The Midori Traveler's Notebook has been one of my grail notebooks for the longest time. When I started collecting (and using) high-quality notebooks, I read about it at Patrick Ng's Scription site, and instantly fell in love with it. I wanted it, but I knew I could not have one. Yet. It was expensive and not available here in the Philippines. So I just continued to ogle at the thousands of Midori Traveler's Notebook photos on Flickr.
Unknown to me, the Philippines' biggest seller of fountain pen related stuff, Scribe Writing Essentials, has began stocking up and selling this highly coveted cultish notebook. After talking to its owner, Marian Ong, a notebook set was sent to me for review, pronto.
Marian sent me a large black Traveler's Notebook (TN) and I was instantly amazed by its Japanese packaging style, which is both presentation and function. Midori's packaging is minimalist and simple, yet elegant and classy. The notebook is packaged very well inside what looks like a thin box made from kraft paper, held together by a firm black elastic band. A small flyer about the notebook is also included in the packaging.
Inside the box are: large black leather Midori TN, cotton slipcase for the notebook, blank notebook refill (003), and a spare red elastic band to hold the notebook cover and refills. The soft cowhide leather of the Midori notebook/journal (sourced from Chiang Mai, Thailand), and the wide variety of changeable inserts, embellishments and other accessories give it a unique charm and magic.
The first thing on my mind when I saw my Midori TN is the paper used in the notebook refill. Paper is very important to me as I am a regular user of fountain pens. And I am ready and willing to forego any notebook if the paper cannot tolerate my very wet fountain pens and very saturated inks. Would it stand fountain pen use? Or would ink feather and bleed through its pages? Luckily for Midori TN, I knew that I can make my own refills, so paper is not an issue, but I'll discuss that towards the later part of this review.
The blank notebook refill has a kraft board cover and 64 pages of cream-colored paper . The inside cover page is printed with an upright rectangular box and the Midori logo.
As soon as the notebook was out of the box, it's customization galore!!! The first thing I did was to change the elastic bands. I opted to use the red band to give the notebook some contrast and brightness. The tiny round thing on the upper left corner of the notebook cover holds the elastic bands that keep the notebook inserts in place.
I rummaged through my boxes of stuff and found a small glass bead charm I could use to secure the end of the Midori TN's thin bookmark. Lovely, isn't it?
Next, I made my own refills using pages off my large Rhodia dotPad. I went to a printer, had them saddle-stapled several notebooks, and trimmed according to the Midori TN refill size. I recycled Starbucks paper bags as covers for my new refill notebooks. I had fun making Dymo tags for them too.
The first notebook is for lists of everything I have done and finished the whole day -- an inverted 'to-do' list.
The second refill is for my notes. Any notes. Blog ideas, project concepts, sketches, hand drawn maps, phone numbers, pen and paper stores, ink notes, restaurant bestsellers, etc.
Refill number three is a microjournal, called so because I have a full journal already. I just want to have a journal in my Midori TN. I have small writeups in this notebook about places I visited, postcards I received, books I've read, or movies I've watched.
I have also included Midori's plastic zipper pocket refill. This refill has one large zippered pocket and another pocket without a zipper. The zippered pocket can hold a lot of stuff, especially small pieces of paper such as receipts, stamps, business cards. Sometimes I put a pen or two inside and still manage to zip it. The pocket without zipper can accommodate bigger sizes of paper like postcards, prescription notes, etc.
Perhaps you've noticed that I've added another bookmark to my Midori TN with a new charm. I made one more bookmark for my "Finished/Done" notebook, as the original bookmark/charm is used on my microjournal. I love these charms!
But the customization does not end there for my Midori TN. It's now full of stickers and stuff (stamps, tea bag tags, postcards, etc. I know there will be more of these as the leather
gets more scratches and scuffs softens with use and becomes more beautiful.
Finally, the paper test. The refill that came with my Midori TN is blank. As I have difficulty writing on blank pages, I went ahead and ordered a ruled/lined refill which is what I used in the pen and ink test below. The cream-colored paper used in the ruled/lined refill is Midori paper. There are two types of paper used on Midori's notebook refills. One is Midori Diary (MD) Paper, the other is Designphil Pocket Book (DP) Paper. A note in the Midori website (here) gives a full explanation on the differences of the two paper types.
Midori Paper is smooth and thankfully fountain pen friendly. Some ink types showed feathering, but not one of all the inks I tested here bled.
Below is the back of the pen and ink test I did. There is not bleeding at all. The tiny blob of orange is show through, but it is very mild and not very noticeable. I say I'll be using this refill for another microjournal when my own refills ran out of pages.
I've kept the red elastic band for now and rotate several black bands with different combinations of trinkets and charms. One band has a small pewter elephant, another has a series of different color beads with a drop of olive green Swarovski stones, rescued from an earring without a matching pair. I've also changed charms since, and I have ordered a batch of lovely charms from a local supplier. I have stocked up on black elastic band from a local crafts store and just yesterday, I got a set of vintage letterstamps I'll use for more fun of notebook customizations. Will I use this notebook for how long it will be serviceable? Yes. With a notebook as versatile as the Midori TN, who wouldn't? The possibilities with the Midori Traveler's Notebook is excitingly never-ending!
The large Midori Traveler's Notebook used in this review is courtesy of Scribe Writing Essentials, and the regular, passport size notebooks and their refills are all available in their Eastwood City Mall store. A regular/large Midori Traveler's Notebook set sells for PHP2,595 (~US$61), while a passport-sized notebook costs PHP2,295 (~US$54). If you are somewhere in Asia, and would like to try the possibility of ordering from them, give them a call at +63 2 487 6339.