Ito-ya and Gojuon, Ginza, Tokyo


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:


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:


Pencil upon pencil:


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

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Some Staedtler anniversary items:


A handsome pencil sampler featuring Ito-ya branded pencils:


And as previously mentioned, globes, globes, globes…

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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.

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:


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


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.”

Special thanks to my friend Yumiko and her daughter Haruka, who made my visit to Ito-ya and Gojuon possible.

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10 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.


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


  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…


    • 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. 🙂


  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.


  6. Gunther says:

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


  7. Pingback: Gojuon: shoushin-mono | Contrapuntalism

  8. Pingback: There is a pencil store… – pencil talk | pencil reviews and discussion

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