Back From Japan

It’s already been a week since we came back from Japan, but I needed to recover. The trip was both awesome and exhausting, my brother’s girlfriend already warned us for the jetlag. She needs three days to recover, so I kept the first days light on activities. We met my Twitter friend Cherelle on the second day for dinner which helped beat the jetlag. The next days were filled with good food, games, and fountain pens.

I noticed that twelve days of travel was too much, even when we didn’t leave Tokyo. It was too long and we probably did too much, despite taking enough time to rest. I’m still glad we took this trip. The memories, the experiences, the souvenirs, they’ll stay with me for a long time.

Fountain pen heaven

One of the reasons I was excited to go to Japan was the fountain pen culture. Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor are the three biggest brands from Japan, but hardly the only ones. I was surprised by the availability of fountain pens in non-specialized shops. Loft and Tokyu Hands have just about everything. In the Netherlands, these kinds of shops wouldn’t have a fountain pen section, but in Tokyo they do. They only have the more popular brands, but even that is more than here.

I found the Pilot Iroshizuku ink and nib testing station in Tokyu Hands. Some of the inks were dried out or empty, and that’s when you notice the staff might not be as knowledgeable as specialty stores. The pen selection was okay, with the cheaper school lines and some of the slightly more expensive pens closer to the $100 range. Don’t expect to find rare pens here. Do expect a nice range of inks from all kinds of brands. I picked up my Sailor Studio ink from Loft and a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku from Tokyu Hands for only 12 euros.

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My Japan haul! Two Sailor X Kingdom Notes inks from the sea slug collection. @kingdomnote_pen Sailor Studio ink 841 from @loft_official A trio set of Pilot Iroshizuku ink, Kosumosu, Ajisai and Fuyu-syogun from @kanda_kinpendo Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro full bottle from @tokyuhandsinc Kobe ink 57 bought at @itoya_official I also bought the sparkly red Sailor pen (with free black leather pen sleeve) The two Pelikan we picked up at a store at Ameyoko Market. If you see a place selling zippos, go in and be amazed. We bought the M200 green/gray marbled and the M205 Star Ruby at a discounted price. So worth it. The Preppies are also from Tokyu Hands. I wanted a few more because they're awesome. More and better pics will come later, including examples of all the gorgeous ink. #fountainpen #Blue #turquoise #sailorink #sailorstudioink #sailor #pelikan #pilot #pilotiroshizuku #kobeink #m200 #m205 #starruby #fpgeeks #fp #npd #nid #preppy #japan #japanhaul #stationery

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Here’s the fountain pen haul. I tagged all of the shops where we bought something. We didn’t have time to visit all of the fountain pen shops I had on my list. All the more reason to go back some day.

Stationery galore

Japan is known for modern technology, but pen and paper still hold a special place in the heart of many Japanese people. Planners for the new year were readily available. The selection of a store like Loft is already bigger than the complete collection available in my city. The stationery department in Loft is one of the best I’ve seen. Two aisles filled with washi tape, and stickers for days. They even have stationery clubs and cafes where people can swap and share what they have.

Many characters and franchises had stationery items in their line up, so students and stationery lovers can use them to customize their notebooks with their favourite characters. Most people can’t pick their daily clothes because of school or work uniforms, and they use accessories and stationery to show some personality. Phone cases are wildly decorated, public transport cards held in cute sleeves, and bags in bright colours hang from people’s arms.

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Some quick shots of my stationery haul from Japan. Eevee notebook from the Pokémon center. Tomoe River paper notebook from Kingdom Note. Two half year planners from Loft. Super simple so I can customize it with washi and stickers. Panda notebook from Ueno Zoo, featuring baby Xiang Xiang who turned two this year. I'm going to use this as a reading journal. Life notebook from Tokyu hands. Panda stickers from Loft. Dragon type stickers from the Pokémon center. Shiba stickers from Loft. Shiba washi tape from Can⭐Do. Eevee washi tape from the Pokémon center. Blue crane washi tape from Loft. Pastel watercolour galaxy washi tape from Loft. Blue Sea creature washi tape from the Sunshine City Aquarium. Pokémon gold/silver washi tape set, one with legendaries and one with eeveelutions. #washi #washitape #pokemon #eevee #pocketmonster #shiba #panda #seacreatures #tomoeriverpaper #stickers #planner #planneraddict #notebooks #notebook #Galaxy #foil #crane #blue #watercolour #eeveelutions #Dragon @loft_official @cando_official @pokemon_jpn @kingdomnote_pen @tokyuhandsinc

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This is my stationery haul. I wanted to buy more washi tapes, but had to keep within a budget. Not all of them were cheap and I already have a lot.

Games, games, games

You can’t avoid games in Japan. We had dinner at the Pokemon cafe, video-game-character decorated food items, and ads for games are everywhere. Many people play games on their phones during their commute. Even the older salary men need a moment to relax. The Square Enix HQ was a five minute walk from our hotel, and a cute small building housed the merch shop and small cafe. Next month the Kirby cafe will return as well.

We visited three Pokemon centers, just missing the opening of a fourth near the first Nintendo shop in Japan (the New York Nintendo shop was the only one until last week). Is it too much? A little. But I honestly wanted to visit a Pokemon center again after the launch of Pokemon Sword/Shield with the release of new merch after the 15th. The plushies for the new starters and legendaries were there, as a few other items, but I couldn’t see them clearly because of the crowd. Nothing caught my eye and we left soon after that. Outside of the building was a Pokemon event set up. Pikachu and Scorbunny were outside entertaining the children while a camera crew prepared to shoot their item. It was nice to experience a launch in Japan even though we didn’t see the major events.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about my painniversary and my completed bucket list. Now it’s time to make a new list, look to the future, and dream. My plans for next year aren’t clear either. I hope I can find my path in December while I finish the sequel to Devil’s Deal. More blogs about specific experiences in Japan are coming.

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