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I have a theory about the outsized popularity of stationery in Japan. Because children are forced to keep summer diaries between school semesters through elementary school, they’re inculcated in short-form, longhand writing from an early age. By the time they’re adults, writing into notebooks becomes a sentimental activity.

That said, nothing accounts for the recent proliferation of magazines about stationery. According to marketing heads at DesignPhil (one of Japan’s biggest stationery manufacturers), these magazines are sometimes more popular than the stationery it advertises. That’s right. Consumer magazines. About pen and paper…

Exhibit A: Girly Stationery for Adults—Cute!

It’s always good to identify your market in the title. Hello, ladies.

Exhibit B: Great Stationery

The title is sugoi bungu. Sugoi can mean great, or amazing, in the right context. This looks less “amazing” and simply “notable” (pun intended).

Exhibit C: Pen

Pen, y’all. Period. This is the magazine equivalent of saying “done and done.”

Anne Ishii is a full-time writer and strategist based in New York City. She is currently developing a professional mentorship company called Salt and Pepper.

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