Paper Review: Tomoe River Products

When I started with my first fountain pen, I began by using a journal I had purchased years and years earlier.  It was a lovely, wire-bound journal that would lay completely flat when open, with thick, lined paper. And it worked just fine for how I was using it.  Over the coming months, as I filled in that journal, I continued buying pens and ink, but not really any additional paper products.  It wasn’t until I finished up that journal a few months after I bought that first pen, and attempted to purchase a new journal, that I realized that not all paper was created equal. I found a beautiful, leather-bound journal at my local Barnes & Noble, took it home, and sat down to write the day’s journal entry…and the ink wouldn’t stick to the paper.  At all. It would just bead up on the surface, and it would wipe right off, even after hours of dry time.

So, I started doing research. (It’s kind of my modus operandi: have a bad experience, hop on Google to figure out how to fix it.)  That’s when I discovered the term “fountain pen-friendly.”  Some paper could handle the water-based fountain pen ink better than others.  So I started buying. And experimenting.  I got my first Rhodia journal, and loved it.  I tried journals from Leuchtturm1917. I bought stationery from Clairefontaine.  I have a whole drawer full of various paper products: notebooks, journals, writing pads.

As I immersed myself into the forums a bit more, though, a name kept popping up: Tomoe River.  Almost everyone who used this paper practically glowed when discussing it.  In the many months since then, it has become synonymous with the term “fountain pen-friendly.”  I always meant to buy some, but there aren’t a lot of places that have it in stock here in the United States, and I had so many other notebooks to fill up first.

Well, when named the Tomoe River Hardbound Journal from as their product of the year for 2013, I figured it was time to give the paper a try.  So, I purchased a single 8.5×11″ Cream writing pad.

Y’all, I’m not generally one to gush enthusiastically about anything, but the instant I put the pen to the paper, I knew my days of buying anything else were pretty much over. At an extremely svelte 52gsm, this paper is about half the weight of Clairefontaine paper, but is even more fountain pen friendly. I haven’t ever had ink bleed or feather on this paper. It sheens beautifully. (Seriously. You think your ink sheens a lot? You ain’t seen nothing ’til you seen it sheen on Tomoe River.) It’s quite smooth, but not glassy. It is a beautiful, beautiful paper.

I go over this a bit more in depth in the video review, but since then, I have had the opportunity to try a few more of the products from

Writing Pads: The PfFP writing pads come in two sizes (8.5×11″ and 6.125×8.625″) and two different colors (cream and white).  The smaller size comes in 3-packs of 100 sheets each, while the larger sizes comes as a single notebook of 100 sheets.  The pads are glue-bound, with a cardboard backer and a colored cardstock cover which tears off.  The pages tear off from the rubberized glue “binding” easily, making these pads that one would use for letter-writing, but not necessarily as one would use a notebook.

Blank Books: The PfFP black books come in only one size at this time (4.9 x 8″ page size with a  5.25 x 8.25″ cover size) but come with either cream or white paper.  The books, which are beautifully bound, come with 320 pages (160 sheets) of paper, but with the paper being so light, the books are remarkably thin.  The quality of the binding is pretty spectacular, with the unbranded cover made of a blue plasticized fabric.  They actually remind me a lot of the binding you find on library editions of the back-issues of periodicals, or the children’s books I used to check out when I was a child.  It’s pretty obvious that these books were built to last.

The journals don’t lay completely flat, but can be coaxed to lay almost completely flat without much effort.  Because the paper is so thin, if you’re the kind of writer who uses any pressure at all, you will leave an imprint of your writing on the next page (or two), but if you’re writing with no pressure you should have no problem.

When it comes to these journals, I only really have a couple of complaints.  First, I with the book came with a ribbon placeholder.  I use a lined under-sheet between pages to help me write with straight lines, and I end up using that to hold my place. But I would prefer to have a nicely attached ribbon as well.  Secondly, I wish the books came in Dot Grid as well as blank. This is a minor issue, since I do use that under-sheet.

I haven’t yet had an opportunity to purchase Tomoe River products from the other retailers that carry them, but I can say without hesitation that I love the products I have purchased from  They are really, really fantastic.  I’m hooked.

From March 4, 2014-March 22, 2014, The Pen Habit will be hosting a giveaway for a $60 prize package of Tomoe River products generously donated by  Click here to learn more.

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  • Dionne

    When I started getting into fountain pens I also found out about fountain pen friendly paper, so no really bad papers other then the moleskine journal and cheap printer paper.

  • Scrib

    Love the fun intro on this one!

  • Denise Rogers

    Heath wrote me a letter on this with a Lamy pen using a 1.5 italic nib and Private Reserve Plum ink; it was beautiful!

  • Don

    Great review! Also, thanks for linking to a seller in the US. I have read about this paper before on FPN, but I could never find a place to buy it. I am going to have to order some. I think it would be a lot of fun playing with the show-through for sketches.

  • Georgayne Adams

    Great review! I have been keeping a daily journal for a couple of years now and started a new one in November 2013 using the new PfFP bound journals. In a few days it will be time to start a second one. There is no looking back for me and will continue to use these as long as I am able to write and Jay continues to make. I use both sides of the paper with no issues and realized soon enough that I could write a straight line (smile), so could give up the grid.

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  • Tobias

    Does anyone got a hint, where I can buy this in Europe, especially Germany? Shipping at is nearly the same price as one notebook…

    • Martine van Heijnsbergen

      Did you find an European store?

    • Vladislav Sukhmel

      Same here, any luck with EU store?

  • Great review! I immediately purchased some after watching this video and I absolutely LOVE it! Thanks Matt.

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