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BEGIN Japanology

Apr. 25, Thu.


Japanese stationery goods are popular all over the world. Most stationery goods used today are originally Western in origin, but Japanese companies have continued to churn out new and improved versions.

The ballpoint pen, for example, first came to Japan along with post-WWII US occupation forces, but in the decades that followed the Japanese pioneered water-based ink, erasable ink, gel ballpoints, and ballpoints that can write even when facing upwards.

One stationery fad sweeping Japan right now is "girls' stationery": cute, stylish products, like decorative masking tape, that appeal to female consumers.

Some Japanese people use pens in a way that has nothing to do with writing: they spin them! A man known as the "father of pen spinning" gave a previously informal pastime a formal public identity.

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, our theme is stationery. We'll explore the technology, design appeal, and sense of fun in Japanese stationery goods.