The Life Japanese Stationery brand of handmade notebooks, writing paper, and other products have become a firm favorite of mine over the last couple of years. I regularly pick up products from my two favorite Toronto stationers, the terrific Take Note (though not so much for buying online), and the all-round amazing Wonder Pens.
Both stock the Life range of products, and what one doesn’t have in stock, you can usually find in the other if you’re desperate. On this occasion, I bought two of the rather excellent Life Noble Note A5 notebooks. Liz at Wonder Pens has this to say about them:
The company continues to make its notebooks by hand, resulting in a touch of old world quality. These notebooks are beautiful – something to stand apart from the standard black notebooks with super fountain pen friendly paper.
Liz, May 7, 2013
Life Japanese Stationery Noble Note Ruled Book
I bought two A5 (148mm x 210mm; 5.8 x 8.3in), ruled notebooks, although they’re also available in B5 (250 x 176mm; 9.8 x 6.9in), and B6 (176 x 125mm; 6.9 x 4.9in) sizes. I intended to keep both of them, but one, plus a Life A5 brown notebook cover, went to my daughter when she told me how much she enjoyed writing… so we’re unlikely to be reviewing the cover any time soon.
I enjoyed this notebook so much, I filled it within a few weeks (the label on the spine says Epidemiology Notes, but I think it was a bit more than just those). The notebook is a curious arrangement of smaller books, assembled with a stitched spine, to provide 100 sheets (200 sides) of beautifully smooth, heavy paper, that easily matches big names like Rhodia for quality.
The stitched spine allows for repeated creasing to lay the notebook flat on your desk, with absolutely no appreciable damage/wear. This is a well-made product, with serious attention to detail. Every now and then, you’ll also notice the blue, divider strip, which marks where each of the smaller booklets have been collected together to make the whole…
Pages aren’t white, but they aren’t a very pronounced cream either, instead they have a nice, subtle shade of off-white, which I think compliments most strong ink colors beautifully.
Pages seen here have been written on using a combination of TWSBI broad, Edison Collier 1.1mm stub, and Sailor 1911L broad nibs, with J. Herbin Perle Noire ink, and maybe some Sailor carbon black, with no noticeable bleed or feathering. The scan below, shows a genuine page of my Epidemiology 101 notes, you’ll just have to excuse the scrappy handwriting, and the lousy note-taking…
This shows a nice variation in ink from different nib sizes, and the paper behaves itself wonderfully. Pity the same can’t be said for my handwriting, or note-taking.
Lastly, the soft cover of these notebooks has allowed me to feed them into a variety of leather covers that were designed specifically for other products.
I won’t show or say any more about the rather attractive, and seriously high-quality, handmade leather cover that this notebook is in above. Except to say that it only cost about $33.00 Canadian, and I’ll be talking about it in more detail at a later date.
So that about wraps it up for the Life Noble Notebook…
It’s an A5, ruled notebook, with seriously high quality paper. It’s durable, well-constructed and well-behaved no matter where you take it, or how you ab/use it. Mine have seen service on airplane seat-back trays, canoes, and office desks. They lay flat (which is a bug I definitely have about most notebooks), whether you’re working at the front of the book, the middle, or the end, and it looks great. At the time of writing this review, they’re about $21.00 Canadian before taxes, not real expensive, but not exactly cheap either; but then, quality rarely is, is it?