Kokuyo Buncobon Notebook

Pens and paper go hand-in-hand.  I have slowly accepted that most paper used in the office will not take fountain pen/ ink well, but whenever I do discover relatively economical paper that are fountain pen friendly, you can imagine how wide the grin stretches across my face.

Japanese paper has been surprising me again and again.  Though the paper itself is very thin and lower in density when compared to European luxury paper, such as Rhodia and Clairefontaine, it handles a variety of ink and media consistently and well.

Buncobon (文庫本; romanji would be bunkobon) means paperback in Japanese.  Compare to the paperback books sold in the US, Japanese version is significantly more compact and portable, which enable commuters to have books with them during their long commute.  Buncobon notebooks embrace elements of these compact paperback.  The dimension measures 4.1″x 5.8″ (10.4cm x 14.7cm), so it can easily fit in anyone’s backpack and purses.

The notebook is available in pink, black, light blue, and brown with polka dot pattern

The size of the notebook does not diminish the functionality of it, after all, do not judge a book by its cover, right?  An index column can be found as the inner flaps of the jacket, both front and back.  When looked closely, one see a short dash followed by a long line.  The purpose of this Morse Code-like lines is that one can assign a color block for a category.  In other words, this compact notebook comes with its own organizing system.  One thing to note is that the cover is made with thicker, glossy surface paper.  To avoid smearing of the text, it would be ideal to use oil-based ink (ballpoint pen) or wait patiently for gel or fountain pen ink to dry before reposition the plastic cover.

Index page
continues to the back cover

You may ask, how would you know which pages belong to a particular category?  Each page has the color code dash on the margin, identical to the one on the index.  You would assign a color or a symbol to each category on the index page.   You would mark corresponding color/ code on the page, but on the same dash as the index (this explanation will become more apparent in the subsequent section) This dash system allows you to record and organize information as it appears so you will not need to wait until the very end to put everything back in order.


When the dust jacket is removed, the inner cover is made with material that is similar to manila folder. One can also see the tape binding of the notebook.


The perennial question that all notebook users ask is, “does this notebook lay flat?”  The short answer for Bucobon is yes, but you will need to press the cover down well.  I know it could be a gruesome concept to break in a book or notebook’s spine, but since it is tape bound, the breaking in is relatively painless.

IMG_1307 IMG_1297

The paper in Buncobon is very thin; in fact, it is almost opaque when you hold it against the light. Do not let this thinness deceive you! It performs surprisingly well with fountain pen ink, even with my wettest fountain pen (Waterman) that couples with a more finicky ink (Rohrer and Klingner Verdigris). No feathering, bleedthrough, and minimal show through.  That means all 70 pages can be utilized to their full extent.

ink testing page
Writing sample I


Writing sample II


Notice the purple and magenta color blocks that I have on the ink and writing sample pages?  If you enlarge the pictures, you would see that they are marked on the same line position as the index page, as seen below.  Kind of neat, right?


There are couple shortcomings I see in this notebook. The pages are not micro- perforated and stitch bound so you will not be able to tear out a page.  (On a brighter side, you will not be obligated to tear out a page when someone asks to borrow a piece of paper!)  The petit size of the notebook might be too small for those with larger hands, as the writing surface is limited compared to larger size notebooks.

If you are interested in checking out this rather unique notebook, head over to JetPens to check it out.  Bundle option is also available!

DISCLAIMER:  This notebook is purchased with a generous sponsorship provided by JetPens.  The review merely reflects my personal impression of the item.  I am not compensated monetarily by the company, nor was I associated with the company professionally.


2 thoughts on “Kokuyo Buncobon Notebook

  1. Dear Shangching, thank you for this great review. I think I like everything produced in Japan 🙂 By the way, I like the new outfit of your blog. However, the text seems a bit small for me. I am not sure if anyone else is suffering either. Cheers


  2. Dear Zeynep, thank you for letting me know about the text display. Unfortunately, the template is Blogger's and I can't seem to be able to adjust the font size. As an intermediary solution, I have changed the font to a bolder one, hoping that will ameoliorate the problem, while I search for a permanent solution.This notebook is quite neat. I like it more and more after looking into it. Maybe I should get a bundle 😉


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