Those of you with good memories might remember that a few weeks ago I linked to Jinnie from Three Staples' overview of the Hobonichi Techo's Tomoe River Paper - in which she went over how the paper performed with various pens and inks. In recommending the piece, I also mentioned that I had never tried the Tomoe River paper, and that I'd have to change that for myself sometime soon.
I'm sure I did intend to get around to that eventually, but even nicer is that shortly after I wrote that Jinnie asked if she could send one of her leftover Hobonichi Memo Pads to me - which would allow me the chance to check out the paper firsthand.
And what kind of pen and stationary nerd would I be if I were to turn that down?
Here we are a week or so later, and one Hobonichi Memo Pad turned up in the post. I'll admit that I haven't had it or used the paper for very long, but I just got to try the stuff for the first time this afternoon. And so I thought I'd bring you guys along for the experience.
The Memo Pad
Before trying the paper out I gave the Memo Pad itself a once-over. It's a lot different than the more organic-feeling designs of the Field Notes that I frequent, and so I noticed a lot of little differences that jump out from the get-go. Or they do to me at least.
The Hobonichi strikes me as a much more sterile and proper sort of design. It's all right angles at the corners, has a precise little 3.7mm dotted grid both on the outside and inside, and the small Japanese characters on the inside-cover only convince me further of it's prim exact-ness.
None of those are necessarily bad things, they're just different than what I'm used to. The Memo Pad isn't without it's own unique charm either - with the bright blue and green color scheme and what I'd call a distinctive font choice for the cover's "Notebook" callout. I don't know if I like it better than a Field Notes design, but it's different in it's own - good - way.
The Tomoe River paper is first and foremost what everybody else says about it - thin. In describing the paper a few times the only thing I can think to compare it to is the sort of tissue-thin paper one might find in a nice bible, but yet it also somehow manages to hold the thicker inks from fountain pens. Incredible.
I started my testing of the paper by setting up the Memo Pad the same way I do all my notebooks - by writing out the words to Apple's famous "Crazy Ones" ad campaign.
I do this for a variety of reasons, but in this case it served as a way to test out writing on the paper for the first time. The things that stuck out to me instantly were how smoothly the Kaweco ink flowed on this paper, and how even the EF nib in my Lilliput felt like it wrote extremely large. I suppose a 3.7mm grid will do that to a pen.
Bleed-through with the Kaweco ink was pretty much nonexistent. Even with how thin the Tomoe River paper is, no ink soaked through to the opposite side. Sure, I could see a faint outline of the writing, and see it even clearer if I it held up to the light - but the paper handling that ink so well is the most impressive thing about the Hobonichi Memo Pad, bar none.
I noticed a little bit of smudging going on around a couple points in the passage, which must've come from me accidentally brushing the still-drying ink. Instead of soaking into the paper like on a regular memo book, the ink has to sit atop the Tomoe River paper and wait to dry. So I moved on to testing that aspect next with a simple ink-drying test.
I wrote out and then smudged the ink several times to see how quickly it would dry. First immediately, then after ten seconds, then thirty seconds, followed by a minute, two minutes, three minutes, and then finally five minutes before I decided that this was a bit more of a task than I had expected.
I've been writing daily in Field Notes for over a year now, and so I suppose I'm a bit used to how quickly you can move on from your writing without fear of it smudging all over. While I don't plan to use the Hobonichi for my daily pocket-notebook uses in the foreseeable future, it's ink drying time would be something I'd definitely have to get used to. I had no idea that even my little Kaweco Liliput wrote so heavily!
That isn't to say that I didn't find the Tomoe River paper cool and useful though. On the contrary, I find how smooth my Liliput writes in it to be really nice. And if you combine that with how useful it might be in testing out various pens, nibs, or inks, as well as with it's perforated pages it's easy to see how it'll be a nice bit of paper to have.
I can also definitely imagine sitting down in front of a Hobonichi Techo planner every morning to block out the day if I had the time, and then making my first coffee of the morning while the ink finished drying. Maybe I'll get the chance to do that in the future, but for now I'd call the little Memo Pad Jinnie sent me pretty much perfect for my mainly-testing purposes.
The Espresso Test
Lastly and, well, probably least is something I've dubbed The Espresso Test. Where I get a little bit of coffee on the bottom of a demitasse and see how the paper handles it.
The Tomoe River paper held the coffee in pretty well. It looks about as well as could be expected for a coffee stain, and aside from a little bit of wrinkling it didn't even bleed through to the previous page of writing except at one especially-wet point. I'd call that impressive.
Tomoe River - Espresso Test Final Rating: Traditional 3oz Macchiato
With all coffee-related-silliness aside, I'm really thankful that I got to try out the Tomoe River paper. It's some seriously impressive stuff - and don't be surprised if you see it pop up in my more analog pieces from time to time. It'll be great for testing out new pens or inks - or as a golden standard to hold other paperstocks up to for ink performance.
My thanks go to Jinnie from Three Staples for sending me the Memo Pad in the first place. She made this little paper first impressions piece possible, and if you haven't checked out her pieces that I've linked to before - then her whole site is well worth a look.
Thanks for reading, especially if none of this stationary-nerdery is really your thing.