This store was the first store that I visited in Tokyo, and I always look forward to my time at Shosaikan. Admittedly, I was not actively seeking to dive deeper into the hobby, since I was not earning at the time, but I liked looking at pens and something about Shosaikan drew me in. Even from the very first time, the staff were extremely friendly for me and I was able to test any pen that I wanted (more on this later). The ambiance of the store is fantastic and I have to emphasise that the staff just pushes the experience over the edge!
The shop itself is tucked into a quiet corner near the busier shopping areas of Omotesando and Harajuku. For first timers, it could be a bit difficult to find, but Google Maps is fairly accurate and easy to use. There’s a small garden-like entrance with a soothing pond to greet visitors, as well as a funky image of a baby.
Walk up the stone steps, and you’ll walk into the store itself, with a hallway decorated with a display wall of some of Shosaikan’s most rare and beautiful pens. Limited edition OMAS, Pelikan, Pilots, etc. adorn the wall, many of which could very well be the only one you’ll ever see in your lifetime.
Beyond this initial wall, visitors then walk into the main foyer, which is another wide display of more common production (or formerly production) pens, mostly of western brands such as Aurora, Delta, Visconti, Pelikan, and the sort. Occasionally, the display is switched up when the store does brand focused events, such as the one done for the Pilot and Platinum 100 Year Anniversaries or their Capless (Vanishing Point family) Fair.
Turn left, and you will find a catalogue of magazines and postcards, as well as a small charming café space (their milk tea is VERY good). To the right, however, is the main space with the bulk of their commercial inventory. For fountain pen lovers, the main attractions are on the walls. The biggest display wall is dedicated to more commercially popular pens, such as the Pilot Capless and Custom series, the Platinum 3776 series, and the Sailor Profit (1911) series, as well as an assortment of western pens.
Immediately in front of that, there is a display table filled with high end Pilot Urushi pens, including the Emperor and other various Maki-e pens. The artistry of these pens are simply superb, and it’s an incredibly surreal experience to see these lined up next to each other. The Sailor Specialty Nibs and other high end Sailors sit on a separate display table, where you can see and try all the modern production models. Interestingly, there is not a dedicated display table of Platinum, but nonetheless Platinum is represented on the main wall, but could be potentially a reflection of Platinum’s status as the third of the Japanese Big 3. Nakaya, to my memory, is not represented at Shosaikan.
Maki-e and Raden Pelikans are also sold at Shosaikan, although embedded into the far side of the store, along with GVFC and Visconti (including the Visconti Alchemy!). Fear not, however, as you can simply ask the staff to test the pens, and they will bring out their test model for you.
There is also a smaller Montblanc and Cartier corner, but this is not so interesting, though they do have all the standard line up and special editions.
At the back of the store, there is an ink and accessories wall, where they sell inks from the main lines of the major manufacturers, as well as some western manufacturers such as Noodler’s (I believe they may be one of the first retailers worldwide to sell Noodler’s) and Private Reserve. Additionally, there are two store exclusive inks by Sailor: Seiran, a deep blue, and Shinzan, a musky green.
Once you have narrowed down the pens that you would like to try, just approach any free staff and you will be seated at the main counter, where you will get to try the pen on two different types of paper: a textured one and a smooth one, while being served some refreshing green tea. The staff are there to not only answer your questions about the products, but are also happy to have a conversation with you! However, not all the staff can speak English, although this does not hamper their enthusiasm for their products and customers.
A purchase above 30,000 JPY comes with a choice of a leather mini paper pad or a nice leather pen wrap. Personally, I always choose the pen wrap, which is nicely embossed with the Shosaikan quill logo.
In addition to selling stationery, Shosaikan also hosts “Pen Clinics” and other kinds of workshops, such as the Pilot Writing Test, where you can write on a machine developed by Pilot, which will then analyse your writing angle and pressure to recommend a pen for you.
Overall, I really love this store. This is probably the most beautiful retail space of fountain pens in Japan, away from the hustle and bustle that is Tokyo for a personalised and classy experience. If you have the time, do try their café as well! This is where I bought my first Iroshizuku and my first Pilot Custom 823. The staff are wonderful people to talk to, and coming to Shosaikan is always the highlight of my day.