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I won’t lie, I love Japanese stationery. Sadly the closest I ever got to it was a few fruit-smelling erasers during primary school. I mean, granted, they were absolutely amazing, but after a little look at the list below it’s bound to make any stationery lover have a meltdown!
Anyway, now that I live in Japan I have access to some of the most impressive stationery I’ve ever come across. But for people who don’t (yet!) live in Japan, what are the best places to buy Japanese stationery online?
I’ve taken the time to personally vet each and every one of these sites to make sure they have the best stock, service, and experience you could ask for while buying Japanese stationery. So get your wallets at the ready, these places are awesome!
Is Japan famous for stationery?
Quick Vocabulary lesson: Stationery – Bunbōgu (文房具)
Japan is a country that prides itself on perfection, in some ways at least.
Handwriting is still seen as an important skill in today’s digital landscape, and as we’ve seen before, analog bureaucracy is here to stay for a while yet. I’m sadly reminded of the time I had to wait over 3 hours for a signature at my local government office here in Japan…
Because of this, stationery companies continuously compete for consumers’ attention and money. This means they have to be at the top of their game in terms of innovation, marketing, and user experience (especially because Japanese people prefer shopping in actual shops than they do online).
All you have to do is visit Itoya in the Ginza district of Tokyo to see how incredibly seriously these stationery companies take their job.
With that said, as we’ve seen with the rest of Japan’s Outdated Technology, the shift towards digital working has seen Japanese stationery sales continue on a downward trend for the last decade. So, many of these shops now provide a website and offer their products to a wider audience.
Why does Japan have the best stationery?
Its innovative, quality designs have stood the test of time and its cute designs have garnered a worldwide appreciation and an almost cult-like following.
As we learned in the $22,500 melon article, Japanese citizens have come to expect the best, so there’s really no other possible way for the companies to operate other than providing the absolute best stationery in the world.
Is stationery cheaper in Japan?
Whilst it’s honestly not that expensive to order high-quality authentic Japanese stationery from the comfort of your sofa, it will tend to be cheaper in Japan.
This is largely because of shipping fees, Japanese proxy buying platforms, and ‘convenience’ tax.
To buy quality stationery in Japan, you need only to venture to the nearest Daiso shop (¥100), or even a local convenience store!
This is a photo I took from my local family mart, packed full of Japanese stationery. You could enter any family mart and you’ll always find a load of Muji bits. I’m pretty sure they have a collaboration with them?
Unfortunately (or not?) when you buy online, you’re stuck with specialty buyers.
How can I order stationery from Japan?
One of the simplest and quickest ways to order stationery from Japan is to use Amazon. It’s not technically a Japanese stationery store, but they stock a lot of bits from Japanese sellers and resellers. It is possible you’ll pay a bit of a premium for that convenience, so that’s something you’ll have to weigh up.
Simply type ‘Japanese Stationery’ into the search bar and you’ll be presented with a page that looks like this. More on that later!
Now, onto the list!
1. The Journal Shop
Website: thejournalshop.com <- 15% off your first purchase when you use this link!
‘The Journal Shop’ is an online Japanese stationery store based out of the UK that ships worldwide.
According to its creators, the entire site is ‘Deeply inspired by our trips to Japan and our affection for their craftsmanship and culture’ and it’s extremely easy to see this when browsing the many items for sale.
They do, however, have a specific section on the website entirely dedicated to Japanese stationery.
That’s what I’m interested in!
Once you’ve navigated yourself toward this section, you’ll be greeted by a large page filled to the brim with stationery from Japan.
If you’re looking for genuine quality stationery used in Japan and you don’t want to mess around with third-party buyers, this is the site for you.
Having said that, it does still feature one or two Kawaii items, namely the Convenience Store Erasers. I don’t write very much on paper anymore, but damn I want these!!
Website: Amazon – Japanese Stationery
Once again Amazon rears its face in one of my Japanese shopping lists, yet it’s not the Japanese version I’m talking about here.
All you have to do is type ‘Japanese Stationery’ into the amazon search bar and you’ll be given a page like this.
That’s the US page, but I’m sure if you type it into the search bar if you live somewhere else that you’ll more than likely to stumble across something similar.
SO MUCH CUTENESS!!!
In fact, Amazon has recently made its very own Japanese shop. Not specific a specific Japanese stationery store but extremely interesting to look around if you’re as interested in products from Japan as I clearly am!
It’s a fantastic curation of Japanese products from bigger companies as well as small, boutique craftspeople.
Have a look around and you’re bound to find something you fancy.
At least, I know I am!
3. TOKYU HANDS
Yes, I know I know. This isn’t a picture of a website to buy Japanese stationery from, but it is a Japanese chain store that does have a great website to buy from! Although I’m still a little bitter about their rebranding to ‘Hands’ due for completion in 2024, I can’t have this list without the Tokyu Hands Japanese stationery store.
To make things a little more simple, I’ll link you to the search page for stationery.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to type ‘stationery’ into the search bar in Japanese (文房具)
You’ll need to translate the page to English, but not through the website (because that takes you to a different page for some reason). I use Safari which comes with an in-built translation tool that works most of the time. On the rare occasions that it doesn’t, Chrome comes to the rescue.
After it’s translated, it’ll look a little something like this:
It might sound a little confusing, but the site does offer some easy ways to pay.
As you can see from the popup it’s a similar situation to the other online Japanese stores where they work with a proxy company to deliver around the world.
That means there’s no need for a Japanese address, though one day I WILL have one! (As of 2023, I have one! ^_^)
A bonus of ordering somewhere like this is you’ll always be getting the newest gear that typically won’t be available anywhere else.
Unless you live in Japan, but if you’re reading this list then I doubt that’s the case!
Ahhh Muji, my favorite online Japanese store.
Come to think of it, it’s probably my favorite physical Japanese stationery store too (in the UK), after the Japan center in London. That place has so much tasty food…
Muji is a great place to shop if you’re looking for a simple ordering and delivery experience that’s available pretty much anywhere in the world.
The shop sells a lot more than just stationery, but they do have a specific stationery section that’s nothing to be sniffed at.
While there may be a few more ‘authentic’ stationery products from some of the other websites, Muji is the place to shop if you’re looking for that minimalist Japanese style.
And let’s be honest, I know that’s why most of you are here!
I’ve done a full (or at least more in-depth than this one) write-up of the online Muji store and clothing department if that’s something of interest to you.
5. Tofu Cute
I imagine the reason a lot of you clicked on this search result was that you hoped to find a quintessentially Japanese stationery store.
Well, we’ve already gone over the minimalism approach, now it’s kawaii time!!!
We already know Japan loves cute things, but what about stationery?
Just look at those erasers!
And whilst the shop offers free UK delivery, it also ships to anywhere in the world so my friends from across the pond won’t feel left out! 😉
6. Japan Stationery
If you’re looking for the best of the best in Japanese stationery, this is the website you need to visit.
‘Japan Stationery’ is (believe it or not) a Japanese stationery store devoted to sourcing bespoke and luxury stationery products exclusive to them.
They also work with small independent Washi paper masters that literally grow their own plants to make the Washi (Japanese Paper) from scratch.
Take a look at their about page if you’re interested in learning more.
Among other things, you’ll find the most prominent item on the website is, of course, the Washi Paper.
In all the colors and designs you could think of, they stock some truly incredible pieces of work that are bound to fulfill your needs, whether for a gift or just because you love handmade Washi paper!
A cute yet sophisticated online Japanese stationery store that imports products from Japan, Korea, and Europe.
One thing I love about this site is the variety of items it stocks.
It has a load of cute products, but they aren’t as ‘cliche’ as some of the other options on the list.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I love clichéd items as much as the next person, but a lot of these have more of a ‘refined’ cute Japanese feel rather than a crazy one.
They have a wide selection of Washi tape, notebooks, stickers, journals, and other stationery essentials that are begging to decorate your home office with their sweet designs!
8. Notebook Therapy
Everything you’ll find at ‘Notebook Therapy’ is extremely aesthetically pleasing.
I mean sure, it’s more important to have high-quality products (which I’m sure these are), but who doesn’t love buying Japanese products purely for the way they look!?
As well as having an incredibly beautiful portfolio of products to offer in their catalog, this Japanese stationery store also has things like bags, diffusers, and phone cases.
It’s truly a website that caters to everyone!
Not only do they have a following of over 1M people on Instagram, they also employ an extremely eco-conscious working policy that helps make a difference around the world.
Just take a look at this page to see everything they’re doing for the planet.
If that’s not reason enough to buy from them, then I don’t know what is!
9. Tokyo Pen Shop
I’ll give you three guesses about what this shop stocks…
Nope, it’s not noodles!
Tokyo Pen Shop is a Japanese stationery store online that was created with the intention to bring fine Japanese stationery to those who can’t readily access it.
If you’re a Japanese language beginner or have been studying it for a while, you’ll know how precise some of those annoying kanji can be.
So what does a complicated Kanji need to be properly written? A fine and precise pen.
And as it says on the website, ‘The quest for the perfect pen began’.
So if you’re after a technical or specific sort of pen from Japan (or for your Japanese studies) Tokyo Pen Shop is probably a good option.
You can also purchase notebooks too, so no excuse not to be studying!
P.S. If you’re on a computer, (or a Japanese laptop) hover your mouse over the little hedgehog in the pen pot, it’s the cutest little animation!