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Comparing toothy Japanese papers: Perpanep Zarazara, Midori MD, and Masuya Monokaki



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I've been using the Kokuyo Perpanep Zarazara paper for a while now, and I'm happy to be able to report on it compared to two other toothy Japanese papers. 

 

The Perpanep notebooks share a few features with other Kokuyo notebooks, in that they lie very flat, and their binding makes for a very "slim" spin. Kokuyo has taken a page out of Midori MD's playbook by putting a cheesecloth style binding and using a plain cardstock as the cover. In this case, they went with a neutral grey compared to the MD cream. However, the aesthetic is very similar. Both the MD and Perpanep lie very flat and have somewhat flexible bindings, whereas the Monokaki notebook has an extra double layer of cardstock along with a thick washi paper cover to make the overall covers very thick. The binding is also very tight and strong, which means that you need to work the spine quite a bit in order to get the book to lay flat, though it will. The Perpanep does not include any extras like the MD notebook does, but you can get the matching branded Preppy made for the notebook to match if you'd like. 

 

Of course, the real point of either of these notebooks is their classy, toothy paper. Unlike a lot of the other competitors, such as Tsubame, Apica, or LIFE, which have fairly smooth paper with maybe just a hint of tooth in some cases, the MD, Masuya, and Perpanep Zarazara papers were intended to provide significant tooth. They all achieve these to a greater or less degree, and they all will give a very nice feedback from the pen. What really sets them apart is their color and hardness. Both the MD and the Masuya papers are relatively thin papers that are very hard and "crispy".

 

The crispiest in terms of paper feel is undoubtedly the Masuya paper, which is very thin, and a little like TR, but not nearly as crinkly and much harder. The makes the paper a joy to write on with a lot of liveliness. It's a very cream type of paper, but showcases ink well, and there is significant ghosting, but it takes ink very well. 

 

The crispiest in terms of accepting ink is undoubtedly the MD paper, which is a little thicker in feel than the Masuya paper, but takes a very precise line on the page. It has a more ivory cream color and also tends to showcase inks well, provided that they don't write too dry, in which case the extra resistance that MD has can lead to the cream of the paper dominating more than it should. However, it does have a richness of color and an absolutely precise line that makes it a very unique paper. Like the Masuya paper, it is very hard, and that gives that ease of motion over the page even while you get the feedback. 

 

Kokuyo's Zarazara Perpanep might well be considered as opposite as you can get while still maintaining toothy paper. Perhaps only a good quality Cotton paper could match the softer quality of the paper. While both Masuya and MD are quite hard and thin, the Kokuyo paper is a relatively thick 90gsm and is very soft. The toothiness is not more pronounced than the others, but it's a little "wider" and more "open" in its feeling. The bumps feel a little more widely space, and the paper will take the pressure of your pen and give a lot more than the other two. What I notice most about the paper is that it tends to curl more than the other two because it is so soft. If you like your paper to drape more than stick up like a board, then this paper is definitely more like that. Furthermore, this paper is much more distinctly off-white or neutral white rather than the cream or ivory of the others. There's significantly less ghosting with this paper compared to the other two as well. 

 

When it comes to the quality of line, the Kokuyo is also softer in this respect, with ink more readily spreading out a little bit compared to the extremely tight lines of the MD. None of the notebooks are susceptible to easy bleeding or feathering. Because you don't have the ivory or cream of the paper, the color quality of the inks will be different, but in addition, there's a signature Kokuyo paper composition to the chemical structure of this paper which interacts differently with the inks, and you can tell this when you write. I don't know what exactly it is, but there's definitely a subtle interaction with the paper that is different than the interaction you get with the other two papers. This can have some interesting effects. For example, Platinum Blue Black ink somehow looks a little darker on the page and feels a little more saturated, but perhaps a touch less blue on this paper than on MD paper, where it feels distinctly less saturated, but the blue color comes through and can mix with the cream to create a more green hue. On Tsubame paper, the same ink can come across as very blue, but with a much less saturated feeling (thus, brighter and perhaps a little paler). 

 

The notebooks is very pleasant to use, and I can heartily recommend it. It's especially a great opportunity for people who like a thicker paper who are looking for a more Japanese type of experience but don't like the high ghosting of most Japanese papers, or the hardness of a lot of Japanese papers. This is a soft paper that is thick and won't ghost nearly as much, while still giving you some very interesting feedback and the like. 

 

I also get the impression that the Perpanep is a little quicker to dry than the other two, but I don't think any of them is so far different than the other in this regard, unlike a paper like Tomoe River which has a very long "wet ink" period. I don't pay a lot of attention to sheen, but I'd say you're still likely to get more sheen from MD and probably the Masuya than the Kokuyo. 

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Thanks for posting your observations 🙂

 

I have found MD paper a little unpredictable in how it will take ink. It certainly produces the tight lines you mention, but with some inks this can tip over into a sort of “ink repellant” surface. I think it may have some surface sizing or treatment that affects how ink gets laid down on the page. Some pages or sides of pages exhibit this more than others, which leads me to think it’s caused by an applied surface treatment.

 

Sadly Kokuyo paper and notebooks are very hard to find in Europe.

 

The Masuya paper in their Monokaki notebooks offers excellent performance, and these have become one of my favourites :happyberet:

✒️ :happyberet:

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20 hours ago, gmax said:

I have found MD paper a little unpredictable in how it will take ink. It certainly produces the tight lines you mention, but with some inks this can tip over into a sort of “ink repellant” surface. I think it may have some surface sizing or treatment that affects how ink gets laid down on the page. Some pages or sides of pages exhibit this more than others, which leads me to think it’s caused by an applied surface treatment.

 

I've recently been exploring this in some of my papers, including MD. My conclusion is that most of this patchy results in my own experiences is the result of hand oils. I've noticed that some nibs I can literally make stop writing or seem to be drying up if I have hand oils on the paper. Because I don't touch the paper in the same way across the page, this can create inconsistencies that make the paper appear to be patchy. The effect can be different depending on the nib grind, size, type, and the ink, but one of the ways it can appear is as if a coating were on the paper that creates beading on the page or a kind of smearing that isn't consistent in the line. 

 

The MD paper that I have is some of the more consistent that I've seen (especially, say, compared to the Apica papers, which are also sensitive to oils).

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