooks again!
Buy on Amazon here: Kokuyo Campus Smart Ring Binder Notebook
6. 8900 Tombow Pencils
Tombow’s 8900 pencils have been best-sellers for almost half a century. They haven’t changed much since their beginnings.
They still come packaged in a yellow box with the same design. But now the package looks charmingly retro with its namesake “Tombo” or dragonfly logo.
Artists love the 8900 Tombow. It’s also perfect for the rest of us who just want a high-quality pencil.
It’s available in different grades, from 2B through 2H. The pencil has a bright olive-green lacquer and a hexagonal shape.
With a well-centered lead core, you don’t have to worry about breakage. The pencil also writes with good point retention. This means you won’t have to sharpen it as much.
The price is great. For its excellent quality and design, the 8900 pencil is totally worth it.
Buy on Amazon here: 8900 Tombow Pencils
7. Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil
Uni’s mechanical pencil, “Kuru Toga,” is the best mechanical pencil you’ll ever own… at least until the Japanese come up with something else!
Have you ever had this problem when you’re writing with a mechanical pencil… The sides of the lead point wear down a bit, so you end up with some lines thicker than others?
Well, not with the Kuru Toga.
The pencil’s main feature is a mechanism inside the grip that rotates the lead as you write.
What does the rotation do for you? Every time you write, you write a clean, crisp line, because the lead stays at a consistently sharp point. Isn’t that crazy!?
Along with this high-tech feature, the Kuru Toga has a super comfortable grip.
Buy on Amazon here: Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil
8. Kokuyo Harinacs Stapleless Stapler
Yes, I know it sounds like a magic trick.
I assure you, it’s not.
The Harinacs Stapleless Stapler is real.
How many times have you run out of staples halfway through a project? How often have you had to go searching around the office (or house) for more?
Keeping staples in stock and loading them into the stapler every time you run out is so bothersome.
Not to mention those awful staple jams that seem to happen way too often.
With the Harinacs stapler, you’ll never have to deal with staples again. It uses a different method to bind papers together.
Here’s how it works: The stapler punches a U-shaped hole in the paper. It leaves a little flap attached, then tucks it through a thin slit in the next page.
It’s surprisingly secure. You can bind up to eight to ten pages together (depending on the model) without any trouble.
Another awesome feature: you can stick your papers into a paper shredder. You won’t have to worry about jamming it with staples.
Bonus: it comes in a variety of fun, punchy colors, like hot pink and lime green.
Buy on Amazon here: Kokuyo Harinacs Stapleless Stapler
9. Sakura Washable Crayons
If you have little ones who love to color, you know they don’t always color on paper like you want them to.
Walls, tables, couches, and floors are all acceptable surfaces for coloring… according to kids, anyway.
But with these washable crayons from Sakura, that’s one less thing you need to worry about. The markings come off with water.
These short, chubby crayons allow even the youngest of artists to grip and color with ease.
And they don’t break easily, a common complaint with other brands.
The box design is visually appealing with cute little drawings. Inside the box, the individual compartments give each crayon a home.
The area for each crayon is color-coded and labeled. This encourages your little ones to put the crayons away after they’re done.
It also teaches them the early math skills of matching and classifying.
Last, but not least, the box comes with an elastic band. The band keeps the box closed when your child wants to carry it around everywhere. Kids (and parents!) won’t have to go looking for lost crayons nearly so often.
Buy on Amazon here: Sakura Washable Crayons
10. Tombow Mono 2-Way Correction Tape
Add a Tombow Mono 2-way correction tape to your life, and you solve all your correction needs with one tool.
One side has a slide-out correction tape head. The correction tape glides smoothly over paper. It retracts when you’re done, so it doesn’t get messy when it’s jostled around in your pen case.
The other side is an eraser that twists out when you need it.
Both the correction tape and eraser are refillable, too.
If you switch from pen to pencil a lot, this is a definite must-have. It’s also fantastic for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of stationery they use.
Buy on Amazon here: Tombow Mono 2-Way Correction Tape
Why are Japanese Stationery Supplies so Cutting Edge?
Japanese stationery offers beautiful, efficient designs, and incredible innovations.
Japanese stationery, like everything else made in Japan, keeps getting better.
Year after year. Decade after decade.
It’s a combination of the following factors:
• Fierce competition among companies. Japanese companies expect their employees to work very, very hard. They accept nothing but being number one in their market.
• Japanese customers expect super-high quality. They also expect everything to be on the cutting edge.
• Japan has lots of creative inventors. Where else would a world-class designer put so much effort into designing a cool eraser?
Make sure you stop by a bunbougu-ya the next time you’re in Japan. Have a look around.
You’ll quickly understand how seriously the Japanese take their office supplies. The technology in a simple stationery store will make your jaw drop.
Do You Have a Favorite Japanese Stationery Item?
Tell us about it in the comments.
Don’t forget to share this article with your friends… especially those who go to school or work in an office. They’ll thank you once they try some of these cool products!