Paper Review: Nanami Zen Paper

In a previous post, I reviewed the Cosmo Air Light (CAL) notebook from Musubi and compared it to the Tomoe River (TR) notebook (also from Musubi). I have included a few photos from those reviews in this post for review purposes. I’ve used the same pens with the same ink where I could, and all inks are the same for each test.

One of my favorite Tomoe River retailers has long been Nanami Paper. The online store offers a focused inventory that includes notebooks, loose-leaf paper, paper pads, and some paper accessories. With supply issues of Tomoe River paper during pandemic lockdowns, the staff looked for other paper sources; this search has recently led to an introduction of Zen paper.

I obtained a small sample of Zen paper from Nanami – each sample sheet seems to be 1/3 of a sheet of A5 paper from a notebook. Nanami states on their site that their Studio notebooks using Zen paper will soon be available and I assume from this sample that A5 will be one option.

The ruling on my sample is a 4mm grid of light gray lines – each line is a dotted line which helps it fade into the background.

Below is my first test of Zen paper. The dry time for Robert Oster Ocean here was just a tad over 30 seconds. Cosmo Air Light paper clocked in at 35 seconds for the same. TR timed 43 seconds.

You can see above how the bright pattern behind the paper shows slightly. Below is the reverse side of the page (with other paper behind to block the bright tropical fruits.

The top of the TR paper below is using the same Robert Oster Ocean ink. Shading is about the same for both options but the haloing of the ink is more pronounced on the Zen paper. By haloing I am referring to the way each letter looks outlined by a slightly darker color.

With the same ink on CAL paper, I saw no haloing but much more shading.

I used the same 6 inks on the rest of the testing. Bungubox Sweet Love Pink ink shows very bright on Zen paper, but with no real sheen. Athena Eternal Blue sheens bright pink on CAL and Tomoe River and sheens a muted pink on Zen. Sailor Manyo Haha shades dramatically on the Zen paper, more so than on CAL or TR, but the purple and green colors did not show on this test. Sparkle from Robert Oster Rose Gold Antiqua was best on the Zen paper – both more visible and richer color. Pen Saijiki would only show sheen when I layered on lots of ink.

You can see below that ink did start showing through the page, but only when multiple layers of ink were applied.

My last test used Robert Oster Antelope Canyon which shades amazingly on CAL paper. On Zen paper, the result was pleasant shading but not dramatic. The shading was similar to the results from TR paper.

Below is the message on Nanami’s homepage regarding the new Zen paper. I don’t know how long this will be offered, but I am certain all handwritten letters would be appreciated!

NOTICE: The Studio Note is almost here! We expect it to arrive in early June. It is made of a new paper we found which is very similar to Tomoe River paper. We are calling it “ZEN” paper. It is 52 gsm and about the same color white as the “white” Tomoe River. If you’d like to try a sample sheet, as well as a sheet of the “New” Tomoe River, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Nanami Paper
Att: Samples by Mail
P.O. Box 17422
Irvine, California 92623-7422


    If possible, please use a typewriter or fountain pen in your letter to us. There’s no special reason, other than I love to see stuff like that!

DISCLAIMER: All of the items included in this review were purchased by me or were provided for free when I sent a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Nanami Paper and is available to anyone who does the same. Please see the About page for more details.

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks for exposing me to so many delightful pens + papers. How do I send for it… being Canadian? Maybe I don’t qualify ? I do feel left out of all the giveaways because you don’t ship here though numerous American pen/paper stores have no issues with Canadian shipping. 🙂

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