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Ito-ya pencils

Ito-ya pencils

Some large retailers offer their own “brands” – products made with logos, company identification, colouring, or other identifying associations, manufactured by external firms.

Tell me if I am wrong, but pencil talk has not yet featured such a “house brand”. The reason is simple – the many pencils offered by grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, etc. are typically third rate, generally offering inferior finishes, scratchy leads, and little or no information about the pencil’s origin.

Ito-ya is a top retail stationer by any standard, their main store offering an incredible eleven stories of stationery shopping in Tokyo’s Ginza district. This is their house brand pencil.

Ito-ya pencils

Made in a wide array of finishes, the one we see here is matte grey. Picked from an online site, I’m wondering why I chose such a conservative example – perhaps two dozen different colour/finish combinations are available. Yet plain as the grey matte finish is, the quality shines through.

Round, the pencil has very minimal markings – “ITO-YA” in gold lettering.

The cap – in black – has a rubbery appearance. I asked myself if it might be an eraser. It is – a good one! With some force, it can be removed from the pencil.

Ito-ya pencils

The looks are great, and the pencil writes with a dark, rich line. It is a quality offering. I am suddenly recalling that round pencils from Japan seem to be far less common than hexagonal ones.

The pencil answers a frequent question here – is there a high quality round pencil? Yes there is – the Ito-ya.

Ito-ya pencils

The eraser format is an innovation – high quality, supporting the lines and flow of the pencil, with no metal ferrule required.

Overall, we have an amazing example of what a “house brand” can be.

31 comments to Ito-ya pencils

  • Hi, that blacktop eraser is also found on Goody brand pencils from Japan that I picked up at Borders before they mysteriously ran out (I’d bought them all). None of the Borders I’ve been to has restocked them, either. I wonder if these aren’t from Goody.

  • I’m just trying to get my head around the concept of eleven stories of stationery shopping.

  • Diane, you bought all the pencils at Borders? Sounds like a fun time!

    And – I’m also trying to imagine being at that store, Kiwi-d!

  • I ended up at three or four Borders, and between them all with about four dozen. It’s Be Goody, I think, and except for paint they appear similar to these.

  • Thanks for the info – I believe the Be Goody brand comes from the Camel Pencil Co.

  • che pablo

    Will these fit into the GvFC Perfect Pencil? Since it doesn’t have the metal eraser band it seems like it might fit well. An inexpensive replacement for the perfect pencil is always appreciated. Thanks.
    As for round pencils in general, I like the Derwent Sketching line. The lead is generally good even if the production value of the rest of the pencil is mixed. Conte’ also has a good sketch pencil.

  • che pablo

    I just found a supplier for you…if you want to buy 100 for $50 + shipping:

  • che pablo, the issue may be that this style of eraser can come off and get lodged in the Perfect Pencil.

    As to that link – those appear to be hexagonal pencils (very sharp looking), while the Ito-ya is round. Still, very interesting. Check out all the varieties of eraser they distribute!

  • Hi, the Be Goodys I bought at Borders were round; some were black with white polka dots, some white with black polka dots. The wood may be incense cedar but not 100 percent sure. Very sharp looking, and write well (in my humble, not very informed opinion). Borders was also selling those Camel pencils with the multi-colored leads (the four-color version), so bought some of those, too. They were all in the $1 apiece range. Haven’t seen them since; they’re carrying mainly the black and natural wood Paperchase pencils, which, by the way, I like quite a bit, too.

  • Iain

    Hi there,

    Any information on where I can order (or buy in person) the Ito-Ya pencils stateside?

  • Su

    i heard that Lee’s Art in NYC will start selling the ITO-YA pencils very soon. check them out at…

  • Ito-Ya Ginza pencils are available at Flax Art & Design in San Francisco. The store number is available at; you can order via their customer service department.

  • I can’t seem to find any itoya pencils on the web or in stores to buy. I have a few left that I got from a friend who was in Japan. Does anyone have a source in the USA either storefront or internet? Thanks!

  • Robert

    amarie: I do not know of stores in the USA that will offer it directly, but Bundoki and their English offshoot offer them in a couple colors. I haven’t tried them yet, but might pick up a few with my next order, along with one of those Romeo No. 3 models.

    Ack, several of my comments have practically been advertisements for them. I’ve no affiliation with the company; I just happen to be living outside both Japan and the USA, so I tend to order from Bundoki as they have better international options than most others. I wonder if other big Japanese stationers will get with the program and offer international service.

  • nick

    Does anyone know where I can buy these pencils? Is there an online retailer. I have been looking but can’t find them anywhere.

  • Karen Bowden

    Where can I find the re Ito-ya pemcil in San Diego, California?

  • Carl L. Williams

    I ordered two dozen of the Ito-Ya gray matte online; they arrived today. I am very pleased with this pencil: it is elegant in appearance, produces a dark smooth marking which is very important to me, and the attractive black eraser does not leave a smudge. Although I usually prefer pencils in hexagonal because I like the feel of the edges; this pencil’s other pleasing features, however, satisfies me so much that I will put that preference aside.

  • Slim

    Thanks for the info everybody.

    I just called Flax Art and they have them. My organization needs about 50 of them and Flax Art is going to try and see if they could work it out.

    Hope that helps.

  • Becky

    Hi! I know this is a few years ago, but I am looking for these pencils in Chicago and cannot seem to find them anywhere.

    Has anyone had any luck tracking these down recently?

    Thank you!

  • slim

    hi becky,

    flaxart actually never got back to me. if you do call them, could you post back here and let us know what happens? i eventually forgot about these great pencils but with your post, i am reminded of how badly i need to get them.

  • Adrian

    I’ve ordered these a couple months ago from Their service definitely wasn’t the greatest, but the pencils are nice. Here’s the link to the product page

  • Becky

    Hi! Thanks for the help. I just purchased 100 from–I will let you know how they turn out. So far the service has been fine, relatively prompt e-mail responses.

    Before this, I ordered a pack of 12 of the Romeo pencils from Itoya-Topdrawer San Francisco–Itoya’s first store in the US! They just opened a few weeks ago. Although the Romeo pencils were slightly different, the service was incredible and perhaps they will begin to carry the Itoya in the future!

    Thanks again for the quick responses!

  • Elizabeth

    Ito-ya Topdrawer in San Francisco now carries the Ito-ya pencils!

  • Becky

    Ito-ya Top Drawer in San Fran honestly has fabulous customer service–I highly recommend ordering your pencils from here! I will be sure to stop by the store next time I am out west–perhaps you should consider opening a Chicago location!

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