For all that Japan famously embraces the high-tech, there are a great number of stationery die-hards here who insist upon traditional pen and writing paper when they have something important to communicate. High-end, artisan-made stationery brands are currently thriving, along with specialty stores ranging from tiny independents to multi-floor monoliths. A visit to Kakimori, a much-loved shop in the historic-turned-hip east Tokyo neighborhood of Kuramae, is recommended for anyone with a yen for putting things into words the analog way.
Opened by owner Takuma Hirose back in 2010 and recently relocated to new premises a few blocks west of Kuramae Station, Kakimori specializes in fountain pens and distinguished-looking bespoke notebooks that are assembled while you wait.
The new location has a minimalist concrete facade that neatly sets off the warmth of the natural shop’s wood-heavy interior, where an old-school binding machine takes center stage. Not that this is an overly serious, museum-like space: traditional parquet flooring is given a contemporary and playful twist via inset tiles in assorted, almost day-glo colors, and this extends beyond the shop floor itself to cover parts of the sales desk and even sections of wall.
Kakimori’s selection of ready-made items is just right in terms of quantity: extensive enough to offer ample choice but without becoming overwhelming and inducing “decision paralysis” (a danger in some of Tokyo’s larger stores!). Own-brand fountain pen is just one type with around 3,000 yen (tax exclude) for a plastic-bodied model, with classic glass designs from around 12,000 yen. Particularly elegant is a tortoiseshell design coming in at 54,000 yen. For casual use and more modest budgets, Kakimori offers rollerball pens from just a few hundred yen, along with pencils in a myriad of hues, including rainbow-colored!
Your implement of choice is only half of the writing equation, of course. Kakimori’s lineup of fine quality writing papers, each stored neatly in its own compartment of a wooden display unit, includes something appropriate for every occasion. Envelopes, meanwhile, include a selection of beautifully hand-printed designs ranging from modernist geometric patterns to softly toned florals.
Owner Hirose is acutely aware of the importance of how pen (or pencil) and paper interact, and with Kakimori’s wealth of options the possible combinations are almost endless. To this end, considerable space—far more than in your average stationery store—is provided for testing these out.
For a truly unique item to take home with you, consider ordering one of the custom-made notebooks that Kakimori is famed for. The entire right-hand side of the shop is devoted to paper stocks and cover materials from which to choose, which are then bound and finished while you observe the process diligently carried out, all in under 20 minutes – 1hour. Such a piece is sure to become a more cherished everyday object than any digital device ever could.
Kakimori’s previous location at 4-20-12 Kuramae, by the way, is now home to sister store inkstand by kakimori, where fountain pen ink can be mixed in unique colors to your specifications.