Taroko Design A5 Notebook

  • Where to buy: Bureau Direct [here]
  • Price: £7.95 (other size options are available which are different prices. This is the A5 price)
  • Page count: 32 individual sheets
  • Paper: Tomoe River
  • Paper weight: 68gsm
  • Layout: Dot, lined & plain
  • Binding: Stapled (pages are not perforated)
  • Recommend? – For the UK market this would be fantastic as it offers a great way to try out Tomoe River paper. However, there are other options that are more economical (£/page) such as the Seven Seas Writer by Nanami. For us in the UK (and perhaps Europe too?) this might not be the best option due to shipping and customs etc.

I’m rather intrigued by the Taroko Design notebooks. I’ve owned the 124mm x 88mm passport size before and used it as an ink log, so I’m familiar with the notebook, but in a different size.

Taroko Design notebook review

There are many things that I love about the Taroko Design notebooks. The paper is 68gsm Tomoe River, which is somewhat difficult to source in the UK and is a cheap way to try the paper if you’ve never used it before. The quality is fantastic, but I shall get onto that further down. Another thing that really draws me to the notebooks are how thin the front & back pages are. Along with the 68gsm pages inside, the result is a very small and compact notebook – something thin enough that you could slip into a packed laptop bag or something of the sort with ease.

Taroko Design A5 notebook Tomoe River review pen
Is this still cool? You can use the notebooks for various 100% serious applications.

Tomoe River has a famous status within the writing community – and rightly so (there was the option for a pun there. I didn’t take it. You’re welcome)! When fountain pen ink is laid down onto Tomoe River the paper really does show off the ink in some of the most beautiful ways, and the most common way is through sheening. There are also a lot of shading opportunities, which you often get with less absorbent paper. So while the paper is great for playing with inks and the such, be wary of dry times as they do tend to be longer than other types of paper (I did a quick test between Rhodia, Clairefontaine & TR and the latter easily came out on top as making inks seem wetter). This is a pro and a con because on the one hand you get lovely wet lines put down that allow inks to really come into character on the page, though it also means you’ve got longer dry times and so if you’re jotting something down quickly then you’ll likely get ink on the opposite page when you close the notebook if you don’t give it long enough to dry.

Tomoe River Taroko notebook review fountain pen ink sheen
do u sheen bro? [Diamine Onyx Black & Sailor Hankyu Department Store LE Maroon]
Diamine Bilberry Sheen Bureau Direct Taroko design Tomoe River notebook review
Diamine Bilberry was written in a Pilot Capless [Vanishing Point] fine nib and I still witnessed a lot of sheen.
Tomoe River sheen Sailor Hankyu department store limited edition Maroon ink

On the topic of ghosting, it is noticeable, but I’m rather impressed because it actually holds up better to paper that’s thicker than 68gsm, which isn’t too shabby. I get no bleed or feathering, even with nibs that cry ink onto the paper.

Taroko Design writing sample ink sheen fountain pen tomoe river
Various writing samples with different inks and pens. The paper handles the inks phenomenally well.
Tomoe River Taroko Design notebook review
Shot of the reverse. Ghosting is obvious but there’s absolutely no bleedthrough.

While I’m a fan of the thin, somewhat delicate, front and back covers, this might not appeal to everyone. It does mean there’s a risk of tearing, bending and otherwise damaging the ‘clean’ look of the notebook, but does offer the opportunity to give it the “pocket notebook” treatment where the notebook does get a little beaten up which is something some people in the EDC community quite like the look of. But if you want to keep the notebook looking pristine then I’d be careful how you’re packing the notebook in – the thinness of the notebook is definitely both a blessing and a curse depending on how you look at it and your personal preferences.

Taroko Design Notebook review Bureau Direct Tomoe River
The black lined notebook
Taroko Design Notebook review Bureau Direct Tomoe River
Dot grid brown notebook.

There’s the option for the Taroko notebooks to come in lined, dotted & plain paper – each paper design with a different front and back cover (black, brown & dark blue respectively). The different front covers makes it easy if you want to pick up a notebook on the fly and don’t want to faff around opening each notebook to make sure that you’ve got the right paper type that you want in that moment. Of course, this assumes you’ve got at least more than one paper type. It would be great to see the option to choose your paper type and the colour of the front/back covers – though I do understand from a manufacturer’s stand point where the logistics may not be that easy to execute. Even though Leuchtturm are able to achieve this, Taroko aren’t pumping out notebooks at the same rate as Leuchtturm to give people such a wide choice of colour and paper. For the same reason, this is why I’m not surprised we’re not seeing green or neon pink colours and only these three. Though it does lend itself to a formal and conservative look that I rather admire.

In what has turned out to be my shortest review, I’ll conclude and say that this notebook has many fantastic applications. It won’t take up much space in a bag, the paper is amazing so you don’t sacrifice a good writing experience either. It is also great for personal use – I have been testing this out at a local pen meet up that I go to roughly every month because of how well the ink looks on this paper when I am trying out various inks or pens. It’ll certainly make taking notes fun (or perhaps distracting..!), though if you’re taking notes then you may want something larger as a result such as full A4 loose sheet Tomoe River paper, but then you run into a far higher price as a result. If you’re looking for a cheap way to try Tomoe River as well as an easy way to source it (speaking in terms of getting it within the UK) then you cannot go wrong with these notebooks.


  • Thin notebooks
  • Great way to test out Tomoe River paper – for a cheap price!
  • Tomoe River paper! Really highlights the characteristics of an ink


  • Dry times are long
  • Damage to front/back covers may be off putting to some (but aesthetically pleasing to others!)

Disclaimer: These notebooks were provided by Bureau Direct in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed are my own and I received no other compensation for doing this review.


2 thoughts on “Taroko Design A5 Notebook

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