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Cult Pens Guide to Tokyo Stationery and Pen Shops

The front of Itoya stationery shop in TokyoWe know that Cult Pens customers love Japanese pens and stationery. From timeless writing instruments made by Sailor, Pilot and Platinum, beautiful inks, quality papers and journals from Midori MD, and pen cases from Lihit Lab. There are also great ‘everyday’ pens from the likes of Pentel, Zebra and Uni-ball. Oh, and how can I forget the delightful little paper clips from Ohto that we attach to the invoice in all our customer orders?

You may be lucky enough to have a trip to Japan booked, in which case this short guide will help you find some ‘bucket list’ stationery stores. If not, you have no doubt heard of Tokyo’s legendary stationery shops - maybe including one that has 13 floors! 

We start in Ginza, considered the most exclusive shopping district in Tokyo, and possibly one of the most upscale shopping areas in the world. Amongst glitzy cocktail bars, expensive sushi restaurants and designer Italian boutiques we find the legendary Itoya. Itoya is actually a chain with stores in cities across Japan. The flagship Tokyo store has 13 floors and a 4-floor satellite store - yes, that’s right, 17 floors to explore! Across them, you’ll find a vast range of pens, pencils, paper and art supplies.

Floor guide outside Itoya stationery store in Tokyo

Interior of Itoya stationery shop in Tokyo, showing their display of luxury pensLuxury pens are located on the 3rd floor. A fine display, with all the major Japanese and international brands. There is also a Montblanc boutique, and a counter offering pen repairs and personalisation. I spotted many Itoya exclusives and a few licensed products only available in the Japanese market. I picked up a Sailor x Disney ink with a Jungle Book theme (my favourite childhood movie!). Unfortunately we won’t be able to sell this one at Cult Pens - I tried! I also noticed high end special and limited editions including the Graf von Faber-Castell ‘Pen of the Year’ and the Year of the Dragon pen from Caran d’Ache.

The ‘Craft’ and ‘Work’ floors are also well worth a visit for paper products, including the widest range of craft papers I’ve ever seen. I picked up a few greetings cards in Itoya as well, a touch of Japan for upcoming Birthdays and Weddings.

The outside of the Ancora store in TokyoNext, staying in Ginza, you’ll find Ancora, a shop created in partnership with Sailor Pens. I call it a ‘shop’ but in reality this is more of a luxury pen boutique than a mere stationery shop. Beautifully curated displays and innovative ‘ink bars’ plus ‘build a pen’ stations make this a totally immersive shopping experience. Ancora is famous for its exclusive products which have been known to create queues in the street and sell out in a matter of hours. I couldn’t resist creating my own pen. After selecting the individual components, the pen is skilfully assembled and presented for inspection before being packaged up. A great experience.

Andy's pen, being custom made in Ancora

Crossing Tokyo to the Shinjuku area you’ll find Kingdom Note. Similarly to Ancora this is beautifully presented store. Focussing on high end pen brands include Montegrappa, Montblanc, Graf von Faber-Castell, as well as writing instruments from Japanese manufacturers. There is a small ink range on offer with Diamine being the best represented brand - nice to see a British brand being so successful in Japan.

The outside of the Sekaido store in TokyoSekaido, also in the Shinjuku area, is more of an Art and Craft store, but does have a pen counter. Over six floors you’ll find frames, canvas, an amazing range of art materials from all the big brands, and a credible stationery range. Japanese art and calligraphy is very well represented, with numerous brush and dip pens, specialist papers, and oil paints. The store has a large range of ‘loose’ pens (not as big a range as Cult Pens, but pretty close!). There is a large range from Copic and paper products from the main European and Japanese brands.

The inside of the Sekaido store in Tokyo

‘Loft’ should have an honourable mention, a department store offering a variety of lifestyle goods. I visited the Shibuya store. As well as impressive displays of ‘everyday writing’ there is a well stocked fine writing area. Caran d’Ache and Parker were well represented. I was also excited to see a large range from Lihit Lab, most of which can be found at Cult Pens. 

It’s worth noting that small independent pen shops are much more prevalent in Japan. In the arches under the railway line at Taino I found small shops offering comprehensive repair services, as well as vintage pens from Montblanc and Pilot.

For anyone who loves journaling, The Traveler’s Factory in Nakameguro is well worth a visit. There are stores across Tokyo but the original Traveler’s Factory is the one to visit. In fact it was so special it was worthy of its own separate blog post.

Japan truly is the land of stationery and there are no doubt many more worthy stores not in this list. Here are Cult Pens were always working to bring you the best of Japanese Stationery. A few of our favourites can be found in this collection.

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