Pelikan M805 demonstrator, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
As some of you may know, I, Katherine, am currently in Japan! I spent the last few days in Tokyo, and am now writing this from my Airbnb in Kyoto. I’m here primarily to see the sakura — so look! They’re so pretty! We lucked out and hit Tokyo right as the blossoms hit full bloom, but before it rained.
But I know you’re here for my notes on fountain pen shopping in Tokyo, so I won’t bore you with any more pictures of sakura. 🙂 As a disclaimer, there are much more complete lists of fountain pen stores in Tokyo. This is by no means an exhaustive list — for that I like this one. This is my first time in Tokyo, so while I certainly hit up some fountain pen stores, I didn’t spent a lot of time pen hunting.
Ameyoko – Bruno (the link above) mentions that there are a couple stores here. I couldn’t find them. Instead I got distracted eating takoyaki, eyeing trays of sashimi and trying to figure out what the other edible offerings were. Fun place, but not terribly easy to navigate.
This was my first stop. I was trying to get to Maruzen Nihombashi, walked out of Tokyo station, crossed a street… and looked up to see a MARUZEN sign. The pens are on the top floor (I think? I was pretty tired) and while there’s only one long counter — there’s a lot of good stuff here!
They had all the brands I would expect and a handful I didn’t recognize.
And a small selection of beautiful Nakaya. That green + silver chinkin really caught my eye.
And an ink shelf to the right of the pen counter. The green boxes in the bottom left are their exclusive brand — Maruzen Athena. They had black, blue, blue black and sepia in stock. Each bottle is ¥2000 plus tax (8%).
This branch had a slightly larger (I think) selection of pens spread across several counters in the basement. Additionally, the Nihombashi branch has some exclusive inks (and they come in the old style Sailor bottles!) — also ¥2000.
Eurobox is a small and somewhat hard to find purveyor of used pens in Ginza. It took me a couple attempts at peering into different buildings to realize that it’s NOT on the ground floor. There is no street facing Eurobox sign. Walk into the door way in this picture (the right one, not the random antiques store next door):
Then go up four flights of stairs… and ta-da!
The owner, Eizo, wasn’t in when I visited, instead it was his son. I’ve emailed Eizo before and he’s always been helpful and speaks pretty good English. His son was also very helpful and nice. He insisted on ducking out of the picture above.
They carry a fantastic selection of vintage pens, primarily American and German. Their prices seem to be fair, but aren’t a bargain. They know what their pens are worth. 🙂 A couple pens caught my eye, but the one I want most still needs restoration, so I’ve been emailing back and forth with Eizo. Fingers crossed everything works out!
The selection here is tiny — I’d suggest going to the Nihombashi branch instead. I didn’t make it because I ran out of time. The Ginza branch carries a handful of brands, but nothing super interesting or unique compared to other stores. And no ink that I could find.
Itoya really deserves a post of it’s own. It’s a massive stationary/art/neat stuff store that spans two buildings. Fountain pens are in the main building, on the third floor. The annex still has a section where you can build a custom notebook. Neat!
They carry a wide selection of the typical brands you’d expect, but also a handful of less common brands like Manu Propria, Danitrio and Nakaya.
Sorry for the glare-y photos, the store is very well lit and my phone doesn’t know how to deal with that.
And, they stock Kobe inks! Only one bottle per person per color though. No hoarding. ¥2000 each.
Additionally, if you’re in Japan on a visitor visa and have your passport, you can go to the 6th floor and your 8% tax will be refunded to you. Just don’t be a late evening shopper like me — then you feel bad keeping people at work after store close. (More on that at the bottom of this post)
Kingdom Note is primarily famous for their incredible selection of custom inks. But they have quite the selection of pens too. As I was there, they were helping two people pick pens — each pen was lovingly handled and tested.
Here’s the crazy wall of inks behind the counter — the far bottom corner is the home of their custom inks. You can see the little black boxes with white labels. Each is ¥2000 plus 8% tax.
They also still had their current line of vegetable sailor pens on display (though I didn’t check availability) and a handful of other exclusive designs.
Yodobashi Camera (Shinjuku, I think?)
Not worth a trip. But if you’re already hitting up electronics stores while looking for a Nintendo Switch — you should certainly pick up a couple bottles of Iroshizuku at a great price! (¥1620 + 8% tax)
I know I said no more sakura pictures… but Takashimaya borders a beautiful street, aptly named Sakura-dori. Crazy. Why stand in a crowded park when you can eat delicious karaage (8 blocks down from Takashimaya), take a lovely stroll, then go buy some pens?!
Takashimaya has its own line of store-exclusive inks. I have no idea what availability is like, but they had all of them in stock when I went. My self control is terrible and I got three bottles. Each is ¥2000 + tax. Writing samples to come. Eventually. If you want a tax refund (more on that later), Takashimaya requires you to buy at least ¥5000 of “consumables” — and seals them so you can’t open them in Japan.
The pen selection is nothing special — but is decent and the staff were very, very nice. They also had a case of Namiki maki-e pens. No Nakayas though.
They did have this neat Pilot nib-tester thing! The only other place I saw this was Maruzen Nihombashi. Maybe the others had it and I just didn’t notice.
All in all, this is what I bought myself:
- Maruzen Athena Hatobanezu ink (Nihombashi only)
- Kingdom Note blue shelfy mushroom
- Kobe #51 (Itoya)
- Maruzen Athena Blue Black (Nihombashi and Oazo both had it)
- Three bottles of Takashimaya ink
- Pilot Sunset Blue Capless
- 2 Nakaya Maki-e converters
A note on sales tax:
I mentioned this above, but I wanted to elaborate a little more, since I didn’t know much about the tax refund process when I started shopping. All the stores add on 8% in sales tax. I’m not sure if that’s Japan wide or just Tokyo. As a visitor (foreign passport and a visa that lets you stay less than six months) you can get this tax refunded if your purchase is over ¥5000. Some stores can process it for you in house (Takashimaya, Itoya, probably any of the big department stores) and some can’t, you have to go to a separate tax counter (Maruzen, Kingdom Note) somewhere in the city. But you have to get your refund on the day of your purchase. So plan ahead! Also, you should google the tax refund process yourself — I could be wrong. 🙂
Wow! Many thanks for suck a great tour of Tokyo pen world.
You’re welcome! 😀
So sorry for typo such a great article you gave us.
Oh cool. I am in Tokyo for the next week and we’re going to Itoya today. And maybe Maruzen. Thanks for the article!
this makes me wanna go to japan so much, thanks for the comprehensive pen store guide and blog 🙂
Good ink choices! The Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi pen section is small, but it’s just off a picturesque atrium. It also has Pilot and Platinum nib testers and is a worth a visit just for those. No custom inks, though, except possibly one pink that they released for the fountain pen festival.
In your second picture of Itoya Ginza, near the bottom center of that photo, there is a pen that has ridges throughout that looks like a re-issue of the waterman hundred year pen. What is that one? I’ve always loved that Waterman design.
I have no idea, sorry! 🙂
Hello Andy! If I’m looking at the correct photo, and the pen you are looking at is beside a red/maroon ballpoint, and an uncapped black fountain pen, then that would be a Platinum 3776 Ribbed pen.
You sir, are a scholar and a saint. Thank you!
This is so awesome. The greedy part of me wants to reach through the screen and buy stuff, but every other part of me just loves being along on the ride!
Hah, your wallet is thankful you can’t reach through the screen! (Mine is dead in a ditch somewhere…)
Thank you for your detailed review!
Hello, I loved reading this post so much! Could you please tell me about the pen shown on the last Kingdom Note photo, if you remember? It’s on the right, and looks like a Sailor, in a color like celery, or more yellow maybe? Do you know? Thank you so much. I collect unusual Sailor pens and this one is so pretty.
Yep! It’s one of the Sailor KN Veggie series pens. I think the two in this picture are the last in the series, but previous ones included eggplants, mushrooms, carrots etc. All are/were sold through their website, but I’m not sure what’s still available.
Awesome article, thank you for sharing all these lovely things we love.
How much was the pilot capless? Just wondering to see if it’s worth waiting to go to Japan to buy them.
Which stores would you recommend to check out if I’m only interested in getting Pilot/Platinum pens?
Depends on which capless. The limited edition Sunset Blue was 22000 yen. If you’re only looking at Pilot/Platinum, any non-Eurobox store should have you covered — Itoya probably has the largest selection though.
Hi Katherine, i previously commented on ur blog above back in april but yeah i always remembered this post. I am glad to say that you have inspired me to plan a trip to the rising sun next year early april for sakura and fountain pens. As usual, love the detailed explanation and lovely photo. I am looking for a namiki/ nakaya pen during my trip. Do you have any idea where to buy and is it cheaper in Osaka or Tokyo?
Thanks so much !😊
Hi Katherine, all stores in Japan add on the 8% goods tax, unless they are certified tax-free. There are two categories – perishables and non-perishables – which cannot be combined toward your final purchase price. You have to accumulate the cost for either category separately.
And some tax-free shops require the shopper to spend ¥5400 (¥400 being the tax amount) before they allow tax-free claims. Also, some specific items may not be eligible for claims, so do be sure to ask the sales assistants. I found Maruzen (which readily stocks Tomoe River paper) , Itoya, Takashimaya, Tokyu Hands, to be very expensive.
Regarding Ameyoko-cho there are about three shops in there which sell fountain pens, of which 2 have tax-free status. These are Marui, and Ameyoko Mito, which I visited in December 2016. The last is Tachibana shokai, which in December 2017 wasn’t open when I visited. There’s also Sekaido in Shinjuku, which has two outlets near Kingdom Note, and offers quite good discounts for stationery, including fountain pen and accessories.
Lastly, you have a great write-up! I found the information rich and descriptive. Will definitely visit Ginza the next time I’m in Tokyo. Cheers 🙂
Hello, I would like to buy a Pilot custom 742 with FA nib. Could you tell me where I can find the less expensive among these shops? I have a friend in Tokyo just now that will buy it for me. Thank you in advance for your kind informations =)
Sorry, just seeing this now. Unfortunately, I have no idea.
Hello can you advisese me a shop in Tokyo where I will be able to by a fountain pen of NAMIKI brand many thanks
Itoya and Maruzen should both have Namiki. 🙂
Thank you for this excellent account of pen and ink shopping in Tokyo! The wonderful pictures bring back happy memories of past trips to Japan and its fantastic writing stores.
What a pity we, in the West, have not retained their love and respect for fine writing instruments. I sometime wonder if the demands of writing in Japanese make them more likely than us to treasure a fine nib and fine ink?
Hello. Would you happen to know if it’s cheaper to buy Sailor King of Pen in Tokyo than in the U.S.? I’m eyeing the orange urushi. Thank you.
Do you know which store in Tokyo does the limited release every year of a Pilot Vanishing Point? Usually about 400 pens. Thank you.
Just bought a restored Pilot Custom 743 at Kingdom Note. They did the tax refund right there and had a 10% discount that day (bring your passport!). The tax comes out of the listed price, and it seemed an excellent deal for a great condition pen. Good selection to browse, and you can try whatever you like.