(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
I remember when finding Tomoe River paper was difficult. Only one or two retailers offered it in the US, and you had to get an order in promptly or you were out of luck. Now Tomoe River paper is available from multiple retailers in a variety of notebook styles.
Today I’m reviewing the Tomoe River Notebook by Sakae Technical Paper. It is a cardboard-bound notebook with white, dot-grid, 52gsm paper in A5 size. The notebook contains 368 thread-bound pages.
This is a beautifully-made notebook. The thick cardboard cover is textured with a subtle logo on the front. It comes with a plastic cover that protects the notebook from the elements, which is an especially nice touch. The notebook lays flat when open.
The paper is smooth with a light dot-grid pattern on pure white paper. I really like the white paper (I’m accustomed to cream Tomoe River paper) because ink colors look more accurate on white paper.
I tested the paper in several ways: writing reviews, practicing calligraphy, testing pens, and doing swatches. It performed beautifully, though, like all Tomoe River paper, show through is obvious. Bleed through, however, is rare. I only encountered it with my three-tined music nib and a Sharpie.
The paper works well for general writing. I wrote a couple of Pen Addict reviews using the notebook, and I have absolutely no complaints about how the paper feels under a nib. It’s absolutely smooth and it doesn’t catch at your nib. Plus, it lays flat when open.
I love this notebook for calligraphy practice. The dot grid provides guidance, and you can write in portrait or landscape.
I used several different fountain pens and other writing instruments to test the paper. It handled all the fountain pens perfectly except for the widest and wettest nib: a Waterman three-tined music nib. I dipped the Waterman, so the number 10 I wrote was especially wet. That was the only ink that bled through (and just a tiny bit).
I also tried several other pens, rollerballs, brush pens, various ballpoints, and a pencil. The only pen that showed through quite obviously was the Sharpie.
Last, I tested the paper by doing ink swatches. I love how ink swatches look on this paper. The colors are true, and the dot grid shows in the swatches. Obviously, with such wet ink, you have a great deal of show through (but no bleed through on any of the inks I tested).
As you can see, the paper is lovely and it shows off ink well. However, if you are bothered by show through, you won’t like this notebook (or any Tomoe River paper, for that matter). The thing about Tomoe River paper is that it is super thin and yet ink doesn’t tend to bleed or feather. However, that thinness means that writing will show through. The easy solution is to use only one side of the paper if you’re bothered by show through. I journal on both sides of my Seven Seas Writer (also Tomoe River paper), and I’m not bothered by the show through at all. I love how the paper gets all crinkly and the ink colors meld together in a collage of words.
A few things are missing from this notebook that some writers might want, such as a ribbon marker, pockets on the inside of the cover, and page numbers. But, if you like a sleek, classy looking notebook without any added bulk, the Tomoe River Notebook by Sakae Technical is a great choice.
You can purchase this notebook at Jet Pens for $49.00. Although this notebook is very nice, it is almost twice as expensive as the Seven Seas Writer ($26.00), which has 468 pages (it comes in dot-grid, white or lined cream). The Seven Seas does not have a plastic cover, however, and it is much thicker.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)