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bujo, journalling

A Bujo Starter Guide – Must-have Items for Bullet Journaling in Japan

By Guidable Authors May 30, 2022

This post is also available in: Thai

Bullet journalling (also known as bujo) is a form of time management and self-improvement tracker that has taken over social media platforms over the past few years. You must have seen extremely beautiful spreads all over Youtube, Pinterest, or Instagram, ranging from daily to-do lists to budget planners. The hype around this trend originated from the fact that bullet journalling makes staying organized exciting and fun! Thanks to our smartphones nowadays, it’s easy to quickly note down your to-do list or set some reminders on the go, but isn’t it exciting to have a pretty little notebook to yourself to keep all your ideas and schedule? The process of decorating your journal and writing down your thoughts can also act as a therapy to clear your mind and help you get a brief moment of slow-living.

However, it can be quite confusing what you need to have to get started on this journey. Look no further, this is an article for you! Read on to find out our top picks for the absolute best Japanese stationery items to get you ready for making beautiful page spreads!

How to Choose the Right Bujo, a.k.a the Notebook

Paper quality:

This is the first thing that you need to keep in mind. Since you’ll probably use more than one medium in your bullet journal, it’s best to choose the paper that is thick enough so that the ink wouldn’t bleed through but also smooth enough for a good writing experience. Think about what kind of medium you would use in your bullet journal. If you are into watercolor, opt for the paper with some texture so that it can hold the pigment better. If you are more of a fineliners or markers fan, you can choose the kind of paper with a smoother surface.

Lined, grid, dot, or plain:

Depending on your intended purpose, you might choose one of the three types of paper or you would want to build your own bullet journal with customizable pages so that you can have a combination of all three. Blank paper is great for mindmap or doodling while the other types are great for when you need to write in a straight line. A little tip here is dot paper will give you the most flexibility since the dots can be small enough to not interfere with your drawings but also visible enough to help you create a graph or write comfortably.

notebook, journal

Credits: Noémi Macavei-Katócz (Unsplash)


Choosing your writing utensils is just as important as choosing the paper. In fact, for minimalists, if you want to start bullet journaling, you only need these two things: a notebook, and a pen. Depending on your preference, you can opt for different types of pens such as gel ink, ballpoint, or fountain pens. Our top pick here is Zebra Sarasa Clip Gel Pen since they glide smoothly on paper, are available in a variety of colors (including pastel) and nib size, and are also very affordable. You can get one for less than 100 yen, and get the refill at even a cheaper price. Check out our article here for the best places to purchase stationery in Japan.

pens for bujo

Credits: Dan-Cristian Pădureț (Unsplash)


You are all set with the basics; it’s time to make your bullet journal more colorful. There are so many ways to achieve that! Watercolors, markers, fine liners, colored pencils, you name it. However, highlighters remain top of our list because they are multipurpose. You can use them for, obviously, highlighting your key ideas, as well as decorating. 

highlighters for bujo

Credits: Kasturi Roy (Unsplash) 

You should definitely check out the Zebra Mildliner highlighters. They are double-ended featuring a bullet and chisel tip so they will be perfect for any purpose, be it writing calligraphy or drawing straight lines. And if you are under the impression that the color choice for highlighters is too limited with a few neon shades, you will have to think again! Zebra Mildliner highlighters come in 25 different colors, including pastel shades as well as some more earthy tones like dark grey, brown, and apricot. Recently, they also launched a double-sided version with a brush and fine tip – making it even easier for you to be creative in your decorating or highlighting!

zebra mild highlighter

Credits: Editor

Washi Tape

If you join the bujo community, you must have seen how everyone raves about washi tape. Well, there are indeed some very good reasons for that. The word washi is made up of two words: Wa (和) meaning Japanese and Shi (紙) meaning paper, so washi tape literally means that the tape is made from Japanese special traditional paper. Washi tape is so popular because they come in many different sizes, styles, and prints. They provide a quick and easy way to decorate your journal and change up the color theme. For example, to do an autumn spread, you can simply pick out a combination of autumn-inspired colored washi tapes (such as orange, auburn, gold, pumpkin), add a few stickers or doodles, and you are done! Furthermore, the fact that you can tear the tape by hand (no scissors needed) makes washi tape a compact must-have item to pack in your pen case. But be careful when you start collecting washi tape – it can be a serious addiction. You will end up with a huge collection way before you realize it!

Most of the time, there is a coating on the washi tapes making them water-resistant (or semi-water resistant), so I wouldn’t say they are the best for writing on. However, if you are keen to scribble down on your cute washi tape, you can do so with an oil-based ink pen (such as permanent markers). Alternatively, you can also consider using masking tape since they are made with a writable paper backing (check out the difference between washi tape and masking tape here), or use a piece of sticky note, which we’ll mention right below.

washi tape, bullet journal

Credits: Canva

Sticky Notes

Do you want to write down some plans for a future event but are unsure if it will happen? Do you want to take some quick notes on the go but don’t want to ruin your beautiful bullet journal? Or simply, do you want to add a bit more color to your page? Those are the signs that you need some stacks of sticky notes in your bullet journal supplies.
Japan is a paradise for kawaii products. You can find hundreds of thousands of cute items here, and sticky notes are no exception. From notes that resemble freshly sliced fruits to anime characters to the glorious Mount Fuji and even corgi butt (yes, it’s a thing!), Japan exceeds your expectation when it comes to cute and creative items. Personally, I also love using sticky notes to cover up any mistake. If you accidentally smudge the ink on your page or misspell a word but don’t want to use white-out to erase it, you can always choose a cute design from your sticky note collection and write on it instead. Not only does it provide the perfect coverage for your mistake but also adds an extra boost of color to your page, so it’s definitely a win-win!

sticky notes, bujo

Credits: Canva

A Little Note Before You Start Your Bujo Journey…

Although it’s tempting to stock up on as much stationery as you can before starting your first bullet journal, I would suggest you stick to the basics first. As I mentioned earlier, you only need a good notebook and a pen to get started. If you want to have a more comprehensive starter pack, this article will be a good guide. You can always purchase more supplies as you go (and trust me, you will do) so don’t let the cute stationery lure you into getting too many items that you will never use when you first start! 

Kaitlyn Ngoc

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Feature photo credits: Photo by Cathryn Lavery (Unsplash)