Posts Tagged ‘notebooks’

Stationery trends worth taking note of

Friday, March 16th, 2012

The start of the new school year in April makes this a great time for Japanese to indulge in their fetish for stationery. Despite increasing digitalization in the workplace, many people still relish the opportunity to write their kanji by hand and the market for notepads and pens is still remarkably healthy. In this post we take a look at a few stationery trends.

Heart shaped scotch tape holder

As usual kawaii (cuteness) is king and products such as  Nichiban’s new heart-shaped scotch tape holders, which can be hung from a school bag on a strap, look set to sell well among the back-to-school school set. But the grown-up female market is all about notebooks, according to Nikkei Trendy. Functionality and high quality are the watchwords here. One example being Midori’s to-do-list notepad from their Ojisan range, featuring little boxes that can be ticked once a task has been accomplished. The on the dot range of notepads by Maruai Select utilizes dots instead of ruled lines or squares and is a creative format, giving the option for users to write horizontally, vertically or use the space for making sketches.

A couple of years ago Ending Note notebooks were a hit with the elderly population, allowing them to write down useful information for relatives to use in the event of their death. The idea of using a notebook to store useful information in has been developed by Kokuyo who’ve brought out a notepad aimed at women that lets them record information about their relationships with other people. There is a space to write out your family tree, a place to record information about people you’ve met on social networks (useful for those who forget who all their Facebook “friends” are) and a place to record information on gifts you’ve received and gifts you ought to give.

King Jim's Shot Note app fuses analog and digital notetaking

Though notebooks are very nice, for those who use them regularly, they do tend to pile up, creating unwieldy mounds of unsorted information. Electronics manufacturer King Jim has come up with an app to solve this problem. Shot Note allows you to digitize and sort your analog notes by taking a photo with your smartphone and uploading it to a database. It automatically resizes the image, cutting off the space left at the corners of the paper and also adjusts the color to be easily read. The app has proved popular and downloads have now exceeded 1 million.

Some stationery makers are looking to the past for inspiration. Okimak, for instance, has revived the craft of kamiko, a waterproof material made from washi paper that has the look and feel of distressed leather. Made by crumpling washi so that it becomes soft and malleable, then coating the paper in tree sap to make it waterproof, Okimak makes really beautiful book covers and pen cases.

Death notebooks promise organized, happy endings

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

What would you get your dear old mum for her 60th birthday? A photo album of favorite family moments? A lovely plant for her garden? A last will and testament? Eh? Well, the tax accounting firm Iwayama Naoki Zeirishi Jimusho, which is selling the Life Design Book, a kind of cheap and cheerful alternative to drawing up a will with a solicitor, thinks it’s a lovely idea. “Those celebrating their 60th birthdays will be pleased to receive this,” reads the blurb.

Living and Ending is not just designed with the elderly in mind

“Ending notes” (エンディングノート) are basically notebooks that make the event of death or hospitalization a lot easier on relatives. As well as containing important information such as bank account details, it’s also possible to document who you want to inherit the family silver and to make requests about the kind of funeral service you’d like to have.

The notebooks started appearing around 2002 and since then a number of companies have got on the bandwagon, promising punters that using this simple document will take a great weight off their minds. They also claim that the process of filling out the notebooks is a positive experience. “Open hearted! Bright! Cheerful! This ending note is a pleasure to receive!” continues Iwayama Jimusho on their website, which insists that writing out their dying wishes will give aged parents a positive nostalgic feeling.

Stationery companies are not only setting their sights on the elderly, Kokuyo S&T Co Ltd. is releasing a new funky ending note on the market at the start of September. Called a “useful notebook for those ‘what if’ situations,” Kokuyo S&T’s product is illustrated with colorful manga and aimed not only at senior citizens, but customers over 30. Again, the emphasis is on the fun you’ll have filling in the pages.

If colorful cartoon characters aren’t enough to guide you through the process of drafting your last wishes, then Happy Ending Note, yet another company touting ending notes, run free seminars on how to fill in the book correctly.

Happy Ending Note’s “I Am Who I Am” costs ¥840, Kokuyo S&T’s “Living and Ending” is ¥1,470 and the trendy “Life Design Book” costs ¥2,100. If you’re thinking of giving this as a birthday present to a parent, it might be an idea to sweeten the pill with a box of chocs. At these prices it would churlish not to.


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