Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook Review

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebooks

John Bosley Reviews 2 Comments

Not too long ago Kokuyo came out with a new line of notebooks with an interesting twist. These notebooks have three different paper types that are meant to appeal to different paper preferences. They named the lineup Perpanep, which is an anagram of “pen paper”. The idea is that each paper type has different characteristics, specifically how they feel to write on. Is this just a clever marketing ploy or are there actually noticeable differences between the paper types? In this review I’ll take a look at all three different paper types and see how they compare to each other, both in feel and performance.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook wrapper

First Impressions

The first thing that I had to figure out was how to tell the notebooks apart. Each has the same logo on the front, but no text on the notebook to differentiate between the different types of paper. Problem? Not once you learn the trick. The logo is made up of three symbols. One of the symbols is a solid color, while the other two are outlines. The solid-colored symbol represents the paper type.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook cover image
So how do you know which is which? The trick is knowing what makes each paper different. Tsurutsuru is the smoothest of the papers. Sarasara strikes a balance between smoothness and texture. Zarazara has a more textured writing experience. If you look at the three symbols, you’ll see one is flat (Tsurutsuru), one is wavy (Sarasara) and one is jagged (Zarazara). Whichever symbol is solid is the paper that’s in that notebook! While it’s not the best system around, it’s easy to decode once you know what to look for.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook cover symbols
After I figured that part out, I could take a look at the notebooks themselves. The overall design is very simple. They have a plain grey notebook cover with the symbols on the front, an exposed cheesecloth spine (similar to Midori MD notebooks) and not much else. For people who like simple, straightforward notebooks, these should be pretty appealing.

The Details

While the basic info for each notebook is similar, each paper type does have a different weight.

  • Pages: 120 (60 sheets)
  • Paper Weight: 75gsm (Sarasara), 90gsm (Zarazara), 96gsm (Tsurutsuru)
  • Binding: Glue
  • Page Style: Lined (6mm), Dot (4mm), Grid (5mm)
  • Size: A5

Ink-handling characteristics for each paper type (A table with a summary of the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)

Zarazara

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

Sarasara

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

Tsurutsuru

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

Other features

  • Softcover
  • Exposed cheesecloth spine
  • Lay-flat binding

Actual Use

While I want to briefly discuss each paper individually, let’s first take an overall look at the notebooks themselves. As I mentioned before, they are quite simple and don’t have much in the way of extras. The cover is made of grey cardstock. It has a flat texture with no gloss, making it perfect for stickers or other types of decoration. The exposed cheesecloth spine allows for extra flexibility, so these notebooks have no problem opening and laying flat. Inside the notebook you’ll immediately be greeted with the first writing page. That’s it! No page numbers, index, closures, pockets or anything else. These are just simple notebooks.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook spine
Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook lay flat
Now let’s look at the paper. Overall, each paper has a slight tint to it. I wouldn’t exactly call it ivory, but more of an off-white. The printed lines and grids are a nice light grey color that is unobtrusive. The lined paper has a vertical line running down the center of the page like you’d find on a steno pad.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook lined paper
There is a visible and tactile difference to each paper as well. The Zarazara visibly has more texture than the other two. It also feels significantly less smooth. If I had a blind test between the SaraSara and Tsurutsuru, I’m not sure if I could tell the difference, but when I write on them I can tell that the TsuruTsuru is the smoothest paper.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook paper types
All papers handled fountain pen ink very well. They have no observed feathering or bleed through. Ghosting is low enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to write on both sides of a page.

Zarazara

Zarazara easily has the most texture of these three paper types. While many people don’t want a lot of tactile feedback from their paper when they write, I personally enjoy it and find this paper to be my favorite to write on. It doesn’t show as much sheen or shading as the other two papers, but there’s something about the overall writing experience that I really enjoy. Performance in other areas is similar to the other two paper types.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook zarazara
Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook zarazara
Sarasara

Sarasara is the paper that’s smoother than Zarazara but not as smooth as Tsurutsuru. It does have a bit of noticeable texture, especially when writing with finer nibs. In my opinion, this is my least favorite of the three paper types. It’s not as textured and interesting to write on as Zarazara, but not as smooth and luxurious as the Tsurutsuru. If you don’t want super-smooth paper but still want sheen and shading, the Sarasara might be a great choice for you.

Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook sarasara
Kokuyo Perpanep Notebook sarasara
Tsurutsuru

Tsurutsuru has a writing feel that you’d probably expect from a typical Japanese paper. While it’s not the smoothest paper I’ve ever used, it is much smoother than the Zarazara or Sarasara. It does show more sheen and shading than the Zarazara and Sarasara, but it also has the longest dry times out of the three paper types. I like this paper, but in my opinion there are better papers out there for the same price that have better performance.

Kokuyo Perpanep Tsurutsuru
Kokuyo Perpanep Tsurutsuru

Conclusion

I really like what Kokuyo is doing here with their Perpanep notebooks. Having a line of notebooks with different paper types is a very interesting idea. Unfortunately, with the exception of Zarazara, the papers aren’t unique enough from other notebooks that are out there to make them a must-buy notebook. They do have some great characteristics, though. They are simple notebooks that open and lay flat. The number of pages makes them comfortable to use. Most importantly, all of the paper types are quite nice and handle fountain pen inks very well. My main issue is that I don’t see the need for three paper types, two of which don’t really stand out when compared to what is currently available in the sea of fountain-pen-friendly notebooks.

If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.

Kokuyo Perpanep
  • 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)
3.5

Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating

Pros: Simple notebooks that lay flat, multiple paper options, great with fountain pens
Cons: Not particularly unique papers with the exception of Zarazara
Value Rating: 3.14 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.23
Who this notebook is for: Anyone who wants a simple notebook with a variety of paper options.
Upgrade to this notebook from: Kokuyo Campus
Upgrade from this notebook to: Graphilo

Comments 2

  1. Pingback: Web Finds – 13 April 2022 | Travellers Notebook Times

  2. Just a quick question, John. When you note in your reviews the size of the notebooks, do you mention only the size you review or do you include all the sizes that are available? For me, the ubiquitous A5 is too small. Although I prefer larger sizes such as A4, I have found an entirely suitable alternative in the B5 size. But it seems that many papers only come in A5 (and often smaller). I have sampled A5 sizes, such as Japanese bank paper (from Papermind), but I am finding that B5 is about as small as I am willing to go.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Perry, I mention all of the sizes that I know are available, not just the size of notebook that I review. A5 is definitely the most popular, but is not always ideal for some people.

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