fountain pen friendly life bank paper

Fountain Pen Paper Review – Life Bank Paper

John BosleyReviews 6 Comments

Life Bank Paper is a writing paper made by the Japanese paper manufacturer Life. While you may have heard of Life paper products, their Noble Note paper is generally what most people use and is found in the premium Life notebooks. I had never heard of the Bank Paper, so when I found it I was curious as to how it would work with fountain pens. I am a big fan of their premium Noble paper, so I knew if the Bank Paper was similar I was in for a treat. Not only that, but the Bank Paper is a notepad, which makes it ideal for letter writing.

The Details

  • Sheets: 100
  • Paper Weight: 90gsm
  • Binding: Glue
  • Page Style: Blank
  • Size: A5

Ink-handling characteristics

  • Sheen: High
  • Shading: High
  • Bleeding: Very Low
  • Ghosting: Medium
  • Feathering: Very Low
  • Dry Time: Medium

Other features

  • Red or White cover
  • Included blotter paper

Life Bank Paper Writing Paper

This paper comes in a pad of 100 white sheets and is approximately A5 sized (it’s slightly shorter on the long side). The sheets are glued across the top, which means you tear off each sheet of paper as needed. It also includes a piece of removable blotting paper inside the front cover. Speaking of the cover, it is extremely classy looking. It has a nice texture and the words are printed in black and outlined in gold.

life bank paper cover

The cover is very ornate and beautiful.

The paper itself is white, but not a solid white, which means you can easily see a ruled sheet underneath it. I wasn’t able to find a weight for the paper, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s around 90gsm. It looks and feels like it has a bit more texture than Life Noble paper.

Testing the Paper

To test this paper, in addition to using it for regular writing I did some standard tests. These tests included using a variety of nibs and inks to test for things like feathering, bleeding, sheen, etc. Let’s see how it performed.

life bank paper writing test

The Life Bank Paper performed very well in the writing tests.

Feathering, Bleeding, Ghosting

The Life Bank Paper showed absolutely no feathering in the writing samples, which is what you should expect from a quality fountain pen friendly paper. For each pen I also held the nib on the paper for up to 10 seconds, giving the paper plenty of time to pull ink from the nib and feather. None of the pens showed any sign of feathering with this test either.

life bank paper fountain pen nib performance

Closeup of how the paper performed with various nibs. Note the lack of feathering and slight sheen.

Not a single one of the three different pens bled through the paper. The ink smear started to bleed through and the ink splat definitely bled through, but these are extreme examples.

There was minimal ghosting from all three pens. While faint traces of the medium and flex writing were visible, it was not enough to be distracting. I would have no hesitation using both sides of this paper to write a letter.

life bank paper ghosting example

You can see there is minimal ghosting on the back of the paper.

Feel, Drying Time, Sheen

As I mentioned up above, this paper looks and feels like it has a bit of texture. When you write on it, you can feel it. If you like a bit of feedback when you write, you will probably love this paper. Even if you prefer smooth paper, you’ll probably still like it, as the texture isn’t enough to be very distracting.

The drying time for this paper is a little above average. If you’re using a pen that puts down a lot of ink you’ll have to be careful and watch for wet ink, but you should be able to use most medium or fine nibs without too much trouble.

Life Bank Paper does show sheen. In my writing samples, I saw sheen with the medium and flex nibs, but not with the fine nib. The splat and smear samples also showed good amounts of sheen. There isn’t as much sheen as there is on Tomoe River, but there is significantly more than on some other fountain pen friendly papers such as Rhodia.

life bank paper sheen yama budo

Iroshizuku yama-budo sheen from a splat and a smear.

Life Bank Paper Test Front

Life Bank Paper Test: Front

Life Bank Paper Test Back

Life Bank Paper Test: Back

Final Thoughts

I really enjoy writing on Life Bank Paper. It’s not perfectly smooth, so it has a bit of feedback, which I tend to enjoy in a paper. Still, it is smooth enough as to provide a very nice writing experience. It is truly a fine paper for fountain pens, as it exhibits no feathering or bleeding, and it has very little ghosting. While it does show a good amount of sheen, it is not the “sheeniest” paper around. Regardless of if you’re an avid letter writer or just want a pad of good paper for quick notes, I think you’ll be happy with a pad of Life Bank Paper. Personally, I will probably make it my go-to paper for writing letters to pen pals!

Interested in trying this paper before buying a pad? Head over to my shop and pick up a paper sample pack.

Life Bank Paper Review
  • Sheen (higher is better)
  • Shading (higher is better)
  • Bleeding (higher is better)
  • Ghosting (higher is better)
  • Feathering (higher is better)
  • Dry Time (higher is better)

Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating

Pros: Wonderful paper that really shows off your ink, has a bit of texture if you prefer feedback
Cons: Not widely available
Value Rating: Stars: 3.71, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.09
Who this paper is for: People who want a great letter-writing experience

Comments 6

    1. Post
  1. Thanks for the info that it’s thicker.

    Saw this product while browsing their website yesterday and is in doubt because Wikipedia entry said “bank paper” refers to thin paper less 50gsm.

    1. Post

      Seika, I don’t remember where I saw it, but I remember reading that the reason this one is called Bank Paper is because it was originally made for the Bank of Japan before becoming a regular product in Life’s line of paper.

    1. Post

      There are Bank envelopes! I know they come in the larger size for A4 sheets (Vanness sells them), but am not sure they come in the correct size for a folded A5 sheet. I’d imagine they are out there, it may just take some searching to find them.

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