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Friday, February 8, 2013

Midori Traveler's Notebook



The Midori Traveler's Notebook is something I heard about very early on in my fountain pen journey, but I never quite understood the hype until I actually got one in my hands a few weeks ago. Now that I've had the time to learn the whole "system", I see how cool these things really are, and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you here.

Here's what I cover in the video:
  • Traveler's Notebook "unboxing" (1:23)
  • Replacing the outer strap (2:55)
  • Notebook dimensions (4:19)
  • Accessories, replacement binding straps, adhesive pocket inserts, business card holders (6:00)
  • Pen loop (7:50)
  • How the notebook is assembled (10:00)
  • Putting two notebooks inside (11:55)
  • Putting three notebooks inside (14:32)
  • Testing the paper (17:50)

The essence of the Traveler's Notebook is a removable paper notebook, wrapped in a thick flap of leather, held by an elastic band. That's the very abbreviated version of what it entails. But it's really more than that, because of the accessories it has available.

There are two different sizes of notebooks, available in black or brown. The leather is tanned using tannins from plants, but it does have kind of a strong smell at first. Once it airs out for a couple of weeks, the strong smell goes away and you get that awesome leather smell. The overall look of the notebook is very rustic, it very much feels like the kind of thing you'd take with you on an excursion. The notebook will undoubtedly build up more character over time, as you knick and scratch the leather, and wear away the edges of the paper a little bit. It will get its own stamp of personality based on how you use it.

Midori Traveler's Notebook, black Regular (with red band, it also includes a black band)

Midori Traveler's Notebook, brown Regular with Lamy Charcoal Safari for perspective (not included!)

Midori Traveler's Notebook, brown Regular (also includes orange band)

Midori Traveler's Notebook, brown Passport inside back cover

Midori Traveler's Notebook, brown Passport with alternate orange band

Midori Traveler's Notebook, black Passport with Lamy Charcoal Safari for perspective (not included!) 
Midori Traveler's Notebook, in its packaging...a notebook in a bag in a bag in a sleeve in a box! This is the box ;) 


You can put one, two, or three notebooks in it, and add things like pocket inserts, pen loops, zippered pouches, and business card holders. Because of all of the unique things you can add to your notebook, it makes it a highly personalized system with a lot of utility and flexibility.

Midori Traveler's Notebook, brown Passport loaded up with two notebooks

Adhesive pocket placed inside a Passport notebook

Removable pocket placed inside Passport notebook

Removable zipper pocket inside Regular notebook

Midori Traveler's Notebook pen loop holding a Lamy Charcoal Safari

Removable zipper pocket in a Passport notebook

How the sleeves fit behind the notebook, holds firm but easy to install and remove when needed


There are several different types of paper, and they're basically all really good. They're surprisingly fountain pen friendly (I was expecting there to be some typical bleed through and possibly feathering), I am honestly impressed with how the paper handles. There are different variations of white, ivory, and kraft paper, with blank, 5x5 graph, 6.5mm lined, and perforated. I don't have information about the specific paper weights, but they seem to be somewhere around 70-80g, with the exception of the sketchbook (100g or so) and the thin paper (around 60g, I'd guess). The combinations of all these details aren't infinite, and it's a whole lot to try to cover it all here. Check out GouletPens.com for the full paper dimensions and details.

I tried to be as complete as I could in the video, so you can understand how the system works as a whole. I didn't go into great detail about all of the specific notebooks and accessories because it's just way too much to try to cover at once. If you have any specific questions about anything, just ask me in the comments. I plan to shoot some follow-up videos in the future, as time allows me to do so.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

39 comments:

  1. I *just* bought one of these from a competitor of yours. I wish I had given you the money instead! At least I can buy inserts and accessories from my favorite stationary place now :)

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  2. I was SO excited to see you are carrying the Midori notebooks now! I discovered these last year and have one of each size now. They are great little books and do only improve with age, as you say. Highly recommended. I always have one of the small ones in my pocket along with a pocket sized fountain pen.

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  3. Been using this for a number of years now and it has indeed become an extension of my mind, and developed a character all of it's own.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/102996764444170064113/NotebookAndPenSelection?authuser=0&feat=directlink

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  4. Is there any explanation of why the know for the closure elastic is located right in the middle of the back? Seems like it would be like writing on a ball bearing.

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  5. this is killer. i'm so excited you guys are carrying this stuff. Do you plan to carry the standard refill notebook in the larger size? (#003)

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  6. I, too, am really pleased you are carrying these. I thought about getting one some months ago but didn't get how they worked from available info on the web. As always, your video was so helpful.

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  7. I really like my Midoris. Been using them for a while now and will give some of my thoughts on them here.

    1. Lead Crimp: Be aware that if you use the notebook on top of any paper the lead crimp will leave a greyish mark on the paper beneath it. I've removed the crimp and just go with a neatly trimmed knot in the elastic. I does mean a bit more work to get the bookmark string knotted in place though.

    2. Knot in back: This is not NEARLY as big a problem as I thought it would be. Tighten the knot to get it smaller and trim the excess.

    3.I usually put 2 books inside the cover. My technique is a bit different from Brian's. First attach the 2 books with the elastic in their middles. Then slip them under the cover elastic so that the cover elastic is between book 1's back cover and book 2's front cover. That way the edges line up neatly. Also easy to then transition to a 3 book setup without removing the other 2.

    4. Paper. I am not a huge fan of Midori paper. Fear not. BanditApple books work as perfect replacements on the big cover. For the passport size, I am still trying to find the correct replacement. I know banditapple DOES have one, but it seems to be a more elusive item.

    I have 2 large covers, each with 2 books inside. One for work, one for my private stuff. I also have the passport size for day to day stuff when I go shopping etc. All in all, you wont go wrong with whatever setup you choose.

    PS Almost forgot. If you want to use this for work I would strongly suggest you take a look at the Chronodex system by Patrick Ng. (http://scription.typepad.com/blog/2011/11/scription-chronodex-weekly-planner-2012-free-download-with-the-cost-of-a-prayer.html) Self print and bind and slip them into your Midori. The system wont work for everyone, but for some people it becomes an invaluable tool.

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  8. I'd been admiring these from afar for quite some time and, after fondling the package in several stores during our anniversary trip to Tokyo, my better half insisted I buy one already. [grin]

    Right out of the package the leather feels immediately warm and comfortable. I think the simple leather cover, the leather crimp and the uneven edge when multiple notebooks are used speaks to the Japanese "wabi-sabi" aesthetic (beauty in the imperfection and incomplete.)

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  9. Hi Brian,

    not that it matters much; but the correct pronunciation for Leuchtturm is "lo-ee-ho-tourm"

    http://bildwoerterbuch.com/static/us/pronunciation/index/all/560/1029

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  10. Aw, dang ;) That's okay. We actually had these for several weeks before making them available for sale. We wanted to make sure we understood how the system worked, had time to take our own good pictures, and shoot a video.

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  11. Awesome :) I'm eager to get mine broken in!

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  12. That's a good question. I have no idea.

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  13. Absolutely, but we were backordered on it. We initially didn't want to list anything that was backordered until we at least had it in to take pictures of it, but we went ahead and did list them. Here's that specific refill: http://www.gouletpens.com/Midori_Travelers_Notebook_Refill_Regular_Blank_p/tn14247006.htm

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  14. Great! I'm glad to hear my video was helpful, I knew the information available was sparse, and wanted to put it together in my own way. : )

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  15. Thanks so much for all of your advice, Neels! That's a great point about the notebook arrangement, it seems there are a lot of ways to accomplish putting multiple notebooks inside. I had someone on YouTube tell me how they put 2 and 3 notebooks in without using anything more than the elastic straps already on the notebook. I think notebook/strap configurations may warrant a whole separate follow-up video for me.

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  16. There is definitely a beauty about this notebook that appeals to my rustic side. I do really appreciate things made with precision (electronics, shiny pens, etc), but I'm also a wood worker and I appreciate more natural/imperfect things such as simple flaps of leather!

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  17. Yeah...I do the best I can but I'm sure to Americanize most of the foreign pronunciations of the products I handle. I'm sorry about that...

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  18. I just bought one from a retailer in Europe about a week before this video was released, after looking around on the web for a while to get familiar with this Traveler's Notebooks that seemed so cool. I do love mine a lot. I found out Midori seems to have a really big fan base out there, especially in the East obviously! Check out these photos of Traveler's Notebook owners meetings, where, I gathered (I don't read or speak Japanese, sorry), they show each other their customizations and play around with stationary: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rocketman3/sets/72157631800744858/ Awesome, right? I feel like such a geek, but I love seeing what other people make with theirs! I also really like pictures by this girl from South Korea,Linda (you'll find pics of the Midori store in Seoul in there too): http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindasnote/sets/72157630023260887/ Make me want to be creative. Just thought you guys might be interested!

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  19. Wow, that's awesome!! It's so cool to see how everyone personalizes them, it's definitely a notebook with a cult following.

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  20. So fantastic that you are carrying these now! The paper really is surprisingly resistant -- even the extra-thin paper notebook refill handles fountain pen ink without bleed-through (at least with a fine nib which is what I normally use). And the regular notebook paper can even handle light watercolor as long as you aren't working too wet. The one thing I notice with this paper is that it does take fountain pen ink just a little bit longer to dry than on other papers. So it's a good idea to keep a blotting sheet to insert between pages if you are writing and have to pack up and go quickly. It took me awhile to get used to it but now that I am I absolutely love mine -- glad to know I can come to you for refills now! Will you be carrying the extra-thin plain paper refills?

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  21. Quick question, I was just wondering how thick the leather actually was? Thanks.

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  22. Thank you for the nice and instructive video, Brian.
    I learned about MTN recently. Fortunately there is a dealer of Midori in the town I live and the only one in the country. I bought both colors of the classic size and some spare inserts at the beginning of January. Since that day that beautiful notebook is my companion everywhere. I do not know how can I exist 60 y. without it... :-)
    Thanks again for sharing...

    BTW, I have discovered your web today. Nice place, I am going to visit frequently.

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  23. I was pleasantly surprised myself! I know that Japanese paper is typically good, but wow, I didn't expect it to perform as well as it does, especially the thin stuff! Yes, we do have the thin refills, but they're only available in the Regular size, not Passport.

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  24. I'm glad you were able to find your dream notebook after so long 0:)

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  25. It's pretty thick...I don't remember the exact thickness, but probably about 3ml.

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  26. I just picked up this nice little notebook after having eyed it for quite some time now. I have to say I enjoyed not only this video, but many of your others as well. And to give back for all the work you put into your videos, I figured i could help you out with the Japanese translation for fun.

    The included Japanese notice talks about the leather, it's care, and things to be aware of. First off, they thank you for purchasing this traveler's notebook.

    Then they go on to inform you that in order to have the leather keep it's natural and original feel and character, a natural dye is used. Because of this, the natural coloring of the leather may rub off on clothing or bags if the leather is wet, dirty or rubbed up against. So if it is dirtied or wet, you can dab off the water or dirt with a soft cloth. DO NOT wash the entire cover in water and DO NOT use a benzine thinner to remove stains! When storing your notebook for safekeeping, clean off excess sweat, water, and dirt and place it in a place that has good ventilation to prevent the leather from molding!! One final thing to be careful of, is placing it up against other leather or vinyl goods. This could result in colors being transferred or some discoloration in the leather.

    Upon unsealing your notebook, there might be some white powder or dust on the surface of the leather. This is due to a temperature change causing an oil in the leather to stand out. You can take care of this with a hair dryer and warm the surface, or take a cloth and wipe it. To have the leather keep its feel and character, it has not undergone any extensive processing. When first using your notebook, the leather may sustain scratches and nicks. After using this traveler's notebook for a time, the leather will take on a shine or luster and the feel and style will change a great deal. As a bonus, the scratches will not stand out as much, and the oil smell will fade. For those who are overly concerned about scratches to the cover, you can use mink oil made for leather maintenance. The color of the leather will deepen and scratches will no longer stand out. (for brown: the color will become darker. You can test this on a less obvious part of the leather.)
    The knot of the rubber band can be changed and adjusted. Please feel free to adjust it to a desired length.

    Sorry for the long post, just wanted to make sure i didn't leave anything out. A quick summary didn't seem to do the notice justice.
    Thanks for reading,
    Cyrus

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  27. Anyone know what other notebooks fit into the Midori passport? I know that standard sized (3.5x5.5 inch) cahiers are slightly too big as midori wants 3.5x5 inch notebooks.

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  28. I don't know any small notebooks that will fit the Passport MTN perfectly, but in the Regular, a Banditapple Handy will fit perfectly.

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  29. Thanks for all the clarification! I appreciate your compliments, and your help with the translation :)

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  30. I know I'm late to the conversation, but I have to know: how long does it take for the smell to dissipate? Any advice on how to help the process along? Thanks for all your awesome videos. I'd been wanting this for forever, and you finally pushed me over the edge. Thanks for your advice ahead of time.

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  31. This is a fantastic video: you touch all the details I'd investigate myself when stumbling upon this specific notebook. Thanks, dude!

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  32. Thanks! That's great to hear, I was shooting for a fairly comprehensive vid : )

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  33. Thanks so much! I'm glad I was able to help you out. I know I didn't have a clue what was going on with this whole system before getting it in my own hands, so I was thrilled to be able to get to put together a video that made sense of it all. It's the kind of thing that is hard to understand just by reading about it, but then when you see it for yourself, you go "oohhhhhhhh" ;)

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  34. How does the Midori hold up if you're not writing on a table or desk? If you're out somewhere and you don't have something to write on, can you hold it in one hand and write with the other?

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  35. Scout Books makes 3.5 x 5, I've seen others as well, keep looking.

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  36. I am so thrilled that you are carrying Midori now. No more long waits and questionable fund transfers to overseas suppliers. You are doing a wonderful job for those of us who prefer to chronicle our lives the good old fashioned creative way!

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