Celebrating Japanese Pencil Month with New Stickers for Tombow, Mitsubishi & Colleen

I’m guessing you probably didn’t even know that June is Japanese Pencil Month. If so, don’t feel too bad because I technically just made it up. But can you blame me? When you see what’s on the menu for June I think you’re going to be on board with this whole #JapanesePencilMonth thing!

Tombow Mono 100 5B sushi chopsticks

Brand new this month are stickers for three vintage (yes vintage — more on that in a moment) Japanese pencils, starting off with the Tombow Mono 100 5B.

This Mono 100 definitely delivers the goods with its dark, smooth 5B core. The gold-on-black imprint looks striking, and I really love how the white line wraps over its rounded cap.

Mitsubishi Red Blue Colored Pencils with sticker

Next up we have an old school colored pencil from Mitsubishi that does double duty by offering both Vermilion Red and Prussian Blue. Fun fact: when sharpening this pencil you’ll discover that during the manufacturing process the entire body was first painted red, then half was painted blue.

Tombow, Colleen, and Mitsubishi vintage pencils

Rounding out June’s trio of Japanese pencils is the Colleen No.710 HB. This fine writing instrument has a somewhat uncommon look (by Japanese standards) with its yellow body, metal ferrule, and pink eraser. At quick glance it might even be mistaken for a classic American-made pencil.

Colleen pencil with sticker

A total of 13 pencil-sticker combos have now been introduced this year including last month’s wildly popular Diagraph X/R special release. For those curious or collecting, the Leadfast Flamingo is the first of my pencil-sticker sets to sell out. Looking at my inventory I’d say the Black Oak will go next. Just a few more left!

What makes a pencil vintage?

JIS - Japanese Industrial Standards logo mark

So glad you asked. While the majority of pencils in my collection were produced by manufacturers that sadly went out of business decades ago, a handful a companies do still have the factory lights on. Tombow and Mitsubishi are two well-known Japanese examples. However, even though these companies are still making high quality woodcase pencils today, the models I’m featuring here are likely at least 20 years old. This is the threshold for what defines vintage in my book.

One of the characteristics to look for when trying to determine the age of a Japanese pencil is its JIS mark. Pencils manufactured in Japan post-WWII are stamped with a little circle-shaped symbol to indicate they meet Japanese Industrial Standards. To my knowledge the design of the JIS mark went unchanged for 50 years until a new symbol was introduced in 2005. The old symbol (pictured above) was used between 1946–2008 and is printed on all vintage Japanese pencils for sale here on my website.