The start of the new school year in April makes this a great time for Japanese to indulge in their fetish for stationery. Despite increasing digitalization in the workplace, many people still relish the opportunity to write their kanji by hand and the market for notepads and pens is still remarkably healthy. In this post we take a look at a few stationery trends.
As usual kawaii (cuteness) is king and products such as Nichiban’s new heart-shaped scotch tape holders, which can be hung from a school bag on a strap, look set to sell well among the back-to-school school set. But the grown-up female market is all about notebooks, according to Nikkei Trendy. Functionality and high quality are the watchwords here. One example being Midori’s to-do-list notepad from their Ojisan range, featuring little boxes that can be ticked once a task has been accomplished. The on the dot range of notepads by Maruai Select utilizes dots instead of ruled lines or squares and is a creative format, giving the option for users to write horizontally, vertically or use the space for making sketches.
A couple of years ago Ending Note notebooks were a hit with the elderly population, allowing them to write down useful information for relatives to use in the event of their death. The idea of using a notebook to store useful information in has been developed by Kokuyo who’ve brought out a notepad aimed at women that lets them record information about their relationships with other people. There is a space to write out your family tree, a place to record information about people you’ve met on social networks (useful for those who forget who all their Facebook “friends” are) and a place to record information on gifts you’ve received and gifts you ought to give.
Though notebooks are very nice, for those who use them regularly, they do tend to pile up, creating unwieldy mounds of unsorted information. Electronics manufacturer King Jim has come up with an app to solve this problem. Shot Note allows you to digitize and sort your analog notes by taking a photo with your smartphone and uploading it to a database. It automatically resizes the image, cutting off the space left at the corners of the paper and also adjusts the color to be easily read. The app has proved popular and downloads have now exceeded 1 million.
Some stationery makers are looking to the past for inspiration. Okimak, for instance, has revived the craft of kamiko, a waterproof material made from washi paper that has the look and feel of distressed leather. Made by crumpling washi so that it becomes soft and malleable, then coating the paper in tree sap to make it waterproof, Okimak makes really beautiful book covers and pen cases.
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