Today I set off on my own to find the magical and elusive Traveler’s Factory in Kami-meguro, Tokyo. It involved boarding a train line I’d never taken before, and true to form I did get a little turned around. I found the place eventually, though, and feasted my eyes in real life on what I’d only ever seen in photographs.
Walking through those doors was an amazing experience. But I was surprised to see how small the place actually is. Not counting the cafe upstairs, it’s actually not much bigger than the store in Narita Airport. I was also surprised, stationery fiend that I am, to find myself not wanting everything I laid eyes on. I walked through the little store but found myself passing by more things than I picked up.
Before we left for Tokyo, I had decided that I definitely wanted the camel notebook cover, but that I would wait to buy it because it is way cheaper in Japan. However, when I saw it in person I decided I was perfectly happy with the dark brown cover and didn’t see any reason to switch. There were plenty of cute things, but very few I felt I would die without buying. Don’t get me wrong – I still spent about $100 but it was on things I didn’t expect to want.
Honestly, the whole experience was kind of underwhelming. I had expected something magical to happen, some kind of analog epiphany, but despite lots of lovely things, it was just a store. Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe it’s the kind of thing you need to experience with a stationery-loving friend by your side. Either way, I spent maybe 15 minutes there and then I was done.
I’ll enjoy the things I bought, but I actually don’t think I’ll pine after the place once we leave Japan. And it kind of makes me feel like a traitor to my tribe of paper lovers and MTN enthusiasts, but I’d rather tell the truth then paint this magical picture to fool someone else into thinking their life won’t be complete unless they see the Traveler’s Factory.
Am I glad I went? Absolutely. Do I need to go again? Nope. The only things I’d still need are the refills, which I can get for the same price at the much-closer Tokyu Hands in Ikebukuro. (Only around ¥300 per refill, less than half what we pay in the US.)
I did get some pretty cool stuff and I’m glad I went if only for the experience of actually seeing the place, but there were no unicorns or doors to other worlds or anything like that. In the end, it turns out that one of the greatest things about the Midori Traveler’s Notebook isn’t the store it comes from – it’s the community of people online who share their pages and encourage each other to continue their journeys.
Keep on traveling, friends.