Japanese Store Exclusive Inks: 2024

When I returned to Japan in February of this year, I was better prepared in my search for exclusive inks. As you will know if you’ve seen my video series about hunting for exclusive inks in Japan last year, many stationery stores in Japan carry their own exclusive inks, often made by Sailor, but just as commonly made by Tono and Lims or other ink brands, and the same thing is also true of bookstores, lifestyle stores, copy-shops, and sometimes other assorted landmarks like museums.

[PLEASE NOTE: There is a video at the top of this page. If you don’t see it, then turn off any of your ad and script blockers that may be hiding it]

Last year I had tracked down a dozen or so of these shops around Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but this time, I’d spent the year looking for clues about shops with exclusive inks, and was able to find around one hundred different locations… though many of them are just separate branches of the same stationery chains. To help in planning my travel routes, I added them to a map of Japan:

I’ve shared the map here in case you want to try tracking them down yourself, but please remember that these map markers are sometimes based on vague clues, some of them are old and out of date, and some of them are possibly mis-placed on the map, so make sure that you verify them before you make plans with them.

To start off my ink hunt this year, I went to Bungubox (which was closed last year while they moved to a new location). Bungubox has a large range of colors in their own signature “glass slipper” bottles, including pigment and dye-based inks.

The next day, I visited Tokyo’s “eslite Spectrum”, a Taiwanese bookstore/department store that has very impressive collection of Taiwanese inks along with a variety of Japanese ones, and several Japanese-made exclusive inks. These included two Sailor inks in square bottles, and two inks inspired by a popular Taiwanese milk tea brand (S&C 3:15 Milk Tea) made by Ink Mazeru, a small ink company from Osaka. Also on the shelf were several Kobe inks. At least one of them was exclusive (Taiwan Alishan Green) and I got that, but I wasn’t sure about the others, and they didn’t grab me anyway.

After Eslite, I walked up the street to Stationery Station in the Mitsukoshi building. Stationery Station had three different Sailor inks in vase bottles, including a very interesting purple, and they also have several exclusives from TAG stationery, although I didn’t get one this time. They also have some Tono and Lims exclusives.

My third stop was Touch & Flow in the Nihonbashi Takashimaya department store (5th floor). Touch & Flow has a line of “Landscape” branded inks in the triangular / wedge shaped bottles that are so well known from the Diamine 150th Anniversary inks. I quickly discovered that these inks are made in Austria, though, so I skipped them and moved on with my search.

In the second part of this series, I’ll finish up my hunt in the Tokyo area before moving on to Nagasaki.

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