November 25, 2007
PaperPhilia- Midori Japan’s Traveler’s Notebook
My love of fountain-pens (FPs) has produced side-effect loves that I never thought would happen when I first put ink into my first serious FP. The side loves have included excellent ink and excellent paper. I’ve discussed the effect of ink and paper on writing experience in the past (FPs -v- BPs). Molly, from whom I purchased my first Japanese notebooks (Apica), sent me a journal to get my opinions on it. I have to admit not being sure of this journal at first, but a bit of digging and using has solidified some things about it, and I wanted to share them here. I’ll have to devote a different post to discussing the Apica notebooks (as I’ve fallen hard for them). I’ve reviewed the Apica on the FountainPenNetwork’s forum in the recent past, so I’ll wait on that review for another time.
(More images and my review after “more”…)
Today’s focus, is on the Midori Traveler’s Notebook . This is my first time experiencing a Midori  product. My first view of the journal was a blur of plastic and cardboard wrapping that could only have come from Japan. This journal is packed so well. Two separate plastic wraps, one cardboard box-like wrap, and an internal cloth bag secure this journal for shipping. (When was the last time you got a journal in a cloth-bag?) One Google translation of a blog post mentions that it’s packed reminiscent of a souvenir (or perhaps the true translation was “gift”?) Not knowing Japanese, I’m not sure. I will say it’s very well packed, and it shows Midori’s attention to detail.
Opening up the well packaged notebook became an adventure itself. Inside the plastic outer-cover was a second plastic inner cover, a cardboard package with elastic enclosure, as well as a cloth-bag containing the notebook. Inside the cardboard package also came a second elastic replacement strap, and instructions (unfortunately in Japanese).
Hence, my earlier comment- Midori definitely pays attention to details. They were kind enough to supply a replacement strap. In fact, there’s a third strap which wraps the cardboard package (of a more orange color), which could be removed and used with the notebook as well.
Inching back the cloth cover a strap-button, and wonderful leather cover come into view. The cover is quite thick, and is wonderful to touch. I’m positive the notebook was shipped in the cloth case to prevent marring on its journey. Midori mentions on their outer label that overtime the notebook cover will take on a character all its own. I noticed this with some modest use, and found that a small bit of leather cleaner/moisturizer brings back a very nice patina to the cover very easily.
The back cover tells the story of the leather’s manufacture- Thailand. Apparently the covers are made in a small factory and this is part of the reason that export from Japan hasn’t been very high. The inside cover shows the strap that holds the replaceable journal as well as the nice split-grain side of the leather cover.
The size is approximately 8.58″ x 5.11″ x 0.39″. This is a bit longer and narrower than most notebooks and is reminiscent of a man’s coat-pocket wallet or check-book, but bigger. It’s a nice size for holding in your hand, but perhaps will require some more narrower writing use. With time I’ll get the hang of it (I haven’t used it much yet).
Another interesting feature which is discussed on the cover, is the ability to add or replace various journals into the notebook cover. A quick search of all things Midori-Traveler-Notebook turns up details of what they offer. These options include adhesive inside-cover pockets, a zipper-case for receipts, as well as a business-card folio which can be added to the spine. There are images showing alterations of the journal with beads on the end of its bookmark (did I mention there’s a bookmark?) as well as beads laced onto it’s closure elastic band. They also mention replacement of the elastic band with alternative closures (such as thread or leather thong etc.). So, it’s clear they wish you to add to this cover, and personalize it. To add to this, they also sell (of course) the replacement journals themselves, available in blank, ruled and gridded styles. The icing on the cake- they even sell an archive binder which holds 5 fully used journals for adding to your bookshelf for archiving your notes.
After unwrapping the journal, I took ink to the paper… My first experience with the paper was interesting- the paper has a small amount of texture. So, I would term this paper as having a bit more “tooth” than the Apica papers, but it’s still quite smooth to write in. It’s not so toothy that it’s frustrating to use. Those who hate ice-skating ring smooth paper will enjoy the tooth of the paper.
(My apologies for the different image condictions.) The paper takes ink quite well. There was no feathering and no bleed-through with the inks I’ve tested (mostly Noodler’s as I love their product). This is excellent, as feathering and bleed-through to a light paper would spell death for FP use. [Why do so many FP users insist their Moleskines work well? They have horrible paper!] There was some see-through owing to the fact that the paper is quite thin. For those of you who enjoy thin paper for fountain-pen use, you’ll know that it’s extremely difficult to find a very thin paper that takes ink well with no see-through. [For this type of paper, see Apica or Smythson ($$$- they're the paper manufacturers for English Royalty).] I’ll try and update what I think about the paper after more use. So far so good: it took ink well, it passed with good marks.
All in all, I’m excited to try out this fine journal, and hope to get the hang of things with it soon. The leather cover is simply amazing. Wonderful quality and extremely thick- this isn’t wearing out anytime soon. So, for a higher-end take on a notebook, I have to say I’m smitten so far. I plan on updating the blog in the future with links to various other flickr streams and blogs of users of Midori’s Traveler’s Notebook (there are a few out there, but not a ton yet), as well as some of the things I’ve been doing to it.
I hope you enjoyed this first-look of this fine journal. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!