Japan is a wonderland for stationery lovers. I recently spent the most precious 12 days travelling solo through Tokyo, Kyoto and Takayama and came back with like a suitcase full of stationery.
I did a lot of online research before going and then hunted down every single store on my must-go list. So if you're going to Tokyo, these are my best recommendations.
1. Traveler's Factory (meguro)
This is the flagship store of Traveler's Company (earlier called Midori) who are know for the legendary Traveler's Notebook (a leather-cover journal with interchangeable inserts and many accessories). I have been using a non-leather TN for some time and am the biggest fan of the whole aesthetic created by TN users, so this place was basically like pilgrimage for me. Honestly, I still cherish how happy it felt to finally be there.
I was afraid the products would be too costly, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the prices were much cheaper than what you encounter online. I ended up buying a lot more than I had anticipated, which is basically the story of my life.
They also have a small cafe upstairs which sells coffee and some basic food-items. Like a fool, I did not have my TN with me when I went there or I would have spent some time journaling there.
Don't miss the stamping station where you can put beautiful travel-themed stamps on your newly-bought merchandise (or anything else)
How to get there: The flagship store is walking distance from Nakameguro station , but they also have a smaller well-stocked outlet at Narita Airport. So if you don't have much time in Tokyo, you can definitely drop by the Airport store. A third store at Tokyo Station is opening soon.
2. Itoya (Ginza)
Itoya is one of the biggest stationery chains in Japan and their Ginza store is a 7-floor wonderland. Each floor has a different theme. They stock a lot of different things from planners to stamps, to paper to pens. It's also a more thoughtful selection than most stores.
What I loved the most was this mind-blowing pin-ball like installation at the entrance, made entirely out of stationery items with a ball running through it. They also have a cafe on the top floor.
How to get there: They have chains in many cities across Japan. The flagship store in Ginza (called G.Itoya) is on the main Ginza street (THE glitziest street in Japan lined with couture stores) and walkable from the Ginza station. I walked from the station to Muji and Loft and then to Itoya and had myself a super stationery day.
3. Tokyu Hands (Shibuya)
This is also one of the big chains present across cities in Japan. They're like the Staples of Japan. Also a several-storied one, the flagship store is in Shibuya. They stock literally every type of stationery you can imagine and large varieties of it. I spent an hour here and regret not having more time.
If you need a planner, this is the place to go (unless you want a TN, in which case, go to Traveler's Factory of course). They have more variety than you can possibly check out. Eg., one big rack was full of inserts for a pocket-sized planner with covers, notebooks, a ruler insert, a calendar insert etc.. So you can just stand there, mix and match everything you need and walk out with a completely custom pocket planner tailored to your needs.
4. Bunbougu Cafe (Omotesando)
Ok I need you to sit down for this one. So this is a… STATIONERY CAFE. They have a small stationery-selling section and the rest is a cafe where people sit and draw, journal, write, whatever.
I went here on a nice afternoon and spent at least two hours buying stationery, sipping coffee and of course, making this spread:
Oh and if you get a membership here, you get access to the locked drawers present at every table which is filled with pencils and colours and other stationery!
How to get there: It's in Omotesando, but walking distance (through a nice street lined with cafes and restaurants) from Meiji-Jingu metro station.
5. Other note-worthy spots in Tokyo
Has many stores all across Tokyo. I went to the one next to Shinjuku station and they had a lot of washi tape varieties and other Instax-related things like photo albums.
But my favourite part was automatic photo-printing stations where you connect your phone (or Digicam), select the photos you want to print, enter some coins and get instant prints! God I love Japan.
Muji of course sells a lot more than stationery but I picked up a lot of basic stuff from here that you have to either hunt down, or settle for ugly varieties, in India, like brown folders, empty bottles for storing ink, blank brown postcards, pens for gifting etc.
But the best part was their stamping station (at the Chuo store) where you can stamp what you've bought. I stamped some blank postcards that my friends loved.
San Sa Ka, Shimokitazawa
Shimokitazawa is a bit away from central Tokyo but worth going to. It's called the hipster district of Tokyo. This small shop had the most beautiful products from a carefully curated set of artists and designers.