I think it’s fair to say, I went a bit mad buying stationery while in Japan. I had one big item on my list: a Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Once I’d got that, courtesy of Tokyu Hands in Hiroshima, I spent far too much time picking up various inserts for the notebook, as well as stickers, stamps and pens.
I was, in short, in stationery heaven. If there’s one thing Japan does well (and believe me, they do many, many things well), it’s stationery. No matter what you’re looking for, they have it. Paper in all kinds of sizes, shapes and colour, diaries, folders, pens and other bits and bobs. And temptation lies on almost every street corner, with the two biggest offenders being Tokyu Hands and Loft.
Seriously. Upon entering either store (and I did, on frequent occasions in just a single week), I was like a child let loose in an enormous toy store. By day two of the trip, I was able to do a rough currency translation in my head, and spent most of my time in these stores going “oooh!” and “aaah!” at how “cheap” things were. I filled my shopping basket with glee and little thought for the impact on my credit card bill.
Top purchase of the entire trip was, indeed, my Midori notebook. And the many, many inserts I bought for it.
Now. If you were to google the above phrase, you would be inundated with links to the hundreds (thousands?) of blogs and YouTube videos all about these notebooks. It seems it’s a popular product. To put it mildly.
But what is it?
It’s insanely simple. Basically, these notebooks aren’t notebooks. They’re leather folders which can hold various inserts (notebooks, card holders etc.) via elastic straps. This gives you the simplicity of a notebook, with the flexibility of a loose-leaf organiser like a Filofax.
So what did I get?
I bought a black Midori in the regular size and a brown one in the ‘passport’ size.The regular size has the proportions of a boarding card (remember them?), while the passport size is (you’ve guessed it) approximately the same size as a modern passport.
I confess I did this in a moment of utter confusion, sprinkled with a light dusting of panic. In the outlet of Tokyu Hands where I got my Midoris, they were low on stock. So I had just one of each available to me. Doing the only sensible thing I could think of, I bought both. This wasn’t wanton luxury, as the binders are so much more reasonably priced in Japan. However, I definitely didn’t need both. But I hadn’t decided which size (and associated inserts) I as going to go with.
Over the last week, I’ve decided that the regular size is the one for me. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the passport model yet, but right now, it’s still in its box, safely nestled in a drawer in my study. My Midori is set up with the following inserts:
- 001 Lined notebook
- 002 Grid notebook
- 008 Zipper pocket
- 022 Sticky notes
- 020 Kraft paper folder
I also bought a pen loop, which is a perfect fit for the Parker ballpoint I always keep with me. Together, this makes for an excellent and flexible set-up. No diary (this lives in iCloud and is accessible on all my various Apple devices) or contacts insert (ditto). The zipper pocket was excellent for collecting the various tickets and paper bits and bobs I picked up on our travels in Japan, while the paper folder kept my JR Rail Pass and passport as we travelled around.
Much lighter than any Filofax I’ve ever owned. (Sorry, Filofax aficionados!).
Just before we left Japan, I bought a superb passport holder, which fits into the Midori perfectly. A real contrast to the black leather, this insert is day-goo orange plastic and is designed for a boarding card, passport and frequent flyer membership cards.
One of the things I really like about the Midori design approach is that, if you want or need to, you can easily remove one of the inserts in seconds and use it in isolation. So any given notebook can be removed and slipped into a pocket for use elsewhere. And while the dimensions of inserts for the regular Midori aren’t exactly standard, there appears to be an entire cottage industry dedicated to creating and selling replicas on both Etsy and eBay.
That, plus the sheer volume of inserts I bought while in Japan (the top photo in the post only shows what I’d bought on day one!) means I’m not at risk of running out of these any time soon. But as I’m planning a return visit to Japan next year anyway, it’s big deal to pick up another suitcase load of Midori goodness 🙂
So what is it for? I’ve been using it as a wallet, a travel journal and a place to keep scraps of paper (tickets, receipts and stamps) so far. My frequent travel means it’ll also be where my various airline and hotel frequent traveller cards will live, along with my passport. Work notes will continue to live elsewhere (Moleskine cahiers and / or Evernote), so this is a personal life only piece of kit. Which is fine by me.
So what about my Filofaxes? Now. I have quite the collection of Filofaxes. But it has recently been depleted via eBay, as my new iPad Air 2 doesn’t fit either of the organisers built of iPads (it’s too slim and just flops around inside). I can see the remaining Filofaxes going the same way as they’ve sat on a shelf in my study for months and months as I’ve found individual notebooks so much more flexible (and light!).
I may well explore transforming my A5 Original in green into a kind of “Fauxdori” to carry larger Moleskine notebooks and use this for work, but everything else is leaving the building. They’re unused and simply taking up space.
So. I’m a Midori guy now. Nice.