Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Sampler From Japan

Recently this selection of mechanical pencils arrived in my letterbox. A “Sampler from Japan”, a selection of pencils sent to me by a very nice fellow in Japan.

This bunch of pencils really has reinforced my view of the world when it comes to mechanical pencils – Japan and Asia is where it's at. In comparison, us in the rest of the world really only get a lesser selection to choose from. You only have to look at the popularity of moleskins, notebooks, pens, etc, (and the eagerness with which people in your office will raid your supplies!) to know that a lot of people in the “West” have a stationery / office supplies thing going on, but when you compare that to the “East” and their endless proliferation of, and ever changing ranges, of stationery like “Hello Kitty” then it seems obvious that the stationery / office supplies thing is far stronger in the East. It’s not too surprising then that the dynamos of the mechanical pencil industry really are the Japanese and Asian companies. Well that’s all just in my humble opinion of course.

One thing that does surprise me though is the lack of any highly prestigious Eastern pencil brands, well at least any that I know of. Not wanting to diminish Staedtler, Papermate, Faber-Castell and so on, but Japanese companies like Pentel, Pilot, Mitsubishi Pencil and Kotobuki rule the economy and lower price ranges. However they start fading away in the mid price range, and seemingly no Asian companies really compete in the higher priced end of the market. If you want a very prestigious pen, then Japanese companies like Namiki, Sailor or Platinum are very happy to empty your wallet, but when it comes to mechanical pencils, then companies like Mont Blanc, Caran d’Ache, Yard-O-Led, and Pelikan are without eastern competitors. I find this rather strange. The Asian countries have strong traditions of calligraphy, they have prestigious pen companies, Japan was an important player in the infancy of the mechanical pencil industry, mechanical pencils remain very popular in Asia…why then this gaping hole in the higher priced segment of the market? Well again, that’s all IMHO.

So, coming soon, a few snippets on a few of these samplers from Japan.

1 comment:

Dia said...

I am a huge mechanical pencil fan, was wondering where can I buy these mechanical pencils from?