The English speaking audience is largely no stranger to Kingdom Note. They were one of the first to do custom inks and pens from Sailor, and these items very often become coveted collectors’ items due to their scarcity. Though they certainly are not the only ones in the Japanese Store Limited Edition game, due to their name recognition, their collaborations are often instantly recognised.
Up until recently, Kingdom Note was located in a small office building, no more than 30sqm in space but filled with pens and inks. Honestly, this location was quite shady, with the entrance in a run down building that seems more likely to house massage parlours than high end fountain pens. This year, Kingdom Note completed their move to the main road, complete with a grand glass window that allows the natural light to enter the store, and really creating an atmosphere befitting of its reputation.
For first time goers, it could be easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but a good landmark to recognise is the Family Mart that is located right next to it.
This is a good place to note that Kingdom Note is actually a subsidiary company of an entity called Syuppin. Syuppin’s value proposition is the purchase and sale of authentic branded goods, both second hand and new. A quick perusal of Syuppin’s website shows that Kingdom Note is likely one of the lower priority subsidiaries, listed 4th under their camera and watches subsidiaries. In any case, I note this relationship because, while the old location had the other subsidiary companies in the same building, but in different floors, the new location actually has another subsidiary connected to Kingdom Note on the second floor. Fountain pen activities are on the ground level floor space.
The first thing that you’ll notice when you walk into Kingdom Note is the enormous glass wall full of fountain pens to the righthand side. This, in my opinion, is their most attractive selection: the second hand wares.
Kingdom Note, in my imagination, is actually a second hand products first retailer. The staff here, though less knowledgeable about pens than at some other stores, are very good at polishing and cleaning used pens. The vast majority of their second hand goods look uninked, and they mostly retain the lustre commonly associated with new pens.
A large portion is dedicated to Montblanc and Pelikans, indicative of the strength that these two German brands have in Japan. Some of the Japanese Big Three are present, but the selection is rather paltry in comparison. Italians, such as Visconti and Aurora are on offer too, as well as a smattering of Parkers and Waterman. However, this is not a vintage store, so vintage pens are by and large absent. If you have a pen you’d like to sell, Kingdom Note can either buy your pen from you, or sell it on your behalf.
An interesting brand available here is Masahiro, and it is the only place that you can order Masahiro pens new. These pens come in either C/C or what the manufacturer calls “M-Shiki”, but that deserves another page by itself.
Kingdom Note’s also collaborates as a retailer for interesting glass pen manufacturers, such as Glass Studio TooS, where they are essentially the showroom and customers can order pens through their staff.
Kingdom Note is also distinctive for their extensive collaboration with the esteemed Toyooka Craft. they have one of the largest, if not the outright largest, selection of ready to buy Toyooka Craft cases anywhere, and some exclusive models to them.
Kingdom Note is also one of the main independent retailers of Schon Design, along with Shosaikan. I find it interesting that these early dremeled prototypes made their way to Japan.
And of course, who could forget their epic and rightfully famous ink bar? It’s probably one of my favourite parts of the shop, and they’re not stingy about letting customers test their inks. I particularly enjoy the backlight that shows these beautiful bottles in full glory.
Another great thing about Kingdom Note is the fantastic ink swatches books that they have, which helps customers narrow down on the inks that they would like to try or buy.
All in all, Kingdom Note is a really nice store. I often keep a look out for their second hand wares on their website, and I am always blown away by the beauty of their retail space every time I visit.
One downside to the store is that the staff can sometimes be less well trained/informed on fountain pens. After all, the focus of their parent company is on second hand camera and watches. Nonetheless, if you know what you’re looking for, there are treasures to be found.