A visit to Itoya in Ginza, one of Tokyo’s biggest stationery store

On our first night in Japan, we stayed at Daiwa Roynet in Ginza Tokyo. Itoya was a five-minute walk round the block. It really impressed me because the building takes up about 11 floors, and it’s full of all kinds of stationery that I could have ever imagine. Its selection was so wide that the notebooks and pens section were housed in an adjacent building. Most unfortunately, we arrived late and did not get a chance to checkout my favourite section of bookstores – the notebook and pen section. (I will be back next time!)

itoya ginza stationery tokyo
Can you tell the difference? I can’t.

Paper types and textures

itoya ginza stationery tokyo
The colour palate.

To be honest, none of the items at Itoya were things that I would have purchased. I would, if I had won the lottery and had lots of spare cash lying around, but some of these things were just too intensely specific. For example, there could be a dozen different kinds of paper with rough or embossed textures, of varying shades of white with varying levels of thickness. I think these papers would be useful for architecture models. Apparently they can be used for wedding cards and customised notebooks too. But wow!  The intensity of detail was frankly speaking, quite mind-blowing. It was like buying paint to paint one’s home.

visit to Itoya in Ginza
Varying shades of beige – it’s actually quite amazing how they managed to pair the colours together.
itoya ginza stationery tokyo
Types of notebook paper.
itoya ginza stationery tokyo
Paper ordered to specification. (Just too much)

Cards section

Some of the cards/ writing note pads were beautiful. They came with seemingly hand-drawn trees in watercolour. From the picture below, you can even see the gradient fading out. The greeting cards strangely reminded me of the film ‘Her’, where the antagonist composes letters for people who can’t write letters of a personal nature on their own. In a digital world soon to come, these greeting cards could all be customised and developed with a press of a button.

itoya ginza stationery tokyo
For writing letters to friends. Apparently writing physical letters is quite a thing in Japan.
itoya ginza stationery tokyo
Random jewellery at the store.

The Home section

I was curious to find out what was in the Home section of Itoya. It turned out to be some really expensive knick-knacks. Probably not worth talking about because I didn’t take pictures of them. That said, this New Yorker cover was super interesting and thought-provoking. Wished I had bought it for hanging up in my room. I really liked this cover because it depicts an amazing place to be in. In a room full of books where I can nerd out. With only the books I like (I like reading books but I learnt in life that there are many books not worth my time). And read all day without being disturbed. All that I ask for is a jug of water in the day and a bottle of wine at night. (The New Yorker had a different thinking for this cover though. It was supposed to depict a woman holding on to an e-book reader.)

itoya ginza stationery tokyo
If you’re thinking about the story behind this artwork, it’s an actual cover from The New Yorker titled – Tom Gauld’s “Fall Library”.

The Travelling Squid’s Take

Would I return for a visit to Itoya in Ginza? Well most definitely, to check out the section on notebooks and fountain pens. But probably not to the main building because the lift is pretty slow and things are expensive. That said, it was truly an eye-opener to the intensity of Japanese stationery stores. Like most things, they take details extremely seriously.

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