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Connecting the world through the joy of writing: Kakimori

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The "beauty of analog" and deep connection drives this small business owner in Tokyo to grow his stationery business worldwide. Be creatively inspired by the owner of Japan stationery brand Kakimori, Takuma Hirose.

Bringing the joy of writing to the world

When was the last time you wrote a letter or journal entry by hand?

Thanks to the advent of digital communications and smart technology, it is no mystery why stationery items like pens, ink and note paper are disappearing from many of our daily lives.

Yet, in the downtown Tokyo neighborhood of Kuramae, there is a stationery company that persists.

"In this day and age, with fewer opportunities to do so, we want people to rediscover the joy of writing," says Takuma Hirose, owner and representative of Kakimori. The quaint neighborhood within which the store is located is dotted with heritage manufacturing workshops and wholesalers. This enduring spirit of craftsmanship was what drew Hirose to set up shop in Kuramae.

A store in Kuramae: a maker's community and playground for stationery lovers

ペン先の卸売りを生業にした祖父から続く、文具商の三代目。筆記具にこだわる下町の店。そう聞けば、誰もが気難しい店主を想像するかもしれない。しかし、職人気質の頑固さや、デジタルの波に抗うような焦燥感は、広瀬氏からは一切感じられない。むしろ真逆の印象だ。柔和な表情と、穏やかな語り口は、「カキモリ」の世界観そのものだ。

「『カキモリ』の店名の由来は、たのしく書く人、「書き人」という意味から来ています。ですから筆記具でも、すごくラグジュアリーなものや、マニアックな品揃えではなく、興味のない人でも気軽に来店して、『久しぶりに、ちょっと書いてみたいな』という気持ちになってもらえるような品揃えを目指しています」。

まるでカフェかブティックを思わせる外観に、天井の高い開放的な店内。商品は、独特な丸みを帯びたインクボトルや、素材にこだわった紙やペン。それぞれが、思わず触れたくなる魅力を持っている。そして、不思議と何か書いてみたくなる衝動に利き手をくすぐられる。

Hirose's family has been in the stationery business for three generations. He has followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who made a living wholesaling pen tips.

In such a setting, one might expect the owner of a heritage stationery brand to be particular and set in his ways. However, Hirose is genial and thoughtful in his words and actions, making his customers feel warmly welcomed and yet safe in their own space.

The owner's vision reflects well in his store's design. The shop's exterior is reminiscent of a café, and visitors step through the door into a bright, open space with splashes of color. The atmosphere is thoughtfully creative and quietly inspiring. Asymmetrically round ink bottles, writing paper and instruments - both modern and traditional - line the shelves. Each item charms you into wanting to hold it, perhaps even write with it.

"The origin of the name 'Kakimori' comes from the word for writer, or someone who enjoys writing," explains Hirose. "We want to offer writing instruments that are neither simply functional nor too specialized. We want anyone to be able to come into our store and feel like they might want to write a little, for the first time in a long time."

Adding to their appeal, Kakimori's signature inks have names deeply inspired by Japanese word play and imagery. The bright blue "Karari" captures the color of a clear, cloudless sky. A deep teal "Zabun" invokes the image and sound of the deep, blue ocean. The reddish brown "Mukuri" represents awakening to the arrival of a new season, like a bear emerging from hibernation to the warm red earth.

The brand and product lineup are authentically aligned. Hirose says that the store only offers items that his team genuinely loves and would use for a long time, not just ones that can sell commercially. It is this passion and authenticity that wins Kakimori's customers over, from the in-store visitors in Tokyo to online shoppers across the sea.

"We have received overseas customers who came all the way here, after becoming interested in our store through Instagram and other means," says Hirose.

Words written in various languages like English and Korean are scrawled on the notepads laid out for customers to try products in store.

Crossing borders, connecting a global community

"We started selling online just a few years ago, and though we started as a small physical store, we felt the growing demand online. Today, international e-commerce has become an important pillar of our business, with customers in Asia as well as the United States and Europe."

From a peer's word-of-mouth recommendation, Kakimori started to ship internationally with DHL Express.

"I used to think DHL was for larger B2B (business-to-business) companies," says Hirose. "We are very grateful for the speed with which our online customers can receive their purchases, before their excitement fades," says Hirose.

"I think our customers value the emotion and philosophy behind our brand and products, more than just functionality, so it's great that DHL's service complements and supports our values."

Looking ahead, Hirose hopes to be able to integrate the physical and online shopping experiences of his customers. His goal is to make Kakimori's online shopping experience just as fun and immersive as walking through his delightful store.

Finding simple joys and connections in a digital world

Still, Kakimori does not try to resist the digital wave. Rather, the brand has leveraged digital technology to expand its reach and appeal worldwide.

Hirose reflects: "I think that by writing on paper, you can convey your emotions and the feelings you want to convey more deeply, and I think that's the beauty of analog."

"Writing is not something we should take for granted, but something special. In such an era, I think writing instruments are an important tool that connects people."

Kakimori

〒111-0055, 1 Chome-6-2 Misuji, Taito City

TEL : 050-3529-6390

Opening hours: Weekdays 12:00-18:00/Sat, Sun, Public Holidays 11:00-18:00 Closed: Mondays (except for national holidays)

Visit the Kakimori website