Tsubame Notebook Review: Ideal Notebook For Studying

Notebooks are indispensable for studying. A good notebook, though a bit expensive, will motivate you more than a cheap one you can get anywhere. This article will introduce the Tsubame notebook, famous for its good quality paper and easy writing.

I have thoroughly reviewed the Tsubame notebook, including basic information, design, comfortability, and a writing test.

Basic Features

SizeA5 / Semi-B5 / A4
Number of Pages30 / 40 / 50 / 60 / 80 / 100 sheets
(60 / 80 / 100 / 120 / 160 / 200 pages)
Line Type6 / 7 / 8mm ruled
Binding TypeSewn
Paper ColorWhite

Tsubame notebook is a Japanese notebook by Tsubame Note for many years, and as the name “Tsubame University Notebook” suggests, they are especially popular as study notebooks.

Tsubame notebook has a wide variety of sizes and page numbers. And there are many different combinations of notebooks, so you can easily choose the best one for you.

All notebooks are ruled horizontally and come in three sizes: 6, 7, and 8 mm. Usually, most notebook brands offer only one type of the ruled line. Still, Tsubame Notebook has a product lineup that considers the different sizes of the handwriting of different people.

headline part of tsubame notebook
There are header and footer sections on every page


Although there are a wide variety of sizes and number of pages, the covers’ design and color have been consistent since the company’s founding in 1947. And the distinctive design that makes the Tsubame notebook instantly recognizable is appealing.

back cover of tsubame notebook with a ballpoint pen

And the story behind the birth of this cover design was a curious one.

One day, a man wandered into the Tsubame office. He seemed to be a fortune teller and said that he was attracted to the building as he was also a designer. Then, for some reason, the company’s founder asked the guy to propose a cover design for a notebook. And the founder really liked it, and it became the cover of the current Tsubame notebook.

Incidentally, the W and H printed in gold on the cover (W for Semi-B5 notebooks and H for A5 notebooks) are the initials of the company’s founder, “Hatsuzaburo Watanabe”. Putting his initials on a product shows a great deal of confidence.

tsubame notebook front cover

In the case of the notebook in this picture, it is W30S, which means Semi-B5 size with 30 pages, and S means horizontal lines.

Paper Quality

writing "Tsubame Note" with blue ink on tsubame notebook

Tsubame notebooks are made of Tsubame’s original high-grade neutral foolscap paper.

Fool’s paper is a type of writing paper initially created in Europe in the 15th century. The ink did not dry quickly enough when writing with a fountain pen and often stained or smudged the hand.

At that time, they had to hold down the writing area with a piece of water-absorbent paper each time to get around the problem.

In addition, the paper used in those days was acidic, which had the drawback of becoming raggedy when exposed to the sun.

To solve the weaknesses of foolscap paper, Tsubame Note conducted independent research with paper companies and came up with a “neutral fools paper” that can last for more than 10,000 years.

watermark on foolscap paper

The Tsubame notebook’s foolscap has a watermark, which symbolizes high-quality paper. We can’t see it when we usually use the notebook. But we can see it clearly when you look through it in the light.

By the way, Tsubame notebook’s paper is only made in spring and autumn.

According to Tsubame Note, “Water is essential for making good paper, and the water temperature and bacteria in the water affect the papermaking process”. They are such a professional pursuing the highest quality!

Water-based lines

sewn binding and water-based lines on tsubame notebook

There is one more critical element that supports the ease of writing. That is the ruled line. In general, ruled lines are oil-based and do not entirely soak into the paper. So, when you look at a cross-section of the paper, the lines are actually convex.

In other words, when the tip of the writing instrument crosses the line, a slight snag is created. To avoid this issue, Tsubame notebook’s paper is ruled with a special technique using water-based ink.

No fluorescent paint

The paper is free of fluorescent dyes, which reduces eye fatigue. The design is ideal for people who work or study at their desks for long hours.

Writing Test

I did a writing test using several different pens.

There is no bleed-through at all. There is slight ghosting, but it doesn’t interrupt the writing experience much. The surface is relatively smooth and comfortable to write on.

writing test with various types of pens on tsubame notebook
writing test from the backside of the page on tsubame notebook

Things I Noticed

Inconsistency of the dot positions

close look at dots on tsubame notebook

If you look closely, you can see that the position of the dots on each page is slightly different.

This is because there is a disadvantage to the method of drawing ruled lines using water-based ink introduced above. Unlike general notebook printing, the Tsubame notebook’s printing is not done on a plate, so the position of the scale shifts a little from page to page.

Tsubame Note also had a problem with this and once abolished the dot itself. But many users asked them to make it back even if the position was slightly off. So they brought it back again.

Not opening perfectly flat

tsubame notebook doesn't open perfectly horizontally

Due to the binding, the pages will float a little when opened. This is not a problem for notebooks with thin pages, but some people may find it a bit difficult to write in thick notebooks with many pages.

Overall Score

radar chart of the overall score

Tsubame notebooks are made with the user in mind and are filled with care and attention to detail.

The writing comfort is perfect, and any type of ink goes well with the paper. The ruled lines are relatively broad, so this notebook is especially recommended for those who want to write large letters.

Incidentally, the company name “Tsubame Note” was named after the salesperson’s nickname “Mr. Tsubame” who was very popular at the sales office. Since the users also called their products “Mr. Tsubame’s notebook”, the founder adopted it as the company name.

Why don’t you try the Tsubame notebook, which is thoroughly designed with the user in mind.


One thought on “Tsubame Notebook Review: Ideal Notebook For Studying

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