(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)
Once upon a time, finding Tomoe River paper was an exercise in frustration. You could find sellers on FPN or FPG offering looseleaf Tomoe River paper, but it was expensive and sold out quickly. Then the Nanami Seven Seas Writer Journal came along, and, if you acted quickly, you could purchase a couple of journals--one to write in and one to hoard for the future. Now Tomoe River paper is ubiquitous. You can find it on JetPens and Amazon and through various independent notebook makers.
Elia Note is one of those independent notebook makers. The company is located in Malaysia. It offers three different A5 sized journals with white 52gsm Tomoe River paper: blank, dot grid, and lined. Each version costs $29.45 USD.
Elia gave the Pen Addict a dot grid version for review. It comes in a tan colored box which you can use to store the journal once you’ve completed it.
The notebook itself has a black, cardboard cover without any branding at all.
Inside, the first page has the Elia logo along with information about the notebook. There are 496 pages of 5mm dot grid, white Tomoe River paper made in Japan.
Aside from the light grey dot grid, the pages are unmarked--no page numbers, headings, or logos.
The notebook is simple. It does not have any pockets inside the covers nor is there a ribbon bookmark.
The paper is, of course, fabulous. Unlike the disappointing Maruman notebook I reviewed last week, the Tomoe River paper handles almost anything you can throw at it without bleeding or feathering.
I practiced my calligraphy alphabet using my Opus 88 fountain pen with the Regalia Labs Crossflex nib inked with Montblanc Corn Poppy Red. The ink worked perfectly with the paper--no smearing, no bleed-through, no feathering.
Of course, because Tomoe River paper is so thin, there is quite a bit of show through.
I tested several different pens and inks on the paper. It handled every single one with ease. The only one that bled through (slightly) was the Sharpie, and I always expect that.
I wrote another entry from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (read it, it’s so funny!) using my TWSBI Eco T inked with Kyo-no-oto Adzukiro. It’s simply a delight to write on Tomoe River paper. It’s smooth, yet it doesn’t smear, and the results are so pleasing.
I also did ink swabs in the Elia notebook. Even wet Q-tip swabs didn’t bleed through this lovely paper. I really like that the paper in the Elia notebook is white rather than cream, because it shows off each ink’s color accurately.
I’m definitely impressed with the Elia Note Tomoe River Paper Journal. But, I noticed that it is almost an exact duplicate of the Nanami Seven Seas “MicroDot” Journal, from the A5 size to the black cover to the rounded edges.
The main differences are: the Elia has white paper whereas the Seven Seas is off white. The Elia has 496 pages whereas the Seven Seas has 480. The Elia costs $29.45 plus shipping from Malaysia (about $12), whereas the Nanami Seven Seas “MicroDot” Journal costs $26 plus shipping from the US (about $9.20).
I will happily use the Elia Note once I’ve finished my current journal (a Hippo Noto). But I’ll likely return to Nanami for my next A5 Tomoe River journal, simply because it’s a slightly cheaper option.
(Elia Note provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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