A Guide to Tokyo’s Art Stores | Living

There’s more to the Tokyo art store guild than Kinokuniya or LoFT. Manila-born stationery connoisseur and content creator Rainbowholic (also often called Kaila) would know higher than anyone else the range of art stores decorating the town. Noticing Japan’s aesthetic sensitivity that extends from designs of company mascots to cafes and trains, Rainbowholic has been exploring Tokyo’s colourful art scene that caters to painters, calligraphers, hobbyists and even cat-themed-stationary enthusiasts. Find a few of her favorite spots below: 

Bumpodo Tokyo

Tokyo’s first art supplies store

Founded in 1887, Bumpodo is Japan’s first specialty art store to fabricate and sell oil-based paints. The towering Kanda store has eight floors replete with supplies for painting, sculpting, drawing and stationery, in addition to a gallery on the fourth floor dedicated to exhibiting young artists. On the fifth and seventh floors is Bumpodo’s art school, where beginner to advanced students can learn and create together — freed from charge. “It looks like Sekaido but on one other level,” Kaila gushes. “The neighborhood it’s in, Jimbocho, is understood for used bookstores — which supplies the shop added appeal. I particularly liked Bumpodo’s art postcards because you may’t find those in LoFT.” 

Giovanni Kichijoji

For vintage European calligraphy

“I used to be interested in their custom-seal wax stamps and rubber stamps. The shop’s interior has a vintage, medieval type of vibe.” A small shop in Kichijoji, Giovanni features an abundant collection of quill and glass pens, inks, parchments and ephemera recalling the Renaissance and Baroque ages. In addition they sell period pieces like an astrolabe and Bolretti sealing stamps.

Tokotoko Zakkaten

Tokotoko Zakkaten art store

Photo by THE GATE

For cat-themed stationery 

“This place is the cutest! It’s perfect for cat lovers.” With the inside emulating a mystical forest, Tokotoko tells the story of a cat named Milk, whose collection of knickknacks make up the shop’s catalog. “They produce other cat-themed items like cat-shaped tea packs. I’ve also tried their cat cafe experience, and it’s a bang in your buck.” 

Tobichi Kanda

Tobichi Kanda Storefront

For the favored Hobinichi Techo Planners

Personal, practical and pretty, the Hobinichi ‘Life Books’ are high in demand — and infrequently difficult to snag a duplicate of. Thankfully, they opened an outlet store in Kanda early last 12 months. “Quite a lot of people ask me where they can purchase Hobinichi Techo covers, and I often recommend this outlet in Kanda or Hobinichi Culture in Shibuya because they’re higher stocked in comparison with the net store or LoFt.” Kaila also filmed the experience of the brand’s 2022 Lineup Reveal Event, that are among the many pop-up events the shop holds every so often.

Trainiart

Trainiart Saitama

Trainiart, Saitama’s Railway Museum location

For railway-themed stationery and other goods

 

With outlets in Tokyo Station, Atre Kichijoji and a surprising museum store in Saitama’s Railway Museum, Kaila calls this a paradise for train buffs or Suica penguin fans. “I’m an enormous fan of Japanese trains so I really like Trainiart’s washi tapes and collectibles. In addition they have train stamp notebooks and train line washi tapes featuring Yamanote-sen, Saikyo-sen and more.” Kaila suggests using their items for travel journaling while one explores Japan. 

Avril Kichijoji

AVRIL Kichijoji store

For yarns

The sounds of Avril’s yarns whirring steadily on textile machines fill the Kichijoji and Kyoto branches. “Due to their unique style and premium quality, Avril yarns have grow to be popular in journaling, especially for individuals who are into vintage-style journaling or junk journals.” Sturdy yarns and tools are mandatory for any knitting, weaving and accessory-making hobbyist’s arsenal. Kaila recommends using their yarns for gift-wrapping too, reasonably than regular threads or lace. The shop also sometimes holds workshops and events. 

Yamada Stationery

For retro and vintage-style goods

Situated in Mitaka, a neighborhood known for its sprawling park, flamboyant architectural spots and the Ghibli Museum, Yamada Stationery is a compact store boasting some rare finds. 

Kaila toured the shop and highlighted their section of Kokeshi dolls — kitsch wood toys painted in vibrant colours. “36 Sublo is one other store just like this, where you’ll find unique stationery and knick-knacks like this soy sauce container-style pen!” 

Paper Message Kichijoji

Paper Message Kichijoji

For letter-writing items

Cut-out platinum stars and chiffon pom-poms hang overhead as customers scan through Paper Message’s letter sheets, envelopes and pens. Kaila tells us that Paper Message is understood for its seasonal die-cut stationery cards. “It’s a delight to examine their colourful wares, which are available in distinct art styles.” Paper Message may also design personalized memorabilia for weddings and events. Kaila particularly enjoys their nature-patterned paper files and letter cards, like these flower pot-shaped ones.

Maruzen Marunouchi

Maruzen Marunouchi

For fountain pens

Maruzen Marunouchi is certainly one of Japan’s largest bookstores and a go-to for bibliophiles, designed with the concept of a “Book Museum.” Greater than just books, nevertheless, it’s also Kaila’s top destination for fountain pens. They’ve a group of over 1,000 fountain pens — each imported and native. 

Traveler’s Factory

Traveler’s Factory

For travel journals and leather goods

“For traveler notebook fans! I all the time enjoy browsing through their store, especially their free stamping booth,” Kaila says. Hidden in a back alley of Nakameguro, the shop sells original leather-bound notebooks for those wanting something greater than a straightforward journal, or for safeguarding your diary as you travel around. Their covers, ballpoint pens and pencil cases will also be specially engraved after you make your purchase, and you may have named stamps made — perfect for private use or as a present. 

Sekaido Shinjuku

Sekaido Shinjuku

Photo by When in Tokyo.

Must-visit for all art lovers

No Tokyo art store list is complete without Sekaido Shinjuku. Sekaido’s iconic Mona Lisa banners lining its entrance are hard to miss. With five spacious floors boasting creative materials from paints to postcards, Kaila, who praises the simultaneous practicality and attractiveness of Japanese stationery, calls Sekaido a must-visit for any art lover. “Even just inside this constructing, you’ll get drained from wandering around,” Kaila says. “I just like the first floor best due to their greeting cards and postcard selection. Their stamp area is sweet too, and has more designs than other LoFT stores.” 

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