We've long heard about Taroko notebooks, made with fountain pen friendly Tomoe River paper, and this past summer we finally brought them in. We just got another shipment of them in this week, so I thought now was as good a time as any to share a few more details about the line.

Taroko makes a variety of Traveler's Notebook inserts in all sorts of rulings (including dotted!) and in both the regular and passport sizes, which have been quite popular, but of particular note are the Breeze and Enigma Notebooks, which are A5 and a smaller A6 notebooks that are nice and thick.

The Breeze is thinner at 183 pages, and the Enigma is thicker at 384 pages, both of these are bound in multiple signatures.

Because the pages are so thin, relative to the notebook's size, you get a lot of pages, and there's some heft to each notebook, which I love. The binding also allows the notebook to lay flat.

Taroko Enigma Breeze Toronto
Top Breeze, bottom Enigma
Taroko Enigma Breeze Toronto

The dotted Enigma (thicker) and the dotted Breeze (thinner) both feature five pages for ink swabs at the back, which is a great idea for people like who are constantly inking up pens and then forgetting what ink they have in them. These also have page numbers, and at the beginning of both are two index pages, like a table of contents.

The blank Enigma is completely blank, with none of these features.

Taroko Enigma Breeze Toronto Index Page
Taroko Enigma Breeze Toronto Fountain Pen Friendly Tomoe River Notebook
Diamine Ochre Writing Sample Tomoe River Paper

Tomoe River paper is quite thin, similar in nature to onion skin or Bible paper, but, magically, also extremely fountain pen friendly. You can use all sorts of broad and inky pens on it - Tomoe River paper holds up well. It's smooth, and also - a trait that some people can give or take - can get a bit crinkly as you put ink on it and the more you turn the pages. The crinkly bit is actually one of my favourite parts about the paper, and once you fill a notebook like this, there's a very deep sense of satisfaction at all the words on those pages. One of my favourite things in life is both receiving or sealing up a long letter of several sheets of Tomoe River, and feeling its weight and how the pages crinkle ever so slightly into the envelope.

One aspect of Tomoe River paper that you need to remember is that there's some show through onto the back of the page, where you can see what you wrote on the other side. It's not a problem to write on both sides, as the ink isn't typically bleeding through, but you can see some ghosting on the back, especially if you're holding it up against the light. This is less of a problem for notebooks than it is for letters, although if it read it flat against your a desk, it really becomes no problem at all.

The other thing to keep in mind is that dry times can be long. To remedy this, you can put a sheet of blotting paper in between pages that have been recently written on, so as you close, the ink doesn't touch the facing page. One sheet will last you many, many moons, and take on a rainbow of the various inks and hues you've used.

One of my all-time favourite pens used for the writing sample, the Pilot Custom 74 with a soft medium nib.
Taroko Enigma Breeze Toronto Fountain Pen Friendly Tomoe River Notebook
I'm nearing the end of my first Traveler's Notebook insert that I'm using to record "notes" and quotes from books I'm reading, and I've got a Taroko insert queued up to try out next. More on that soon!
Taroko Enigma Breeze Toronto Fountain Pen Friendly Tomoe River Notebook

The Breeze and Enigma notebooks filled a big gap in our notebook selection, and we're glad to have them here. Where we had previously carried staple bound, thinner notebooks made from Tomoe River, but not something more substantial - Tomoe River paper being notoriously difficult to bind through conventional machines due to its thinness - these notebooks have the heft and quantity of pages for people looking for a more serious commitment. 

Once I'm done my Stalogy notebook for my journal, I'm planning on trying out the Taroko Breeze. I've been using my Midori A5 Skin of the Goat cover for a few years (I always need to put the caveat that it starts out a whitish pink, but it does warm up after some use: I'm due for another update, but here it is after a year) and was advised that the Enigma would be too thick, so I should go with the Breeze. The thinner notebook has the additional advantage of a more frequent feeling of productivity and satisfaction at filling a notebook.

In any case, we've got a fresh shipment of these beauties in. I love pen and ink shipments, but there is something more visceral and tactile about the nature of boxes filled with pristine, smooth stacks of brand new notebooks. There's a certain smell, a certain weight (goodness knows the postage will tell you that), but there's just something about the immediacy of knowing that it's these very pages that I'm holding in my hand, these pages that will be filled up.


In other news, I forge on in the emotional labour of Christmas shopping, a task Jon seems to have washed his hands of many years ago. I bear the burden of facing the yearly dilemma of whether or not I gift gifts from our shop to our family and friends who year-round suffer indulgently the conversations about taxes and shipping headaches and broken ink bottles.

On the one hand, how could I not think the things I love (and sell) would not be equally loved by people who seem to appreciate all my own personal quirks? The insider scoop on the latest releases! An expert opinion on the best goods!

On the other hand, well.

And so for you and me and all of us still in the throngs of finding just the right gift to express all that we want to give to those we love, I leave you with one of my favourite photos of Caleb. This is from a couple of years back now, when we were at the old shop, and reflects both Caleb at that time, but also all of us during this crazy holiday season: shoes on the wrong feet, toppling towers of all the things we need to get done, and a little festive excitement.


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December 12, 2018 — wonderpens



Aldo said:

Great post as always, thank you for sharing.

Michael Simon

Michael Simon said:

Wonderful photo?. If I ever get to Toronto, I’m going to feel as if I’m seeing long lost friends—I have so enjoyed watched the growth of children, pets, and the shops? Liz, you have such a gift for making your readers feel part of the ‘larger’ family of Wonder Pens. Best wishes for Christmas and the new year.

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