The Art of Packaging

Yesterday I received perhaps the most tastefully packaged online order ever.

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It’s almost seven years since I left Japan, and I had forgotten that this kind of art was still possible. No scuffed brown cardboard, no Scotch tape, no bubble wrap, but everything still pristine and crease-free. It almost feels as if you picked it up yourself in a shop.

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These are color pencils designed to fit within the covers of the Hobonichi Techo. Death by cuteness!

Tomoe River Paper

After I ordered the 2015 Hobonichi Planner (good intro here at Lexikaliker) from their web shop, I became curious as to what kind of company makes this notoriously hard-to-find paper. From its name, I had this bucolic image of people working bamboo screens knee-deep in the Tomoe river somewhere, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

Tomoegawa Co., Ltd. is headquartered in Kyobashi (upstreet from Ginza), and is a modern company specializing in such things as “Electronics Parts, Display Parts, Fine Particles, Highly Functional Sheet, Speciality Paper”, according to their company profile. It started out making electrical insulating paper and electrolytic recording paper (help!! such jargon!!) but since then has moved on to the manufacture of electronic parts. So first of all Tomoe River paper is actually a very high-tech product, probably born out of their expertise in treating and coating paper for various special needs. It also means that papermaking is (probably) only a small part of their business right now. Most of the paper they do produce seem to be made in bulk and supplied to other businesses rather than to individual consumers. And as for the paper’s fountain-pen-friendly qualities, that may just be a happy by-product of developing lightweight copier paper on which toner ink won’t bleed.

What I mean to say is that the people at Tomoegawa seem to be fundamentally different from the sort of people running, say, Midori paper. They are engineers, not designers. So I think we may have to wait awhile before we get the kind of alternate rulings and notebooks we want from this company (as Penventory points out). It would be great if they would enter into a partnership with a reputable design firm and start producing a comprehensive line of notebooks and journals.

And in the meanwhile, I can’t wait for my Techo to arrive!