Cult Shop: For Tokyo stationery dreamers

“We write with joy” is the slogan of a Tokyo-based stationery store Kakimori and its internal ink magazine, Inkwell. The source of this joy – and what sets Kakimori apart from the myriad other stationers that populate downtown Tokyo’s Shitamachi district – is his ability to create unique writing tools for each customer. Notebooks can be bound internally in 20 minutes from a wall of different paper colors and textures. The covers are available in leather or fabric, cotton or paper, often born of collaborations with brands such as OLA or creators like Kentaro Tamai. Upstairs at Inkstand, fountain, ballpoint, dip or felt-tip pens can be filled with mixed ink from a basic range of 17 colours: the number of possible tones is almost unlimited.

On the ground floor of Tokyo Kakimori paper mill

Creating custom colors in the internal ink store, Inkstand

Creating custom colors in the internal ink store, Inkstand

Opened more than a decade ago by Takuma Hirose, the store has since built up a clientele for its bespoke offering and selection of high-end Japanese stationery. It taps into a vast market for writing implements in Japan, rooted in a long tradition of calligraphy that began around the fourth century. Hirose has observed a recent resurgence of interest in more traditional tools. “Recently, a lot of people have been buying ink pens,” he says. He likens the rise of old-school writing tools to the resurgence of the vinyl record in the face of streaming services like Spotify.

The shop will customize the notebooks with different types of paper, binding and bindings

The shop will customize the notebooks with different types of paper, binding and bindings

Takuma Hirose, founder and owner of Kakimori and Inkstand

Takuma Hirose, founder and owner of Kakimori and Inkstand

Inkstand’s bespoke service was launched in 2014 to meet a demand for more personalized color choices. “We had our regular colors first, but customers said they wanted to choose between those colors,” he says, pointing to the four blues from their collection of ready-to-use inks, including a dark indigo and a brilliant navy blue. Now the choice is almost endless. Guests are greeted by a wall of objects and their matching shades, designed to provide tonal inspiration before entering the mixing room. A bright pink apple sits next to an equally luscious shade of fuchsia. The music of Franz Liszt “Liebestraum No. 3, Notturno” was translated to light pink (“I wanted to show that you can create color from the imagination,” says Hirose). The glass cubes are interpreted as a deep blue-green. Next to each object is a handwritten card with the recipe for the color – and the bottles of the inks used as ingredients in the mixture. “We call them color specimens – colors collected from your environment.”

The workshop where customers can create bespoke colors

The workshop where customers can create bespoke colors

Customers can also make their own colors by mail order using Inkstand Post

Customers can also make their own colors by mail order using Inkstand Post

Inside the lab, customers are given a glass tube, pen, paper, and 17 different inks. They experiment and play with colors until they have mixed their perfect shade. The recipe is then saved and prepared in a full 35ml bottle. Then comes the pen: nib, ballpoint, dip or felt. There’s also “Post,” the online iteration of Inkstand: “You describe what kind of color you want, then we create two or three color options, and you can order the one you want.”

A color specimen and its

A color specimen and its “recipe”

Hardcover notebook created in collaboration with Assedonclöud, around £20

Hardcover notebook created in collaboration with Assedonclöud, around £20

Customers are mostly between the ages of 20 and 40 – “digital natives who grew up around technology and want to do something physical”. They often come with a color in mind, and many “bring photos of their pets too,” smiles Hirose, revealing that a cat’s eye color is a regular request. One particularly memorable order came from a deaf client who relied on writing for most of their communications and ordered a blues spectrum. “He needed something to represent himself. We each have a different voice; we can also have a different writing or our own color to show our personality.

Financial Times Personalized Pink Ink

Personalized Financial Times pink ink © Baya Simons

“We actually created a color for you,” Hirose said, disappearing and returning with a bottle of pink ink. He dips into a pen and draws a scribble in a peachy beige. “We made the color of the Financial Times.

Kakimori1-6-2 Misuji, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0055, @kakimori_tokyo

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