Ito-ya and Gojuon, Ginza, Tokyo

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Despite having lived in Florida for many years I only visited Walt Disney World a few times. I have a picture in my mind of the tourists who were there; many wielding multiple cameras, many of whom called some part of Asia their home. I couldn’t help thinking it was all a bit silly (it’s just Mickey Mouse…). So the irony was palpable when I pulled out my camera in Tokyo last week standing in front of Ito-ya; a kind of Disney World for the stationery fan.

As always time was very limited, so there is much more to see than what meager photos I have posted here. First are some pen displays, and in the background is their pen-repair workshop:
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Also on this floor was a Reuge music box:

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Many displays had glasses of water in them to maintain humidity:

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There was a nice selection of Graf von Faber-Castell Pens of the Year:

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Oceans of every kind of pen you could imagine, from the humble ballpoint to the Frixion:

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Some Faber-Castell anniversary cups and Grip products:

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Pencil upon pencil:

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Platinum-plated and sterling silver versions of the Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil:

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Some Staedtler anniversary items:

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A handsome pencil sampler featuring Ito-ya branded pencils:

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And as previously mentioned, globes, globes, globes…

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Gojuon

Even some of the pencil aficionados I know haven’t heard of Gojuon, so a visit here is something like a wade into the termination shock of pencildom.

The Ginza Pencil Museum is less than five minutes’ walk from Ito-ya but unless you are looking for it, chances are slim you’d come across it as it is situated in a back alley off the Ginza strip. From what very little I know about Gojuon it is a small store and museum (with capacity for about three people), and that they carry many vintage and hard-to-find items. However, they don’t seem to have regular hours so it’s best to make an appointment if you’d like to get in.
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Because I couldn’t guarantee my schedule I was reluctant to make an appointment. Owing to this I didn’t have any expectations as I approached the door: turns out, they were closed. But as much as I would liked to have seen what they have and to have met the people behind it, being there at all was to fulfill a bit of a pilgrimage and I was happy just to have seen it with my own eyes. If Ito-ya is a kind of Disney World then Gojuon, to the pencil fan, is a kind of El Dorado—nearly as mythical, and just as difficult to find:

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These pencil posts look like a fun project (maybe we can convince Lexikaliker to basteln a bit and give it a try):

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Though I didn’t get a chance to meet the people of Gojuonderado, I left them a small gift through their mail slot along with a note.

Ever on the move, it was time to re-tangle (re-tango?) with the Tokyo train system and get back to Shibuya. Good thing my Pepsi was “strong.”
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Special thanks to my friend Yumiko and her daughter Haruka, who made my visit to Ito-ya and Gojuon possible.

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9 Responses to Ito-ya and Gojuon, Ginza, Tokyo

  1. “Wow” in Japanese appears to be すげえ. Since I don’t speak Japanese, I will just say Wow! What a store, and what devotion to writing by hand.

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  2. And what a great gift you gave the museum.

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  3. memm says:

    All your pictures look like something from a fairy tale to me. Now I wish I’ll make it to Tokyo one day.
    There are two questions in my mind now. Will the pen repair shop also pimp up pencils on request?
    And: how does strong Pepsi compare to normal Pepsi…

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    • Sean says:

      Not sure about the pencils, but I can tell you that the Pepsi neither tasted nor made me feel strong, so I’ve chalked it up as another case of my having low resistance to nice packaging. Well-played Pepsi Japan, well-played. 🙂

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  4. Pingback: Pencil Wonderland | Bleistift

  5. Stephen says:

    Wow! So sorry you didn’t see Gojuon. The curiosity only increases…

    Thanks for an amazing post.

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  6. Gunther says:

    Wow – this is truly impressive, almost unbelievable! Thank you for showing.

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  7. Pingback: Gojuon: shoushin-mono | Contrapuntalism

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