Japan is famously a stationary hoarders heaven, but as well as kawaii paper tape and colourful erasers, you can also buy incredible, high quality art supplies. It's easy to get carried away because there is so much choice. Rather than shops stocking a couple of brands, Japanese stores sell a huge range. I'll definitely miss the choice on offer when I return home. Now that I've been here for six months, I've had a chance to test out lots of different materials, and there are a few that I'm going to be stockpiling before I return to the UK!
- Gekkoso sketchbooks
Sold only in the Gekkoso store in Ginza, these Japanese made, spiral-bound sketchbooks come in a range of colours, sizes and paper types. My favourite is the hot pressed watercolour paper, it's beautiful to work on in pencil, watercolour, ink and gouache. I really love the formats of the sketchbooks too, they're slightly squarer than standard A sizes. And they're so cheap! They also sell their own paints which I want to try out. Bring your own bag because they don't have plastic ones (horray!).
From 260 yen. Gekkoso, Ginza.
- Kuratake Gansai Tambe watercolour pans
I've been using these paints for years, the large pans are lovely for washes and the colour range is extensive. I'd only ever bought them online in sets in the UK, so to be able to go and pick up the odd pans I need in a shop is brilliant, not to mention they're cheaper. They come packaged in cardboard sleeves too, such a treat in Japan, land of plastic wrapping! Visit Sekaido in Shinjuku or Tokyo Hands for the best selection.
- Pentel brush pen
I tried out a good few brands of brush pen before I found this one, in my opinion the best! It's waterproof, so you can add layers of watercolour over the top. The brush nib is beautifully fine, and it's great for large areas of black too. It's a good size, unlike some larger brush pens here, and the refills are pretty cheap.
1000 yen. Sekaido, Shinjuku.
- Mitsubishi red/blue coloured pencils
Before coming to Japan, I'd never invested much time in coloured pencils. However, I am fully on board with these double ended draughtsman's tools. They're great for city sketches and changing up from the usual grey tones. Mitsubishi make a large selection of varying quality that I've been trying out since, I'm a convert!
- Gekkoso 8B pencil
Another Gekkoso purchase, this fat 8B sketching pencil. There's not that much to say about a pencil. It feels nice to hold, and the lead is excellent quality.
- Holbein Watercolour Tubes
More watercolours! I've never used tube watercolour before, so I thought I'd start with three colours used in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock printing) - prussian blue, carmine and a deep sap green. The colour is very rich and pigmented and they are lovely to paint with.
From 200 - 600 yen. Itoya, Ginza.
- Super Gold High Class Eraser!
Okay, so this was an extravagance. I haven't even used it yet. But who could resist this little posh eraser in it's own box?! Not me!
500 yen. Tsutaya Bookstore, Daikanyama.
Do you have any favourite art materials I've missed out? Let me know in the comments, I'm always looking for quality recommendations!