The History of Japan’s Tsubame Notebook

A very interesting article about the history of the iconic Tsubame notebook, created by Watanabe Hatsusaburō.

In the heady days of the early postwar era, Watanabe Hatsusaburō, founder of the Tokyo-based stationery maker Tsubame, had one thing in mind: to make a high quality, inexpensive notebook. In 1947 he launched the Tsubame nōto, a simply designed, multipurpose notebook. Its straightforward look—speckled gray cover, black-taped spine, gold-embossed product number—and high-grade paper have remained hallmarks over its seven decades, helping make it one of the longest selling and most recognized stationery items in Japan.

According to Watanabe Seiji, second-generation director of the firm, the product was born out of necessity. “Just after the war Japan was awash in cheaply made stationery,” he explains. “Hatsusaburō felt that the country needed affordable, well-made notebooks to sustain its long, rich writing culture. He joined forces with a local paper manufacturer to develop high-quality, inexpensive sheets based on foolscap writing paper imported from Britain, binding these together into a sturdy product. The notebook was a little more expensive than competing products, but people liked the feel when they wrote and it quickly became a hit.”

You can buy them on Amazon.

Read more at: A Longtime Writing Companion: Japan’s Tsubame Notebook |

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