Apr. 15, 2020 UPDATE

5 Unique Japanese Stationery Items! How Many Do you Know?

In this blog, we’ll be looking at a few awesomely unique Japanese stationery items that you can find in Kyoto!
stationery items

Japan has a lot of high-quality stationery, so it’s no wonder that it’s so popular with travelers from overseas as souvenirs.

However, some stationery in Japan is so wildly unique that you have no idea what it’s actually used for at first glance. Not only that, a lot of things only come with explanations in Japanese.

That’s why, in this article, we’ll be looking at some out there stationery, what they’re used for and where to get them in Kyoto!

Can you guess what any of them are used for?

Plain old white paper…?

The first thing on our list is this calligraphy paper, which looks like any old normal white paper. But, can you guess what might different about it?

Plain old white paper…?This unique kind of calligraphy paper is actually used for “water calligraphy,” meaning that there’s no need for ink!

Simply by dipping your brush in waterSimply by dipping your brush in water, this awesome paper makes it so that whatever you draw comes out looking like ink!

Not only that, after a while, the picture eventually fades and disappears, so you’re able to use the same page over and over again.

Not only is this paper perfect for practicing your calligraphy and ink wash painting, but it’s also environmentally friendly.

Also, as this paper only needs water, you don’t have to worry about accidentally drawing on the table, which also makes it great for kids.

You can find this “water calligraphy paper” at the long-standing Kyoto stationery store Kousetsuken.

Price: 3 sheets – ¥600 (excl. tax)

A mini broomstick?

A mini broomstick?While they might look like tiny wee broomsticks, these cool “renhitsu” brushes are multiple smaller brushes in one.

These brushes are often used for ink wash painting and calligraphy, but they can also be used in a ton of other ways too, including for watercolors.

Also, as the brushes are so wide, you can play around with adding different colors to different areas and creating gradations, or even just use them like regular paintbrushes.

“Renhitsu” brushes come in four sizes; 3 brush heads, 5 brush heads, 7 brush heads and 9 brush heads.

You can find the “renhitsu” brushes at the long-standing Kyoto stationery store Kousetsuken.

Price: (those pictured above) Large – ¥9,000, medium – ¥1,5000, small – ¥5,500 (excl. tax)

*Prices differ by size and bristle quality. See in-store for details. 

Address Eng: 474 Kawaramachihigasiiri, Nijodori, Hinokuchicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, 604-0912 Jpn: 〒604-0912 京都市中京区二条通河原町東入ル
Open Hours 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. *irregular breaks

A… pen?

A… pen?While this piece of stationery looks like a compact pen, when you take the top off…


It transforms into a pair of scissors!

This product is the Twiggy compact scissors. While scissors see quite a bit of use, they’re relatively big and hard to carry around in a pencil case. That’s where these come in. Despite their small, compact size, these scissors are sharp and have no problem cutting things. 

The scissors pictured above use a spring in the middle to help you cut (see this Tweet for reference). However, there are other types too, including one which you pull the wire handle to use. If you feel like you won’t know how to use any of them, then talk to one of the staff.

You can find these compact scissors at Stationery Store tag – Teramachi Sanjo

Price ¥800 (excl. tax)

Address 523-2 TenshōjimaechōNakagyō-ku, Kyoto, 604-8081
Open Hours 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

What could possibly go in these tiny envelopes?

Next on our list are teeny tiny envelopes.

Only 64 mm wide and 97 mm long, these envelopes are maybe just a tad too small to fit regular letters. 

tiny envelopes That’s because these envelopes, called “pochi-bukuro,” are actually for money!

In Japan, you’ll see these pochi-bukuro not just at stationery stires but convenience stores too!

These envelopes are most commonly used over the new year’s because in Japan there’s a tradition of adults giving kids money called “otoshidama.” And what could be better suited for giving kids money with than an appropriately sized tiny envelope.

If you give any of your Japanese friends a pochi-bukuro, you’ll be sure to see them fill with excitement.

Also, if you’re not the money giving type, then don’t worry, as these envelopes have a ton of other uses too, including holding itsy-bitsy message cards.

You can find these beautiful “hakuoshi” pochi-bukuro at ROKKAKU.

If you’re wondering what hakuoshi is, or want a pochi-bukuro so you too can give out otoshidama, then check out our ROKKAKU article! 

Gorgeously decorated envelops!

Gorgeously decorated envelops!Reminiscent of a gorgeous kimono, these envelopes are known as “noshi-bukuro.”

In the top right corner of the envelopes pictured above you’ll see knots and a piece of folded paper – these are called “noshi.”

Envelops which feature these noshi–appropriately named noshi-bukuro–are used in times of celebrations, such as weddings, to give gifts of money.

noshi-bukuroOriginally, the large center ribbon of these noshi-bukuro envelopes were tied in different ways depending on the occasion, however, nowadays you can find the ribbons tied in all kinds of cute ways

If you’re going to have the chance back home to give money, then why not give it in one of these beautiful Japanese-esque envelopes! 

You can find all kinds of colorful and unique noshi-bukuro at INOBUN Shijo Honten - Main store.

Price From ¥300

Address 26 Otabicho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu
Open Hours 11am - 9pm
Sakurako[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]
In this article, we looked at 5 pieces of stationery which you’d have no idea how to use just by looking at them. How many did you know? While you’ll be able to find many of these stationery items around Japan, Kyoto is home to a huge number of long-standing stationery shops and shops offering products with cool Kyoto-esque designs. In addition to the stores showcased above, check out the other stores in Sharing Kyoto’s stationery category and have a blast exploring the world of stationery in Kyoto!
Related keywords
Stationery All Kyoto Area

Page Top