Traveler’s Notebook Factories: Narita Airport and Tokyo Station

In Tokyo, Japan, there are three Traveler’s Notebook Factories. The main Traveler’s Factory is located in a back alley in Nakameguro, a small district with many independent shops, studios and boutiques. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit and also meet with Iijima-san, the creator of the Traveler’s Notebook, and you can read more about that visit here.

They have two other Traveler’s Factories: one is Tokyo (train) Station, and the other is in Narita Airport. If you can only make one, the main one is the Factory in Nakameguro, but all three are unique and worth visiting.

We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to visit Tokyo Station, but our visit to Pilot’s Factory in Hiratsuka took us through Tokyo Station, and so on the way back, we stopped by the Traveler’s Factory.

Tokyo Station is the main inter-city train station, so you take the Shinkansen high speed trains out of Tokyo from here (rather than the train lines that take you to different stations within Tokyo). It’s incredibly busy, but also super clean and organized (of course). There are quite a few small and large shops, restaurants, bakeries throughout Tokyo Station. We had two kids both of whom were, at this point, somewhat wayward, so we only ducked quickly into the Traveler’s Factory, but it would be worth a few minutes of wandering.

At each of the Traveler’s Factories are exclusive items unique to each place. Some of these are more permanent exclusive items, but a lot of them are also only around for a certain amount of time. At Tokyo Station, they have a special train-themed brown cover, inserts, stickers, washi tapes. It’s hard to resist going crazy.

Pre-losing his Blue Jays hat somewhere in Japan.

The other Traveler’s Factory is in Narita Airport. Haneda Airport in Tokyo is the busier one, and for us coming from Toronto, most flights seemed to land in Haneda. However, we had arrangements to fly out of Narita for one of our flights, and so of course we had to stop by the Traveler’s Factory.

In Narita Airport, the Traveler’s Factory is before you go through security, so you do not need to actually have a ticket or a boarding pass to go shopping there. It’s a 50 minute train ride from Shinjuku Station (one of the busiest hub stations in Tokyo), which isn’t short, but it’s an easy ride to get there. At the airport, there are quite a few shops all together, including some that sell other stationery items, and also (ha ha) a few bubble tea shops.

The Narita Airport Traveler’s Factory also has its own exclusive items, including a plane-themed traveler’s notebook cover, inserts, washi tapes and other things.

A visit to one or both or all three of these Traveler’s Factory requires abundant restraint, budget considerations, eyes wide open, and plenty of time to slowly browse all of the wonders and make important decisions.

I ended up getting one Traveler’s Notebook, the one from Narita Airport. I had no real plans for it specifically (and, alas, still don’t), but it was hard to leave without some remnant of our time in Japan. It’s sitting back in its packaging, waiting for what’s next. I also got a few inserts and of course some washi tape, some of the items as gifts but some for myself.

I’ve historically been someone who has had a hard time using these sorts of limited edition or special edition items (those Blackwing 811s! that random notebook I got in Russia a decade ago I’ve never used!) but I’m really turning a corner.* It’s a balance of finding the right purpose for a specific item, like using an insert to document an upcoming trip or record a more internal journey, and also just winging it and going for it, hopefully without too many regrets. I’m hoping by the time I go to Japan again, much or many of the supplies I’ve acquired from Tokyo thus far will be depleted, obviously necessitating a restock. Or perhaps a larger storage space.

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Our 2020 dated Traveler’s Inserts are somewhere in the world, destined eventually for our shop. We’ve been estimated/hoping for them to arrive mid-October to late-October, and are just keeping our fingers crossed for whenever they get here. I’m looking forward to seeing them all and making more decisions about what I’ll be using next year, and looking back on this past year. Hard to believe it’s already that time again.

I’m slowly making my way back through our trip. It’s alarming how time seems to warped both faster and slower, and what small details and nonsense I’ve retained in my journal. What an adventure it was! And what a joy it is now to look back on everything that seemed like such a whirlwind at the time.

*I’m both trying not to pat myself on the back too hard before I get ahead of myself.

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