November 25, 2007

PaperPhilia- Midori Japan’s Traveler’s Notebook

Posted in FountainPens, Paper at 12:40 am by a11en

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.

Midori Traveler's Notebook

(More images and my review after “more”…)

Today’s focus, is on the Midori Traveler’s Notebook [2]. This is my first time experiencing a Midori [2] 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.

Midori Traveler's Notebook

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).

Midori Traveler's Notebook

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.

Midori Traveler's Notebook

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.

Midori Traveler's Notebook Midori Traveler's Notebook

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.

Midori Traveler's Notebook

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).

Midori Traveler's Notebook

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.

Midori Traveler's Notebook

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.

Traveler's Notebook Inking

Traveler's Notebook Inking

(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!


  1. Merlin said,

    Love this review of this journal – Boy that looks like it would be wonderful to write in and enjoy. Nice quality and I just love leather journals πŸ™‚

    Now my question – How has the Vanishing Point FP been working out for you. Is it one of your favorites? or which one is?

    I still love my Parker 51 Special and Lamy FP but …. Time for a new one..


  2. Merlin said,

    OK Second Comment from Merlin – Do you know if you can purchase that type of journal in the US? I was showing a friend and she loves the look of this. So now a mission to try and find one and some refills

  3. a11en said,

    Hey Merlin!!

    Really glad you dropped in!! πŸ™‚ Sorry my reply was long in coming.

    I’ll be posting an update on the Travelers notebook in a bit, as I’ve learned a bit more about the ink taking ability etc., and to relate it.

    I have to admit I’ve been enjoying the cover quite a bit. Love the leather- it’s extremely thick. It’s a weird journal, being skinnier than I’m used to. But, still quite nice. I’ve altered it a bit, and want to share those photos here as well… so I’ve got at least 2 more posts coming.

    BTW, do you have my e-mail address? Send me a message if you do, as the person I received the journal from is most likely going to be importing them for sale in the U.S. in the coming months. So, yes, very soon, hopefully, there will be a place to purchase them! Also, I’m trying to get her to carry the additional items (pockets etc.). We’ll see if I’m successful.

    I have more to relate, but want to save it for a post. 😦 Will try and get it done very soon. [Still have to take the photos for it, however!]

    Chat with you soon, Merlin!

  4. dave said,

    would your friend consider sending them to the UK?


  5. a11en said,

    Hi Dave,

    Well, unfortunately, it appears as though my friend may not be carrying the notebook. She said that it was a bit too expensive, and might turn most purchasers off the purchase. She said $50 at a minimum would be the price. 😦 What do you think, guys? Would you do a $50 purchase for a high-quality leather outer cover?


    ps- since I don’t make any of these decisions, your reply doesn’t matter much, other than it may get her to carry them. πŸ˜‰

  6. Guch said,

    Hey everyone. Just to let everyone know, the Miidori Japan’s traveler’s notebooks are currently available at the Maido stationery store in downtown San Francisco(415)227-4338 and at the Santana Row Store in San Jose California(408)252-1300. Both Stores have interesting fountain pens from Pilot, Platinum, Sailor and Ohto. By the way Midori Japan has changed their name to Designphil since the end of last year. If you have any questions please post.

  7. a11en said,

    Hi Guch,

    Can you tell me an approximate price-range for the product?


  8. Steve said,

    I ran across this web site, which lists the Midori Traveler’s Notebook as an item they carry:

    Here’s the page from their site with the Traveler’s Notebook. The price is $49.00, and from what I can gather on this page, includes the cotton bag, leather cover, one refill and extra elastic strap.

  9. Steve said,

    One question I had about the number of pages in the notebook refills: is it 64 sheets (making 128 writing sides) or 32 sheets (to make 64 writing sides). In the U. S. manufacturers usually refer to pages, by which they mean sides, but I’ve found that in other countries, they will use “pages” to mean what we would call “sheets,” so you double the number of sheets to get the number of “sides” (or “pages”).

  10. Steve said,

    Oops! My bad, this JP Trading Co. only sells to retail stores, so they are basically distributors. I guess the best source would be the stores in San Francisco noted above.

  11. […] you can read the rest here […]

  12. Speedmaster said,

    Great post and pics! I’ll keep me eye out for them.

  13. Have you seen these fine carved leather journals? We can make special designs of your own too. Please have a look and thank you for reading. I see the japanese makes named thsi journal after the great epica made with amalfi paper. i will try ti get one of these japanese journals for myself.

    have a nice day!

  14. tschai said,

    oooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ! i love this… i make leather journals too.. please look at my flickr photos and let me know what you think.. =)

    • a11en said,

      Hi! Love the work! Your Etsy shop is excellent as well! πŸ™‚

  15. Brian said,

    “[Why do so many FP users insist their Moleskines work well? They have horrible paper!] ”

    Unfortunately it seems that the quality of paper used in the moleskine notebooks has taken a significant turn for the worse in recent years. Older notebooks took a FP well with no feathering or bleedthrough. My local stationery store and FP oasis has stopped carrying them for this very reason.

  16. I don’t know if that’s your handwriting in that leather journal, but it’s the perfect style of handwriting for a journal. Just thought you should know.

    • a11en said,

      Dear Leather Journals- you are too kind!! I’ve been trying to improve my writing (See Getty and Dubay), but honestly, my script needs help. πŸ˜‰ Regardless, I bashfully thank you for your kind remarks! πŸ™‚

  17. GN said,

    These can also be bought from – I have purchased from them multiple times and shipping has always been quick (EMS) and the price a few bucks cheaper than the CA options when I checked. The site is in Japanese, but you can click on the “international order” icon on the top right to see English instructions (basically, you send them SKU/quantity/color via email, they send you a PayPal request and ship as soon as you pay). Midori stuff is the third link on the left after Rhodia and Moleskine notebooks…

  18. Erik said,

    I live in Japan and this is the only Notebook that I have ever used for any period more then 2 weeks. It’s just awesome!

    I made a video on it plus my Life Management System here:
    Feel free to look only at the first part of the video to see the notebook from various angles.

  19. Diana said,

    I know these website that is going to start carrying it soon!

  20. Gil said,

    check their blog for update they are also doing a giveaway

  21. Gil said,

  22. a11en said,

    Hi Everyone! Thank you so much for helping others find the Traveler’s Notebooks. My friend on ebay is still not carrying them, unfortunately, but hopefully you can find them somewhere soon.

    Gil- thank for that link to resorshop! Have you seen that passport sized Traveler’s notebook? I thought I was done desiring notebooks, but the smaller form factor is absolutely fantastic! [Probably fits in a pocket better!] Very nice! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for commenting, everyone! I hope that all your “travels” find you enjoying life more every day! πŸ™‚


  23. Delia said,

    Yay for passport size! I saw it the other day at my friend’s place and she had it with her passport in it and it was so cute I wanted one right away! I have the regular size but might consider getting the passport size too! I might get it at that site my friend got it from there.

  24. yoon said,

    you can get one at they have refillable and all

  25. Check out some inspiration for your notebook here: yo

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