Blog

Trip to Misuzudo Bindery showroom, Tokyo

On my third day in Tokyo, the first paper-related stop was Misuzudo Bindery

Based on information I translated from their website, we knew that we were headed to the second floor. Once we got there, we were greeted by a nondescript hallway with lots of doors. I had no idea where to go. We peered into one open door and I spied a tabletop letterpress – that must be the place!

But it wasn’t. Someone came out and told us that we had to go through TAKEO (a store on the first floor) to access the stairwell to Misuzudo Bindery.

We went back downstairs, exited the building, and reentered through the very drool-worthy TAKEO showroom (I’ll be talking about that part of the trip in another post).

Singular in my mission, I headed for the staircase at the back of the store.

Signage for the Misuzudo Store

Up the stairs we went. I was so excited to visit a Japanese bindery!

Except it turned out that it wasn’t a bindery. It was a showroom. The bindery is actually located in Nagano.

[insert letdown here]

Yep, I was bummed, but I was determined to make the best of it and started exploring the showroom.

The space was huge – very white and very sparse. White tables and benches occupied the center of the room and the walls were lined with shelves. One side of the room housed handmade books, bookbinding tools, and other related items. The other side of the room had a display of assorted publications. 

I later learned that Misuzudo only occupies part of the space – TAKEO manages the rest of it, hosting exhibitions related to the themes of paper and design. Misuzudo offers bookbinding workshops there on an irregular basis.

At this point I should mention that in preparation for my trip, I printed out some sentences that I wanted to be able to say in Japanese. I used Google Translate to do it. Were the translations accurate? Who knows – I just hoped for the best.

Here’s an example:

Japanese translation of "I am a bookbinder."

Among my other translations:

  • I love paper.
  • I have been making books for 21 years.
  • Thank you for your hospitality.
  • I have a dog named Wiggum. He is a standard poodle. (that one proved useless)

And now, back to Misuzudo. A sales clerk came up to me and started speaking Japanese. I pulled out my page of translations and slowly told her that I was a bookbinder. Her eyes lit up!

For the next 20 minutes, she spoke quickly in Japanese, motioning with her hands and demonstrating how to use the different tools. And you know what? I understood what she was talking about. 

It seems that bookbinding is totally its own language. We discussed the perfect binding and how a letterpress had been used for some of their products. For the few times we got stuck, my hubby would use the Google Translate app on his phone to help us along. 

It was amazing. Seriously – I can’t put into words just how fulfilling that experience was for me. The clerk was such a sweetheart and a trooper for working through the language barrier.

I decided to take home this nifty bamboo folder (like this one at Washi Arts). It’s pretty solid, 5/16″ at its thickest point:

Bamboo folder

Bamboo folder

I also picked up these sweet letterpressed buttons (get them for yourself):

Letterpressed buttons by Kazui Press

Oh, and against my better judgment, I bought another book:

Japanese bookbinding book, ISBN 978-4-309-27682-3

Making Stationery Items with Misuzudo Bookbinding Studio

This book, written by Misuzudo, is updated from an earlier version. It immediately dives into one of twelve projects, which include both books and other enclosures. Instructions (in Japanese) are accompanied by photos and diagrams. Dimensions for all supplies are noted. At the end of the book is an overview of tools and materials, and general bookbinding tips. ISBN: 978-4-309-27682-3.

Note: You may have noticed how few photos are included in this post. That’s because I got so caught up in my discussion with the sales clerk that I forgot to take pictures (grrrr…). Luckily, you can see a picture of the showroom here (it’s the third picture in the slideshow).

If you’d like to visit the Misuzudo showroom yourself, here’s where it is and how to get there:

  • Address: 3-18-3 Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
  • Phone: 03-5282-3265
  • Public Transportation: 8 minute walk from the Hanzomon Line/Toei Mita Line/Toei Shinjuku Line: Jinbocho Station (exit A9); 8 minute walk from the Tozai Line: Takebashi Station (exit 3B/KKR exit); 8 minute walk from the Chiyoda Line: Shinochanomizu Station/Toei Shinjuku Line: Ogawamachi Station (exit B7); 15 minute walk from the JR Chuo Line/Sobu Line: Ochanomizu Station (Ochanomizubashi exit)

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 10

4 Responses to “Trip to Misuzudo Bindery showroom, Tokyo”

By daria wilber - 11 July 2016 Reply

Elissa, You are the ultimate tour guide! Your excitement and enthusiasm are palpable! Thank you for taking the time to share your adventures in such detail. Let us know how you like working with the bamboo bone folder. daria

By Elissa - 11 July 2016 Reply

Daria –

I haven’t used the bone folder yet, although I do keep picking it up because I like how it feels in my hand. Hopefully that will translate into actual use.

We’ll see!

Elissa

By artaylor - 12 July 2016 Reply

Thanks for posting! I’m enjoying going on your trip with you! -Anne

By Elissa - 12 July 2016 Reply

Anne –

There’s more coming (so.much.more) – stay tuned!

Elissa

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This