Let’s Go: Bookbinder’s Trail Tokyo (Part 2)

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Everywhere is accessible on the train – Tokyo for crafters, paper artists and bookbinders.

Where to go? What to see?

..and what if you only have time for one place?

This is a follow-up to my earlier Bookbinder’s Trail Tokyo (Part 1).

If you are a bookbinding enthusiast, Tokyo offers great shopping and sightseeing. Paper, stationery, art and craft supplies and beautiful designs — the city is a universe in itself, unlike anything anywhere else.

This post features:
• Origami Kaikan
• Shimojima
• Tanaka Washi
• Ozu Washi
• Haibara
• Maruzen/World Antiquarian Book Plaza
• Takeo
• Kakimori
• Gekkoso
• Okadaya

Let’s go!

10 more places for bookbinding enthusiasts in Tokyo

1) Origami Kaikan

Wonder at the art of origami at this “museum”. Go upstairs and check out the gallery.

Take a peek too at the workspace where the guys are making origami paper — one of them will offer a quick show-and-tell.

Then go to the retail shop for Japanese paper (so many!) and origami kits and accessories.

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http://www.origamikaikan.co.jp/info/e_us.html

2) Shimojima

This eight-storey main store for Shimojima, located right at Asakusabashi metro station exit A4 (next to Mizuho bank), is a large stationery and household goods shop.

The Asakusabashi area — not to be confused with Asakusa where the temple with the giant red lantern is — is known as a wholesale district. You will see few tourists here.

Shimojima’s prices are accordingly mass-market. Although the selection of Japanese paper is somewhat limited, I am absolutely delighted with the white-on-white cranes and super-white hemp leaf patterned papers I bought here.

Tons of stationery, gifts and origami paper. The place to load up on gifts.

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Shimojima (sign in Japanese only) is next to Mizuho Bank (blue sign) at Asakusabashi Metro Exit A4.

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Japanese paper is on second floor.

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http://www.shimojima.co.jp/eng/index.html

3) Tanaka Washi

My favourite paper store in Fukuoka, and now in Tokyo!

This place looks like a wholesaler but walk-ins are welcome too. Great variety, great prices. Also paper goods.

I love the laidback, make-yourself-at-home-and-let-me-know-when-you-are-done service style.

Go to the main store opposite the Torigoe Shrine on the main road of Kuramae-bashi Dori. This Tanaka Washi is within walking distance from Shimojima, although it is closer to Kuramae metro stop.

There’s another Tanaka Washi store next to Asakusabashi metro station.

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Tanaka Washi store on Kuramae-bashi Dori.

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Tanaka Washi store on Kuramae-bashi.

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Tanaka Washi store on Kuramae-bashi.

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Tanaka Washi store on Kuramae-bashi.

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Where do I stop?

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Asakusabashi shop with 田中和纸 (Tanaka Washi) blue banner sign. Looking south from the shop, you will see Asakusabashi station (yellow structure at the far end in this photo).

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Tanaka Washi Asakusabashi shop – same great selection.

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Tanaka Washi Asakusabashi shop.

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Tanaka Washi Asakusabashi shop.

http://www.tanakawashi.com/index.php

4) Ozu Washi

I was in awe of everything at Ozu Washi — a champion of Japanese paper and a “destination” paper place with a history that dates back to 1653.

You know this place is serious when you see Mulberry and other paper-producing trees planted at the entrance.

There is a papermaking workshop/demo area, a large store selling the most complete range of Japanese papers I have ever seen, a museum, a gallery, stock showcase with details of their makers, classrooms — the works! But with few tourists, the place is serene as a temple.

Craft, industry, education, retail, history.

After visiting Ozu Washi, you can see why Japanese paper has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. And why paper masters are regarded as national treasures in Japan.

If you only have time to visit one paper place in Tokyo, this is it.

Exit A6 of Mitsukoshimae metro stop.

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Look out for this advertisement at Mitsukoshimae metro station. Note the map.

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Look for the trees – Kozo (Broussonetia kazinoki x B. papyrifera), Mitsumata (Edgeworthia papyrifera) and others.

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This is Kozo (Mulberry).

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Lace paper, or “Rakusuishi” (落水纸).

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Upstairs, showcase of paper samples…

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…get to know the individual paper makers. You know exactly the who, what, when, where and how the paper is made.

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Upstairs, the museum.

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Ozu Washi is depicted in this woodblock print — far end on the right row of shops.

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Ozu Washi Museum exhibit.

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Ozu Washi Museum exhibit.

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Class in progress: “Painting with Japanese paper”.

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Paper for art, lighting and clothes!

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Masterpiece in paper!

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Black inks that bleed into various hues!

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You can test writing/drawing with pen or ink on various paper samples — to see how each paper reacts.

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http://www.ozuwashi.net/en/

5) Haibara

First-class paper shop! Everything at this shop in Nihonbashi says quality and refinement.

Reflecting the exacting standards of corporate Japan (Nihonbashi is the earliest financial district of Japan), Haibara has taken the business of selling paper to a whole new level.

The standalone shop is clad in one of Haibara’s proprietary print designs, an architectural feature that won it a Good Design Japan Award in 2016.

In business since 1806, Haibara is a paper shop at the top of its game. I love everything they do and bought a little book about the company and some stationery here.

Walk from exit B6 at Nihonbashi metro station.

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Look for this building. There is no English signage. Check out the window displays.

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That chequered paper on the wall is the inspiration for the building’s “skin”.

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Knots — some quite elaborate — are customary in Japanese gift-wrapping. Tortoise (left) and crane.

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The wall behind the counter is an art piece with the shop logo at the centre.

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Haibara’s proprietary chrysanthemum design, available in several colourways.

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http://www.haibara.co.jp/en/

6) Maruzen (Nihonbashi branch)

Visit this book store across the street from Haibara for the World Antiquarian Book Plaza on the third floor.

If you love old books — illuminated manuscripts, first editions, antique illustrations — come check out the great tomes from all over the world here. All for sale.

Look closely, slowly. And you will understand why people collect old books.

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You can see a spot where the vellum has been scraped. An error corrected!

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https://www.facebook.com/WorldAntiquarianBookPlaza/

7) Takeo

Talk about the “wow” factor!

This “shrine” to paper is amazing. Its all-white, high-shine decor is like a set in a science fiction film.

You will find paper from mills from all over the world — and not a single sheet of Chiyogami paper.

All colours, all textures. Go through them in the long trough tables.

Remember to go upstairs to look at the exhibition, featuring creative works by Japan’s paper artists and bookbinders.

The Takeo Paper Show is the company’s headline exhibition.

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Upstairs at an exhibition.

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Upstairs at an exhibition.

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Upstairs at an exhibition.

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Upstairs at an exhibition.

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You can buy some bookbinding tools and books from the publisher Misuzudo upstairs too.

http://www.takeo.co.jp/en/

8) Kakimori

This is a small shop where you can choose a cover design, text paper and fastener from the menu and then have the staff wire-O bound everything into a customised notebook.

Also pens, inks, pencils and accessories.

Closest metro stop: Kuramae.

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It’s the shop with the tree in front of it.

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All the great pencil brands, including Japanese ones from Mitsubishi, Tombow and Gekkoso.

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http://www.kakimori.com/

And if you want more…

9) Gekkoso

No bookbinding here but this hole-in-the-wall art supply shop just around the corner from Shiseido Gallery in Ginza is world-famous.

It’s been selling art supplies since 1917. They still manufacture their own pigments, drawing pads, stationery and accessories.

The French newspaper Le Monde called its Cobalt Violet Gekkoso Pink oil paint (winner of the first prize at the World Oil Colour Competition 1971) “a miracle that occurred outside of France”.

Gekkoso’s sketch books and aluminum palette for watercolour are winners of Japan Good Design Award 2008 and 2014.

Check out its tiny gallery and one-table café in the basement.

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Look out for this sign at this dark brick building.

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Basement at Gekkoso. The wall is full of postcards sent by fans from around the world. You can buy pads of watercolour postcards at Gekkoso.

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Basement at Gekkoso – coffee available!

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8B pencils – great for sketching!

http://gekkoso.jp/

10) Okadaya

If you want to buy fabrics instead of paper for bookbinding, make your way to Okadaya in Shinjuku.

It’s located in two self-facing buildings – one for fabrics, the other, accessories and tools.

Textile/craft fans will have a field day. Bookbinders can buy ribbons, threads, needles and whatever strikes their fancy.

The sign on the building is in Japanese characters only – so you need to remember the four characters オカダヤ. The English sign is visible only if you are in front of the shop. So keep your eyes peeled if you are walking from the labyrinthine Shinjuku station.

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It’s that building with that tall red sign. This is the accessories building. Another building (alley on the left) is all fabrics.

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Signage for accessories and tools building. Big store!

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Signage for fabrics building.

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Let’s look at what’s suitable for bookbinding…

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Cats are really big in Japan. You find them everywhere on everything.

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Synthetic is better!

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Indigo fabric – great for bookbinding.

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Over at the accessories and tools building…

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It IS possible to make a book out of crocodile skin!

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Embroidery threads from Cosmo – Do you want Tumeric Gold, Chrysanthemum Gold or Honey Gold?

http://www.okadaya.co.jp/

•••

Epilogue: Chiyogami and Yuzen

You will come across these two names frequently.

Chiyogami 千代紙  refers to Japanese paper printed with rich, traditional patterns, a relative of, but distinct art form from, woodblock printing.

Yuzen 友禪紙 refers to the type of very dense, Japanese patterns that is named after the Edo-era artist (Yuzensai Miyazaki, 1634-1736, Kyoto) whose lavish designs were originally handpainted onto fabrics. These designs were subsequently reproduced widely through stencil-dyeing by the textile industry on fans, kimonos, and obi sashes. When these elaborate Yuzen patterns are printed on paper, the paper is called Chiyogami.

The two terms are used interchangeably now to refer to Japanese papers printed with traditional designs.

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•••

See also Part 1 of my Tokyo Bookbinder’s Trail featuring:

• Tokyu Hands
• Sekaido
• Itoya
• Kyukyodo
• Kurodaya
• Parco Book Center & NADiff
• Wrapple

Do you have a favourite place or a bookbinding activity to recommend? Do share!

•••

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