All About Japan

The Top 8 Stationery from The Wonder 500™

| Art , Stationery

Japan has gained a reputation in the West for its abundance of elegantly designed stationery and office supplies. The pieces below from the Wonder 500™ collection combine beautiful Japanese aesthetics with the functionality and form necessary for high performance and reliability at work and at home. They also make great gifts!

8. SAI Coloring Brush Pens

Although ink was previously only available in black, color pens now provide a wealth of colors, making watercolor drawings possible.

SAI coloring brush pens are available in 20 colors. These are crafted with a focus on the deep sensibility of traditional Japanese colors. The brush tips are made using the traditional Nara-fude method for the wonderful touch of an authentic brush. One appeal of these brushes is the ability to freely express line thickness and color shading.

7. Shobundo Seals

Satsuma tsuge, a type of boxwood tree, has been prized as a wood for comb-making since the Edo Period (1603-1867). The fine-grained, hard and strong qualities of this material were used to create a seal that bears the original shape of the branch before it was cut.

Based on a customer’s order, the soft characters of seal script (an ancient style of Chinese calligraphy) are carved into the branch of a tree. The design, along with the warmth and texture of the tree, produce a unique and lovely texture. This seal has its own appealing, one-of-a-kind shape. Not only can ancient seal script be selected, but stamps are available in the English alphabet for international customers, and the seals can be used as a registered, legal seal in Japan.

This is a truly beautiful piece that embodies artisanal techniques and practicality, personality, and a playful spirit.

6. Postcard Case

For ages, Japan has cultivated a custom of storing clothing in paulownia chests of drawers and safekeeping swords and works of art in paulownia cases. Paulownia is known for its excellent insect-repellent properties and its natural capacity to control humidity by becoming more airtight when the moisture content in the atmosphere increases.

This letter case is created by a venerable manufacturer of Buddhist altars and ritual objects from Aizuwakamatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture. This letter box, called Otayoribako Hagaki-ire, has a simple design that replicates the shape of an envelope. It's perfect for storing precious postcards and letters from loved ones, made from the same carefully selected wooden material used for crafting Buddhist altars. The texture and colors inherent to the paulownia highlight the gentle shape of the letter case and give it an exquisite, graceful look. It's a true collector’s item that will make the perfect gift.

5. Washi Paper Notebook

Yukyushi paper is Japanese paper made with a traditional method using sunset hibiscus and homegrown hybrid mulberry trees in Gokayama, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Amid freezing cold winters, the bark of the mulberry tree is dried on top of snow to bleach it naturally. The Yukyushi Daifukucho washi paper notebook, named after the traditional Japanese account book, is both durable and beautiful. Since it is light, it won’t become bulky even when several notebooks are stacked together. It stands up to ultraviolet rays and won’t deteriorate, but it becomes even whiter when it is left in the sun. It is said that this washi will last for almost 1,000 years.

4. Lacquer Craft Box

Manufacturer Uragu designed and directed the creation of this lacquerware box, called Mizunofubako: a fubako letter case. With its elegant form and intricate embellishment with gold powder, the case was completed owing to the exceptional sensibilities and skills of a longstanding Kyoto lacquerware shop. The stylish colored braid is made of original, pure silk sourced from a braided cord shop in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture. This high-quality and modern letter case makes an ideal present for a special someone, or can also be used as a permanent fixture to hold one’s own letter-writing materials or precious items.

3. Reed Calligraphy Pen

With this calligraphy pen, the ink stone, the ink, and the brush pen have become one, so they are very easy to use in modern life. The Reed Calligraphy Pen has been born of environmental preservation activities implemented by Shiga Prefecture, mainly in the area of Lake Biwa.

The body of these pens is crafted out of carefully selected natural reed from Lake Biwa’s Yodo River water system. Each pen is designed around the form of the particular reed to highlight its beauty as it grew in nature, which means that no two pens are alike.

Handmade with great care by skilled craftspeople, these pens offer the smoothest of writing experiences. Not only are they perfect for addressing traditional New Year's cards and gift cards, they are also ideal for drawing wherever you are in the world. Light and versatile, the brush pen makes a perfect travel companion that will help users forge and expand relationships across borders.

2. Portable Sutra-Copying Set

The practice of copying Buddhist sutras by hand is called shakyo. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China in the mid-sixth century, and in the Chronicles of Japan (Nihon Shoki) there are records that shakyo was practiced by the end of the seventh century.

Because printing technology had not yet been invented during its heyday, shakyo was a way to spread the word of Buddhism, and was a part of training. In recent years, the number of people devoted to shakyo has increased as they seek the same serenity provided by zazen meditation.

This item provides an easy way to practice shakyo. It contains a set with an ink brush, ink stone, ink stick, and paperweight as used in shodo, the Japanese art of calligraphy, along with a copy of the Heart Sutra that can be traced to practice . Why not try practicing shakyo at times when you would like to calm your mind? The set comes packaged in a gift box, making it an ideal present.

1. Edo Woodblock Print Notebooks

A goshuin-cho is an accordion-style notebook used to collect stamps and signatures when visiting shrines or temples.

The front and back cover of these Edo woodblock print goshuin notebooks feature woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, who were artists well respected even outside of Japan. With its exceptional styling, the long-lasting Japanese washi paper is painstakingly bound by craftspeople using a kind of Japanese bookbinding called wahon.

This goshuin notebook, made with materials and methods only found in Japan, is popular with many foreign tourists as an extraordinary product that expresses “old Japan.” Why not use it to collect stamps to commemorate visits to Japanese shrines and temples? Or you can use this accordion-style notebook as a unique journal.