Japanese stationery and school supplies are famed for their high quality, smooth functionality and hip coolness. They can also be, well, kinda weird. It's the latter aspect that we'll focus on in this post, because there's nothing like arriving at a new school on the first day and standing out like a sore thumb, right kiddies?
1) Converse All-Star Pencil Case
Converse, founded in 1908, introduced the first high-top canvas basketball shoes in 1917. It's taken them another 93 years to roll out the official Converse All-Star Pencil Case. Available in a wide range of colors, this sole-full pencil case securely holds, pens, pencils and other small stationery supplies, closing with a zipper. Hey, I want zippers on my basketball shoes!
2) World's Edgiest Eraser
Regular, pink brick erasers not edgy enough for ya? Japan has something for that: a bizarre, cubist eraser that boasts 28 corners and more straight edges than Gillette's next razor. Never again will you be caught smudging up an important paper and, as a result, ruining a promising career before it even starts. The Kadokeshi Plastic Eraser from Kokuyo comes in white, pink and blue – they even have a mini version that hangs on your cell phone, just in case you're called upon to do some ultra-fine erasing.
3) Donut Scotch Tape Dispensers
Ever felt hungry in class? Ever caused heads to turn due to your increasingly noisy stomach growling? If you answered yes, the Donut Scotch Tape Dispenser is NOT going to solve either of these issues – just the opposite, in fact. Good luck acing that math test scheduled just before lunch hour with this pretty, colorful donut taunting you from your desktop. Mmm, donuts. Yechh, math. (You can find these donut dispensers in the U.S. here.)
4) Coffin Carrier
Maybe the film The Breakfast Club was made too early to include a Goth but we bet your school includes more than a few, what with Twilight and the whole chic vampire aesthetic thing. The Coffin Carrier from Village Vanguard packs a load of Goth coolness while carrying more school supplies than Carrie White on exam day. (You can find a similar coffin carrier here in the U.S.)
5) PENCUT Scissors Pen
The somewhat uncomfortably named Pencut offers users a safe way to carry around – even run with – scissors while catering to kids' love of transforming objects. A twist here, a bend there, and a perfectly functional pair of shears morphs into what looks like an average ballpoint pen. It doesn't write, however... though you can be sure someone somewhere in Japan is working on it.
6) Supermarket Notebooks
If the Donut Tape Dispensers don't do you in, these Supermarket Notebook Covers surely will. Available in Norway Salmon, Pea, New Zealand Beef and USA Fat Beef (hey!), these realistic, non-caloric notebook covers will add a dash of taste to your note-taking. Organic Chemistry never looked so good!
7) Animal Paper Clips
The humble paper clip is perhaps the ultimate example of the Form Follows Function design diktat, but why? Must all our paper clips look alike? Even more important, why can't you ever find one when you need one? But I digress – these Japanese animal paper clips are cool, creative and look like pigs, cats, turtles, crocodiles, birds, penguins, dolphins, ducks, whales and squirrels. Call it “Farm Follows Function”, heh.
8) Clothespin Pencil
Japanese designer Yuta Watanabe created this unusual pencil that looks outwardly like a common clothespin. Why, we can't say... and my guess is the Clothespin Pencil isn't the most comfortable writing instrument one could choose to use. It also doesn't have a built-in eraser, so if you forget your Pink Pearl and screw up a test question, you just might be hung out to dry.
9) Sushi Staplers
Don't know about you, but the thought of bringing my fist down upon a fresh, juicy, slab of raw fish on sweetened rice is disturbing at least, gross at best. No matter, these Sushi Staplers provide all of the thrill with none of the mess. Choose from Salmon, Shrimp or Tuna in the U.S. here – that was easy!
10) Keyboard Style 10 Key Calculator
Is that a keyboard in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? maybe both, thanks to the 10 Key Calculator by Japanese designer Takumi. This curious device combines the functions of an pocket calculator with the look & feel of a computer keyboard. Bonus: it comes with a USB cable so you can hook it up to your laptop or desktop computer... you don't really NEED to, but you can, and that's cool.
And there you have it. Load up your Coffin Carrier with this eclectic selection of weird & bizarre Japanese school supplies and you're bound to make an impression, if only on a gaggle of weird & bizarre Japanese schoolgirls... not that this is a bad thing!