Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shosaikan Pen Boutique

Halfway through the day I got to thinking about Shosaikan, the pen boutique in Minami Aoyama, and trying to remember if they stocked J. Herbin ink. I had not been to the store in several months and decided today would be a good day for a visit, maybe a good day to bring home a new Herbin ink, or a good time to buy a Moleskine notebook. Good timing with Tuesday being a short work day, leaving me the whole afternoon to walk around Aoyama and spend some time browsing in Shosaikan. So, I shut down the laptop, locked up my desk and hit the road.

A bus and two trains later I came up out of the subway at Omote Sando, right in the elegant heart of Aoyama, and a fifteen minute walk down Kotoku Dôri to Shosaikan. This is a classy area of town, and the streets are lined with expensive stores and boutiques, but all are a pleasure to look at, and the window displays rival Fifth Avenue in New York. When the weather is bright and not too cold, walking around Aoyama is a great way to pass an hour or two. About ten minutes off the main road, a narrow and nameless almost-lane crosses Kotoku Dôri at the Nikka Whiskey building and turning right there, a few short steps will bring you to the door of Shosaikan.

The store is a dim and shadowy place with wood plank floors, lined on three sides with sparkling glass fronted pen cases. They carry a wide variety of fountain pens and some ballpoint pens, most of them either Japanese or European. A quick look at their website will tell you the full range of their fountain pen stock, but the only American names I have seen there are Cross and Monteverde. I discovered today that they have recently stopped carrying paper and notebooks, apart from very few examples. The Moleskines are gone I discovered today. You will find a wide selection of Noodler inks, De Atramentis, Pelikan, Stipula, Visconti, Private Reserve, Delta, Omas, Sailor, Pilot Iroshizuku and Montblanc. (I was surprised to find no J. Herbin ink today.) Not absolutely necessary, but if you want to spend a great deal of money, Shosaikan is the place. I looked at a Limited Edition Pelikan fountain pen today that was in the neighborhood of $4,500.

I have three pens from Shosaikan (two sailor and one Pelikan) and I’ve gotten excellent use out of each one. I used the Pelikan pen for about a week after buying it, and returned to the store wanting an adjustment to the pen, but instead they gave me a new pen, one not needing the adjustment I came looking for.

In my opinion, this is one of the better fountain pen stores in Tokyo.

Shosaikan Pen Boutique

5-13-11 Minami Aoyama

Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America