So we're heading off to Japan at the end of the month. With two weeks left until we fly out, the countdown is on, and the to do list is long.

We'll be in Japan for a few weeks, and then heading to Hong Kong for a few more weeks. The big question is, of course, what stationery supplies I’m bringing with me.

(I sometimes wonder about what I’m writing on the blog, if it’s too granular or just prattling on about pens or the minutiae of life, but I love hearing about what stationery people are using, especially when they’re traveling, so here I am.)

1. Traveler’s Notebook with a few inserts: the dated, a lightweight paper and a kraft paper, as well as the zipper case. More on that in Part 2 to come.

2. Glue stick for glueing things into notebooks on the road, maybe a few crafts.

3. Washi tape for taping in things into notebooks, emergencies like glasses falling apart or distracting children.

4. Fountain pens! I’m bringing:
TWSBI 580 ALR EF nib, with Blue Upon the Plains of Abraham (a permanent ink)
TWSBI Mini-Orange, fine nib, with Diamine Ochre
Safari All-Black, fine nib, filled up with Kobe No.59 Hiranogion Romance Grey
Vista, EF nib, filled up with J. Herbin Vert de gris

I’m normally a medium-broad person, although I have found myself using fine nibs more and more. Extra fines are definitely not a usual choice for me, but on the road, a faster dry time is nice.

The plan is, for some variety, to leave Canada with four pens, each filled up with four inks, and then on the road as they’re written dry, I’ll refill from the bottles. Journaling, note-taking in meetings, a few postcards.

5. And I’m bringing some extra ink along:
J. Herbin Cafe des iles
Kobe No. 7 Kaikyo Blue
Sailor Four Seasons Doyou

Here are the ink swabs of the inks I’m bringing. It’s on the kraft paper insert, so they look slightly different than they would on white paper. That Cafe des iles on the top right looks a bit like sheen, but it’s both the quality of the paper, and a not quite dry swab.

6. A pack of Lamy blue-black cartridges for emergencies.

7. A Caran d’ache ballpoint. I may actually pack along a few more disposable gel pens and ballpoints, or felt-tip pens in different colours, because both kids enjoy scribbling or doodling, and it’s a good distraction in a pinch. Naomi is 1.5 yrs, and can be impressively focused on capping and uncapping pens, or clicking retractable pens.

8. Pencils: some Blackwings, a few Mitsubishis. This is definitely more pencils than I personally need, but I will also have Caleb and Naomi, and while Caleb is now old enough to pack and bring his own supplies, I’m bringing a few extra for a long train ride or before bedtime writing. Perhaps the bigger danger is not writing a pencil all the way to its nub, but rather losing one under the train seat. Caleb will also be bringing a few workbooks along to practise a bit of his printing and reading over the summer. Or rather, I will be bringing a few workbooks that Caleb will be writing in.

9. Eraser.

10. Sharpener.

11. & 13. Sticky memo notes from Midori, which are great for lists, notes, “don’t forget...” on the door before we head out, or sticking to tables at a restaurant to keep a baby busy. I also like the stickiness because I can stick something temporary into a notebook or a book without worrying about it falling out when I’m moving from one place to another. Great for bookmarks, jotting something down and then sticking it onto a page to hold space for later, sticking onto Jon’s laptop screen so he can’t miss it. I could go on endlessly about how much I enjoy sticky notes in life.*

12. Where would I be without a good index card? These ones are from Nock Co. I use them when I need something a bit sturdier—not necessarily permanent, but not just a throwaway list. For example, if I’m writing notes for a blog post, I want a card that I can tuck in different places and pull out when I need it. I am a big fan of the index card.

14. Spare Traveler’s Notebook inserts: one kraft, one lightweight paper.

15. Superior Labor Pen and Wallet Case, my anticipated daily carry, with maybe two fountain pens and a gel pen, along with cards, cash, transit.

16. Tools to Live By pen case for loose items: washi tape, scissors, cartridges, q-tips, spare pens, etc. We carry this case in the studio shop, should be coming to the website soon.

17. The Life airmail notepad and envelopes are for some (too ambitious?) plans to keep on with a few treasured correspondents, from either Japan where the pace will be a bit more hectic, or more likely from Hong Kong, where the hope is things will slow down a little.

18. There is nothing in life like a pair of sharp scissors. Cutting paper, opening packages, trimming threads.

19. Brass sheets. What can I say, I like my pens wet, and I’m hoping to pick up at least a pen or two.

20. Q-tips. Cleaning pen caps and perhaps other tight spaces.

We’re about two weeks out from our departure, and there may very well be additional items added or adjusted. I’m still working on Caleb’s stationery items. Pencil crayons, pencils, scissors, stickers, workbooks, his own Traveler’s Notebook—his own set of tools to bring. Naomi will likely get a little case of her own as well, as there’s only so much refereeing one can do in life. (Also: gotta start ‘em young.)

The temptation is to go as minimal as possible, and spend three weeks buying all of the pens and stationery in Japan, but this is a business trip, I swear.

We start off with a few days at the Japanese stationery trade show, then throughout the next couple of weeks, we’ve got meetings set up with some of our favourite vendors, including factory tours and visits, heading to different parts of Japan to visit different companies. We’re a tiny shop, and yet the famous Japanese hospitality is already making us welcome, with assistance in booking train tickets, translators, dinner plans. We are thrilled and nervous to consider what an honour and privilege it is to see such a side of Japan, and I can’t wait to share more. Our itinerary is about as booked as we can schedule it with two kids, while also trying to squeeze in a little time to see Japan. I have a few stationery shops earmarked on my list, but of course there’s more to Japan than just stationery.**

That’s all to say, I’ll be gone for about two months, so I’ve been waffling a little bit between bringing a skeleton set and hoping to pick up a few treats while I’m there (“few”), and also bringing enough in case we don’t get as much time to visit quite as many shops as I’d hoped and still having enough tools and supplies to keep me and the kids busy. While we’ll be busy in Japan, Hong Kong also has its share of stationery shops as well, so I won’t be far from help in a stationery emergency.

In any case, Part 1 is mostly what I’m bringing, but stay tuned for Part 2, which will go through how I’m planning to use it all: my Traveler’s Notebook set-up, blogging plans, getting organized. All likely to change on the road, but who am I without plans to abandon.


In other news, the Toronto Raptors have won another game in the NBA finals, which makes them one game away from winning the whole thing for the first time in Toronto Raptors history. I have never really been a sports person—not necessarily anti-sports, but more of a bring-a-book-to-the-ball-game kind of person. I admittedly get a bit teary-eyed watching the Olympics, but that’s more of a warm and fuzzy pride feeling.

And yet, here I am, feeling astonished at my own patriotism and chest pounding as I watch really tall men throw a ball around. The other day, Caleb came home from kindergarten and asked me if I knew who Kyle Lowry is. I ask him if he knew who Kyle Lowry was. He nodded solemnly. When the Raptors won last night’s game, we had our windows open in the apartment, and we could hear cheers coming in from the street.

That’s all to say, Toronto’s feeling like a pretty great city right now. Spring moving into summer, laundry out in the breeze, shops doors open, Raptors inching their way forward, shop cats looking down on us all.

*One of the most painful things in life is to look over and see one of your children energetically tearing off one sheet at a time from your pad of sticky notes, dozens strewn about on the floor around them.

**Jury’s still out. I’ll let you know when I get back.

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Bridget said:

Bring only a tiny notebook and a single pen for on the plane – and a huge empty suitcase to fill with all your new acquisitions you pick up there!!!

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