Notebook Review: Shizen Journal

shizen journal cover

The Shizen Journal (16.2cm x21.3cm or 6 3/8″ x 8 7/16″ though the actual paper is 6.25″ x 8.25″) is a PU leather hardcover notebook with a magnetic, folding closure and rounded spine. Beneath the protected edge is an elastic pen loop that comfortably holds a medium-sized fountain pen. Inside, the paper included is 80gsm and a combination of grid, blank and dot grid pages — 64 pages of each for a total of 192 pages. It’s a notebook with three styles of paper in one book!

shizen journal dot grid

The paper is a creamy, natural white and the rulings are grey with 5mm spacing for both the grid and dot grid. There is a margin around each page and dots at the top to note the date or time or other coding as you see fit. The blank pages in the center of the book are completely blank.

shizen journal grid and blank

There is no indication or divider between the sections of paper but, as shown in the photo above, the paper migrates from graph to blank to dot grid.

shizen journal back cover

The only branding is on the back of the book — a subtle, debossed logo. There is one ivory satin, ribbon bookmark with unfinished end. It feels like an attempt was made to finish the end but it is already fraying.

shizen journal pen test

The paper is not super heavyweight so my expectations for pen fidelity was not super high.

shizen journal reverse side

I first tested some sketching tools — gel, rollerball, pencil and some drawing inks. The only show through or bleed through issues were with the drawing inks which was to be expected.

Shizen Journal FP tests

So, I went ahead and tested some fountain pens. I had a range of pens from EF to a Pilot Parallel and a couple that turned out to need ink (not the paper’s fault, obviously!). The flex nibs had some bleeding issues but everything else wrote decently. Some inks that may be more absorbent might bleed a bit so this is definitely a notebook where Japanese ink and Diamine may be the best options.

Shizen Journal FP tests

There was a good deal more show through and some bleed through but the notebook was not excessively expensive so using only one side of the paper is not the worst thing.

Overall, it’s an interesting notebook. I like the three styles of paper in one book — I can take notes, bullet journal and sketch in one book I just wish the paper was a tiny bit more fountain-pen friendly to withstand not just fountain pens but drawing inks and other materials. The magnetic closure is  nice and creates a clean, professional-looking notebook that feels appropriate for the work environment.

I could not find the notebook on the Artist & Craftsman website though I purchased it in store here in Kansas City. If you have a branch of this art supply shop near you, I recommend that you pop in and check out their assortment of notebooks, sketchbooks and journals. They have a great selection as well as a good assortment of Japanese drawing and calligraphy pens, markers and more.

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for the review! Would you mind identifying the two pens in the photos, please?

    Thanks a lot,
    Rob Vega

    1. Absolutely, Rob. The pens in the photos are a Sailor Pro Gear Slim in Purple Cosmos and a Pilot Decimo (like a Vanishing Point but slightly smaller overall) in Purple.

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