So I was in Tokyo over the holiday week and could not resist the temptation to indulge. I was only there for 2 days, a layover transit while I was traveling in Asia. I hit the usual places, Itoya in Ginza and Maruzen in Nihonbashi.
I really dislike the new set up in Itoya. You no longer have the private quiet space that was more conducive for pen trying and browsing when it was in the G.Itoya building. There were all sorts of gawkers milling around the space, and the service people were trying their best to service everyone irrespective of whether they are buying a $5 converter or a $1000 Namiki.
As for Maruzen, it is still really the same but it a good way. Quiet pen browsing where the service staff is really able to help you try as many pens as you like. I also went to the new Tsutaya book store in Ginza 6. Beautifully designed with fantastic merchandise, but MUCH smaller than T-site or Tsutaya Electric. I did not remember seeing any special editions. The one thing I really wanted to get were special nibbed Sailors. I have never had a problem in the past, but this time, everyone one of the stores said they were out and not available. I hope this situation is going to be rectified soon.
Saw the Moonlight VP that everyone has been mooning about but it did not grab me at all so that did not come home with me. Talking about exlusive VPs, the crimson urushi VP with gold trim was stunning. But I found it difficult to open my wallet to a $600 VP, so that did not make the cut either. Maruzen had quite a few special editions but none of them appealed to me enough to want me to bring home with me. They had a Mark D and Maruzen Sailor that used the current Arita body but instead of ceramic, it was a hand hammered bronze body. It was $1300 which was a little too rich for me. They also had the KOP cocktail pen. I found it intriguing but did not like the transparent end caps so that also did not make the cut.
I did end up with a bunch of Pilots this time. Don't ask why. The crimson Custom Urushi was absolutely lovely and I HAD to have it. It's exactly the same shade of crimson as the Yukari Royale. I also ended up with a bunch of other Pilots. Maybe you guys can guess what they are?
I chanced on the new 5 pen Somes Pilot case. At first I did not like it as the dividers does not extend all the way down to completely separate each pen. However I realize the reason they made it this way is because it allows for pens of different sizes to be accommodated. It's a pretty flexible system as you can see in the photos, quite able to accommodate both the huge diameter Custom Urushi as well as much slimmer pens. I tried to get pens that are simply not available here in the US. I also did end up with 4 bottles of unique Sailor inks. Have not opened the bottles yet so no comment on the color or performance.
BUT my true guilty pleasure that no one talks much about are pen catalogs. These are pretty much free and easily available all around Tokyo at most of the pen shops for any customer. I derive tremendous pleasure in slowing browsing and planning my next purchases! Although the European catalogs are nice, my true guilty pleasures are the Japanese pen catalogs. These capture the standard production of big 3 and are helpful to understand their entire range.
Short exhausting visit with lots of walking but extremely fun!