The Yamamoto Fountain Pen Friendly Paper Collection ($39.50) is an A4 paper pad containing EIGHTEEN different kinds of Japanese paper. There are five sheets of each stock which will give you plenty to test and experiment with or share with friends.
The papers, in order are as follows (copied from JetPens description page because I was way too lazy to retype every description AND write reviews about all 18 papers):
- View-Corona for Pocket-book (52 gsm): Made by Oji F-Tex.
- Tomoe River (52 gsm): Made by Tomoegawa.
- Tomoe River Cream (52 gsm): This is the same great Tomoe River as above, but with a warm cream color instead of bright white.
- New Chiffon Cream (75 gsm): Made by Nippon Paper Industries, this paper is slightly thicker and more textured than the papers listed above. It is the paper used in the Yamamoto Ro-Biki notebooks.
- Cosmo Air Light (75 gsm): Made by Nippon Paper Industries, this is a micro-coated paper.
- 35NFC (35 gsm): Made by Nippon Paper Papylia, this an extremely thin yet densely layered paper originally designed for use as food wrapping. .
- Glassine (30.5 gsm): Made by the Nippon Paper Industries Company, this is an extremely thin, translucent paper with a smooth, glossy texture.
- Halftone Color 99 White (81.4 gsm): Made for use in security envelopes, this medium-weight paper contains a special filler that makes it 99% opaque.
- Kin Kaku Den: Made by Sakamoto Paper Industries, this is a medium-weight washi paper with a woven texture designed to emulate the look and feel of traditional hand-laid washi paper.
- Bank Paper (48.2 gsm): Made by Mitsubishi Paper Mills, this is a high-quality paper made from a blend of cotton and wood pulp.
- Spica Bond (49 gsm): Made by Mitsubishi Paper Mills, this is a strong, durable paper used for important documents like checks and stock certificates.
- Champion Copy (35 gsm): Made by Mitsubishi Paper Mills, this is a very thin but impressively strong paper designed for use in blueprint copying.
- Typewriter Paper (27.9 gsm): Made by Mitsubishi Paper Mills, this is the thinnest paper included in the collection.
- Air Mail Bond White (61.7 gsm): Made by Oji F-Tex, this is a high-quality bond paper with a lattice texture that reproduces the look and feel of traditional laid paper.
- Air Mail Bond Natural (61.7 gsm): This is the same paper as above, but with a softer natural white color.
- Eastory COC: Made by Kyoto Kami Shoji with help from Oji F-Tex, this medium-weight writing paper.
- OK Fools (81.4 gsm): Made by Ohtori Paper, this smooth, medium-weight paper has a subtle lattice pattern.
- Colored Woodfree Paper Black: Made by Nippon Paper Industries, this is a smooth black paper. Black paper isn’t generally used with fountain pens because most fountain pen inks are too transparent to show up on it.
In between each paper type is a divider sheet with information about the paper. Some information is more detailed than others.
Above are most of the writing implements I used in testing the Fountain Pen Friendly Paper Collection. I tried not only an array of fountain pens from fine to fude but also some brush pens as well since large sheets of paper are excellent for practicing calligraphy and handwriting.
Trying to accurately capture the whiteness or creaminess of paper for reviews is always challenging. As we are in the middle of spring storm season, it proved particularly challenging this week. I did my best but be aware that the paper color may not be accurately represented in the photos below. The photo above shows all eighteen sheets together which will hopefully give a idea of the range of tones. Few of the papers were extremely bright white. most leaned more to a natural white, ivory or cream tone.
This image is the reverse side of the first nine sheets in the pad to give a quick glance to the showthrough and/or bleedthrough of the papers. Overall, there was only one paper that had actual bleedthrough but most had some level of showthrough.
Now, onwards to the individual paper evaulations:
These are not in order as they appear in the book but rather in a random, sort of preferential order:
The first paper in the pad is the unfortunately named Corona Pocketbook. It’s not the fault of the paper that all things with the word “corona” in it make us all collectively cringe right now. Beyond that, Corona Pocketbook is a bit warmer in color than the white Tomoe and feels thicker and less transparent than Tomoe River. However, there is similar showthrough on the back to Tomoe. No bleedthrough.
Ok Fools wins for the best name. I’ve been walking around sounding like Mr. T yelling “Ok, fools!” all week after testing this paper. It is a smooth, thick stock and one of the brightest white stocks in the set. The paper was so thick compared to the other papers in the pad I repeatedly flicked the corner trying to separate the sheet thinking it was two or more sheets.
With fountain pens using standard nibs, there is no showthrough on the back. Some of the brush pens and the Pilot modified Parallel pens had slight showthrough on the back. There was no feathering of the ink at all.
Kin Kaku Den is a paper that was created to be a printable washi paper for shrines and others who use washi paper regularly. If you’re familiar with washi paper, then you’ll recognize the texture immediately. New Chiffon Cream and Eastory COC have a bit of this texture as well but its different. That said, this paper is no longer being produced so this pad may be the only way to experience it. As Kin Kaku Den is a bit textured, it won’t be everyone’s favorite but liked how it kept my line weights accurate, there was no showthrough and the texture created interesting effects with larger nibs and brushes.
Spica Bond has a little bit of tooth but keeps nib width fidelity and the white stock maintains ink color fidelity. There is a little bit of bleedthrough with some of the heavier ink coverage but there is no feathering on the paper. This is a nice sheet.
Bank Paper is probably second to Tomoe River in popularity for fountain pen friendly paper from Japan. It is very smooth, shows lots of shading in ink colors, the dry time is pretty reasonable and the feel of the paper is almost waxy without resisting the ink at all. Bank Paper is translucent so there is showthrough on the back of the paper but no bleedthrough. Life makes a pad of Bank Paper ($19.50 for 100 A5 sheets) if you want to just try it out.
New Chiffon Cream wins runner-up in the name game and makes me think of a fabulous pastry. Unfortunately, I had a terrible time accurately representing the color of this warm cream stock that does look the color of a vanilla cream filling. It looks too green on my screen but let’s set that detail aside and focus on the pen performance.
There’s a slight toothy texture to this 75gsm paper but it brought out some interesting effects with brush pens and larger fountain pen nibs like the Pilot modified Parallel pens. With standard fountain pens, the line widths appeared to gain a size. Clearly, partaking in New Chiffon Cream adds a few pounds to everyone, even our fountain pens.
In the middle of the pack, preferentially speaking:
This is a thicker stock in a warm white. I am really on the fence about it. Overall, I feel like it made my lines a bit broader than on other stocks. The color fidelity was nice and the heavier ink coverage showed a good range of shading. There was very little showthrough on the back of the paper.
Overall both the Airmail Bond and the Airmail Natural are papers I like but I don’t think they will be to everyone’s taste. They have a laid texture making the paper toothy. It’s a heavier weight too which seems odd since I tend to associate Air Mail paper with extra thin paper (more sheets in a letter under an ounce and all that…).
When I applied a good deal of brush pen color to the paper, I get some bleeding of color but I think that was more a result of two water soluble inks mixing than the fault of the paper. Even that heavy coverage had little showthrough on the back.
The Air Mail Bond and Natural did seem to keep finer lines and the distinct characteristics of italic nibs.
Eastory COC (thin type) paper has a smooth, cottony texture. I noticed a little bit of feathering with some inks but with my large Pilot modified Parallel pens, I didn’t have issues so it may have been the ink rather than the pen. There was a bit of showthrough verging on bleedthrough on the back of the paper but there is something distinctly Japanese about this particular paper that didn’t make me poo-poo it completely.
Champion Copy wins second place for the best name. It makes me think of Championship Vinyl since we’ve been watching the new High Fidelty series. That said, this paper also reminds me of tracing paper. Some pens looked great on it but others feathered. Champion Copy also had a fairly long dry time like tracing paper. If you want a similar experience, try some art paper tracing pads or, better yet, marker papers. I think the results will be very similar or even better.
The Typewriter Paper is the last in the middle-of-the-pack preference. I love typing paper for typing and that’s probably what I’ll use the remaining sheets to do. For writing, the results again reminded me of tracing paper or marker paper from my art school days: very translucent, very smooth, and buckles with too much ink applied.
No, not so much:
Okay, the 5 Leaf paper is the one paper I did not agree was fountain pen friendly. I suppose if you stuck to EF or F nibs, it might be tolerable. To butcher a Jane Austen quote, “…tolerable; but not durable enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to papers who are slighted by other pens. …you are wasting your time with me..”
5 Leaf was the only paper to have legitmate bleedthrough. To continue my torture of Ms. Austen: “I take no leave of you, 5 Leaf. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most seriously displeased.”
The 35 NFC paper is food-grade, oil-resistant paper. It is very translucent and because of whatever coatings are applied to it for food safety, it is not recyclable. It also makes my EF nib look like a Sharpie marker. No, thank you, move along.
The final paper in my “reject” pile is the Glassine. While I love glassine for stamp envelopes and its charming crinkly sounds, writing paper it is not. It made all the pen lines indistinct and because it repels oils and liquids in general, touching the paper anywhere will create a spot that rejects ink. Save this paper to make tiny envelopes for friends and stick decorative tape and labels to them. Do not waste your time trying to use it as writing paper.
You already know about these, right:
Included in the pad were both the white Tomoe River and the Cream in 52gsm. For most fountain pen enthusiasts, this is probably paper you are already familiar with but I look at its inclusion as the litmus test paper for the others. I frequently compared how the inks I was using were reacting to some of the other papers to how they appeared on the Tomoe paper. I also compared how my nib sizes looked. Some of the more absorbent papers made my fine nibs look wider and my italics look less crisp. So, while I would have rather had other interesting Japanese papers, the Tomoe came in useful for comparison purposes.
The very last paper in the pad is a black sheet. The description sheet recommends using it to test for ink sheen but I found it more fun for playing with the gel pens, white brush pens, acrylic paint markers and other assorted tools I had in my collection. This paper isn’t substantially better than black paper stock that could be purchased at a local craft or hobby store but being stuck at home right now, it was nice to have some available for playing. If you are not inclined to break out the glitter gel pens, Austin Kleon has a great tutorial on making mini zines from single sheets of paper and he recommends black paper particularly.
Phew! That is a lot of paper to review. It was interesting to see how similar some sheets were to one another as well as wonder why some sheets were included at all (I’m looking at you, food-grade 35 NFC and crappy 5 Leaf!). If you are on the hunt for the next great Japanese paper, it might be in this sampler.
This pad contains 90sheets of Japanese paper thoughtfully curated for you. However, if you were to do the match, each sheet costs about $0.43. A packet of 100 sheets of A4 Tomoe River paper is $12.50, that’s just $0.125 per sheet. So, are you $0.43/sheet worth of curious?