It’s no small secret that I love stationery stores. In Japan, I was particularly obsessed. I went to Horita and Loft more times than I’d like to admit to test pens, oggle at cute stationery pads, and collect animal-shaped paperclips. Everyday I look through my desk, hunting for something mundane, and I find these colorful reminders of my life from last year. Here are eight of my favorite supplies that can be found on, in, or under my desk these days.
Stamps are the bread and butter of any teacher in Japan. It’s an easy way to mark assignments as being seen, correct, amazing, or lacking, all with the choice of a single stamp. One of my students made me the cat “Thank You” stamp based on one of my drawings. Today, I use these stamps to brighten up letters to friends. Maybe one day I’ll put them back to use marking assignments, but for now, they’re happy at home.
Deco Rush are these decorative tape dispensers that come in all different patterns. You can use them to liven up the pages of any notebook, note,or letter. In Japan, they have racks of these, all with different patterns. It’s so hard to choose! They are also apparently for sale on Amazon in the US, but I’ve never seen them at a brick & mortar store. I really like that when two patterns of tape are combined for sale, they are called a “story pack”. It’s fun to imagine the two patterns interacting.
The variety of stickers in Japan is amazing. I remember idolizing holographic and glittery stickers when I was younger, but nothing beats this variety: beautiful watercolor and gold foil constellation stickers, neon houses and dinosaurs, animals (and more!) with encouraging words, gradated piglet page markers, chubby bunny faces, and small patterned giraffes. I use these on envelopes, in letters, and in my journals.
Speaking of stickers, there are utilitarian (and cute!) stickers specifically for your schedule books to mark off weeks, specially call out times or days, or anything else you might want to use them for. When I see these, I can’t help but feel encouraged to get organized and get excited for the future!
These index cards are a mundane desk item compared with some of the others I’ve listed, but they have been so important to me lately. They are great for jotting down quick ideas, to-do lists, goals, and especially good for joyful lists (a habit I’ve been trying to keep).
These are called kaishi 懐紙 (‘pocket paper’). They are beautiful and multifunctional papers made of washi (handmade Japanese paper). They were created for use in tea ceremony. I read that they are used as a plate for delicate sweets and cakes served in the ceremony and as a kind of napkin tucked into the kimono. Today, many people also use them to write letters, wrap gifts, and hold money. I often use them as a folder for small artwork or stickers I’m sending to my family or friends.
These are two inspiring books I’m reading at the moment. Kenji Miyazawa is one of my favorite Japanese poets. I first learned about him through the short biographical animation on his life, Spring & Chaos. It’s a very strange and moving film, as is Night on the Galactic Railroad, the animation of the book pictured above. In each movie, people are represented as cats, despite (or because) Miyazawa disliked cats because of their selfish behavior. Twayla Tharp’s The Creative Habit has been an amazing read (and workbook) so far. I’d definitely recommend both of these for on or around any creative desk!
And finally (or at least for this Desk Life), playful notes are king! Leaving these little things around the apartment with reminders, grocery lists, and love notes makes them my ultimate favorite supply. They just make everything, even serious notes, like those about chores and cleaning up, just a little bit more humorous.
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