Japanese stationery by Kokuyo on display at Japan House London Autumn 2021

Throughout the Edo period (1603–1868 CE) people in Japan wrote using a brush and ink. But with the advent of the Meiji period in 1868 and rapid industrialization, brushes were replaced by pens, and new ways of working were introduced that created a need for new products. Japanese stationery became refined over time, adapting to people’s changing lifestyles, yet maintaining the delicate qualities of a writing culture dear to so many in Japan.​

Variety and high quality are characteristics of Japanese stationery. People of all generations in Japan take pleasure in the beauty and functionality of stationery products, for use at work, study and recreation, from notebooks and pens to paper clips and mechanical pencils.​ In the current climate, it has become more common to work or study at home and the things we use in our home offices have become more important. New stationery designs are constantly being developed to adapt to our changing lifestyles while timeless classics remain with us unchanged for many years.

Enjoy a display of Japanese stationery by Kokuyo in The Shop at Japan House London this season. Explore enduring designs from the early Shōwa period (1926–89 CE) and the 1960s, the decade of the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games which was characterized by rapid economic growth and a boom in new design ideas in Japan. Simply and beautifully designed products such as a letter pad set from the early Shōwa period, an accounting book from 1939, a scrap book from 1961, and a home cabinet from 1966 are on display alongside a variety of other innovative products available for purchase.

About Kokuyo

Kokuyo was founded in Osaka in 1905 by Kuroda Zentarō as a company making Japanese-style account ledgers. Over the years, with the introduction of mass-production, Kokuyo went on to manufacture European-inspired account ledgers, before expanding to stationery products and then to office furniture and office spaces, adapting to people’s ways of working, learning and living.

Kokuyo Design Award

In addition to offering versatile and inventive stationery products to customers, Kokuyo also works to support future generations of designers with its Kokuyo Design Award, which first launched in 2002. It is an international product design competition that invites designers around the world to imagine and create the future together with Kokuyo. Outstanding entries are given the opportunity to be transformed into commercial products. To date, 20 past award winners have had their designs launched as commercial products, including the Kadokeshi eraser which is part of the display at Japan House. Visit the Kokuyo Design Award website for more information and for details on how to enter.