Crowds of representatives from home improvement centers, supermarkets and other stores flocked to Japan’s largest stationery and office products fair on Thursday to take in the latest innovations in work supplies.

The 27th International Stationery and Office Products Fair Tokyo drew the participation of a record 345 companies this year at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward, including firms seeking to enter the Japanese and Asian-Pacific markets.

“We have the largest number of participants ever this year,” said spokeswoman Saya Kodama of Reed Exhibitions Japan, the organizer of the fair, which dates back to 1986. The fair runs until July 8.

King Jim Co.’s booth was one of the busiest. The major file and binder maker showcased several new gadgets targeted at office workers.

Its latest product, the Mezamashi Earphone, an alarm clock that fits in your ear, caught the attention of many passers-by.

“It’s designed for tired office workers who are likely to fall asleep during their train commute,” said King Jim spokeswoman Chie Miyazaki.

Another is the Imisiru, an electronic dictionary with a built-in camera.

“You can check the meaning of a word simply by photographing it,” she said, explaining it could be used, for example, to read a restaurant menu in Chinese, which has many kanji unfamiliar to Japanese. The product supports Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese.

Meanwhile, Yamanashi Prefecture-based manufacturer Amano Seisakusho Co. presented the Projector Stamp, a hanko (traditional seal) with an LED light that projects its seal onto documents as a kind of preview to prevent one from stamping it upsidedown or at a bad angle.

“Some banks have recently started accepting signatures, but stamps are still likely to be used in most cases. Using this stamp, you wouldn’t have to worry about making mistakes,” said spokeswoman Maki Yokokume.

Meanwhile, Sonic Corporation seemed to be targeting a younger audience with colorful products.

“We design our products to be used safely by children,” said spokesman Tsuyoshi Kunimori.

Sonic specializes in stationery for elementary school students and is famous for its Super Compass, used in geometry classes nationwide for nearly half a century.

The latest version has a 6-mm needle, which is much shorter and safer than the previous models, which came with a 19-mm spike.

Also drawing attention were Sonic’s Mega-Saku 3-D Air scissors in bright blue, pink, red and yellow. The scissors have rounded tips for safety and are coated in fluorine to improve durability.

The booth that attracted the most interest from the older generation was run by Kuretake Co., a maker of ink used in traditional Japanese calligraphy. Established in 1902, the company has more recently been making a name for itself in high-quality pens.

Some of its fountain pens were priced at ¥100,000, standing out as one of the most expensive products at the fair.

“Since our company is based in Nara, this pen is made from deer horns,” said Kuretake spokeswoman Asuka Ohi. “It is usually the elderly customers who purchase this product, as a gift for someone’s 60th birthday.”

However, on top of writing brushes and fountain pens, Kuretake has added felt-tip pens to its lineup that are finding a market with young customers and those from overseas.

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