As mentioned in my previous post, I took a short trip to Seattle recently, and like a serious stationery addict, I spent a good amount of the trip on stationery shopping. I mainly focused on two places: Kinokuniya and Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. Starbucks Reserve was a no-brainer for me, since I’m a fan of Field Notes and have been wanting to buy their special Starbucks-branded Field Notes straight from the source. As for Kinokuniya, it is a chain of bookstores in the US that specializes in Japanese books but also with good gift sections that include Japanese stationery. I had to at least stop by the Seattle Kinokuniya to see if their inventory was any different from my local Japanese stationery stores.
In this post, I’ll share some thoughts on my stationery purchases, plus some other things that caught my attention during this trip. First, here’s what I bought:
Starbucks Reserve Field Notes
I am thinking about writing a separate post on my experience at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. But for now, just in terms of stationery: they had in stock exactly what I wanted. There was a large gifts area by the main entrance, and I made a beeline for the Field Notes “Coffee Origins” 3-packs as soon as I spotted them in a small wooden box. Surprisingly, they still had a stack of the very first edition, too (the birch edition in a larger size format). Even though I had these editions already, I bought some more because... I was there anyway! A few extras wouldn’t hurt, right? Let's not get judge-y. :) Oh, in case you are wondering, Starbucks Reserve did not have the Capitol Hill edition just yet when I was there. I think I missed them by just a few days. $@#%!@#!!
Kikkerland Ruler Jumbo Pencil
This is my most spontaneous purchase of the trip. I actually bought this round, jumbo pencil at Blick in the Capitol Hill neighborhood but I saw it at Kinokuniya, too. I was attracted to its natural finish (I believe it's cedar) and the ruler, which is in both inches and centimeters. The graphite is a little too hard and light, though. Ah well... at least it looks nice. Interestingly, the non-business end of this pencil does not show the graphite core. Kinda neat.
(From this point on, all items were bought at the Seattle Kinokuniya in the International District.)
LIFE Noble Note Mini (spiral, blank)
I haven’t seen this particular spiral version locally, so I bought it to give it a try, with plans to replace the mini Muji note that I always carry in my bag. As with other LIFE notebooks, the paper quality in this feels great (cream-colored), and I love the cover design. But then again, I’m a fan of this brand already, so I may be biased. I bought it in blank style but Kinokuniya also had the regular line-ruled and graph grid versions, too.
Little B Decorative Tapes with gold arrows
I haven’t seen this brand before, so I bought a set to give them a try. I like that these tapes are super thin, measuring only 3mm in width. I plan on using them as decorative dividers in my journals. The adhesive is on the weak side but it’s neat that the packaging comes with a built-in cutter near the top. Might be a bit awkward to store, though.
Mitsubishi 9852 HB Pencils in Red, Lemon, Emerald, Navy
Okay, so these were definitely NOT what I expected to find at Kinokuniya, or at any brick-and-mortar store in America for that matter. I may or may not have squealed when M pointed these out for me in the pencil section. These are the 2014 limited editions of Mitsubishi’s long-time seller, the 9852 (for “Master Writing”), that have been on my wishlist ever since I was introduced to them by Sola of Pencils And Other Things (in this post). I love the burgundy Mitsubishi 9850, and have been meaning to try the 9852 (the regular color is yellow orange), but I haven’t come across it locally. So to find them in 4 different, limited edition colors was totally unexpected and definitely the highlight of the whole trip. I love how they look and can’t wait to try one. The problem is, which color first?
Seattle Kinokuniya, a mini-review
That’s the end of my Seattle stationery shopping haul! It was a short trip, so I didn’t seek out any other specialty stores. But I think it was a successful trip. I had fun finding what I wanted and discovering new, unexpected things along the way. The stressful part was resisting so many goodies…
Before I close this post, I should mention some of other interesting things I spotted at this particular Kinokuniya (inside the Uwajimaya building in Seattle’s International District) and why I would shop there again.
Finding the aforementioned 9852 pencils convinced me again that when it comes to Japanese stationery stores in the US, it doesn’t hurt to shop them all, even within the same chain, because each store will have different inventory/brands/emphasis. For example, I find that Maido in San Francisco Japantown has a wider pen selection than the Maido at SF Shopping Centre. The San Jose Kinokuniya seems to be have a lot of Tombow pencils for kids, while the Seattle Kinokuniya is well stocked in more “adult” pencils, including stacks of Blackwing vol. 211. And so on and so forth.
What I liked about the Seattle Kinokuniya was that it had a good selection of Japanese planners, specifically Hobonichi. Maido SF’s range of planners is nothing to sneeze at, but Seattle had some that I haven’t seen before, like Hobonichi Weeks in different designs (and Hobonichi pencil boards!). I also found the Midori MD 2016 Notebook Diary, which I’ve been wanting to check in person and none of my local stores knew about. Kinokuniya in Seattle also had the Editors Republic notebooks (in a bigger selection than San Jose) that were featured in Monocle, and Graphilo notebooks, which I last saw in Japan and are supposed to be very fountain-pen friendly. I didn’t buy these things for various reasons, but to be able to check them out in person was quite a treat.
All this is to say, I like your Kinokuniya, Seattle! I do not take my local Japanese stationery stores for granted, but there are times when I wish for more, and the Seattle Kinokuniya helped me satisfy that craving. If you’re a fan of Japanese stationery and are in the area, I highly recommend you pay them a visit. I will be back!