Review – ZenPop Stationery Subscription Box

Today we’ve got something a little different, but very cool. ZenPop.jp offers a selection of themed subscription boxes featuring all sorts of neat products from Japan, curated and delivered directly to your door! There are boxes that focus on sweets, one with a focus on ramen, a mix of sweets + ramen, and then the one I have here for you today, filled with an adorable assortment of Japanese stationery. I was offered the choice, but since I have a fair number of food allergies I felt like this was the safer bet. I’d hate to receive a box of things I couldn’t review properly!

The box was mailed on Nov 4th and arrived on Nov 29th, but Canada Post was on rotating strikes for most of the month so I’m fairly certain the long delivery period was due to that, not due to anything on ZenPop’s end. The first thing I noticed was the mailer box itself. They could just as easily send these in plain mailers, but seeing this custom packaging with the adorable mascot in the mail added to the whole experience. It’s a really nice touch!

Upon opening the box, you’re greeted with a sweet little thank-you note and a paper detailing the contents of the package. This insert was very useful, since the packaging on the items is nearly all in Japanese. Removing the insert and unfolding the tissue paper feels like unwrapping a present, and was very exciting. Since this is the last box of the year, the overriding theme is winter/new year, which seemed like a wonderful introduction to the service.

  • First up is a sweet little 2019 calendar. The cards are roughly the size of a photo or large index card, so this will easily fit on any desk. The designs are super cute.
  • Next is a packet of incredibly charming dog stickers. This past year was the year of the dog, so this is a nice little farewell to 2018. The stickers are really nicely made of heavily textured paper with gold accents. I know I’ll be using these in next year’s planner.
  • The third item is a nice little paper and envelope set. I’m really quite terrible at keeping up with physical correspondence but maybe with such cute stationery I’ll be more motivated!
  • This fourth item is really awesome – it’s a portable staple-less stapler. Is it still called a stapler? Who knows! But it’s really nifty. It cuts and folds the paper into a secure little flap. It’s not ideal for large reams of paper, but for someone who is constantly losing receipts and medical papers in the bottom of her purse, this is going to be really helpful.
  • This next picture actually showcases three items. First up – the notepad, which is a great little portable size and has sweet little winter scenes on it. My only issue is that it’s clearly intended for a Japanese audience and the rules on it are vertical. But for scribbling a quick note or two, it’s still totally useful. The red pen is a really fun little glitter jelly Sakura pen – I tried my best to capture how shimmery the writing is, but I’m not sure it picked up well on camera. The Beetle Highlighter by Kokuyo is incredible! The tip is very strange-looking, definitely reminiscent of a staghorn or rhino beetle, but it makes it very practical. Depending on how you hold the marker you can either get a standard wide line, a thin underline, or even a double-line. These would be incredibly helpful for a student or someone who needs to take a lot of notes.
  • Next is another adorable doggie item, this time they’re little self-adhesive flags. Great for marking up textbooks, planners, or just your current relaxing read. I can’t wait to see these cute faces sticking out of my stuff.
  • The ninth item is clearly intended for the holidays, and may not be useful in its intended purpose to people outside of Japan. These are decorative envelopes intended for gifts of money. However, they’re a good little size and very sweet-looking, so you could absolutely use them for a love note or a gift card.
  • Last but not least is a roll of washi tape, again with pretty winter landscapes on it. I love washi tape and use it to decorate so much stuff, this will definitely get great usage.

Overall, I’m really quite impressed by this box. For $29.50 you get a fantastic assortment of items that are both adorable and very practical. If you’re like me and you love getting little surprises in the mail, or you’re looking for a unique gift for someone who loves all things cute and Japanese, I highly recommend one of ZenPop’s offerings. Click here to check out ZenPop for yourself!

Bonus: ZenPop is 100% Tribble Approved!

 If you have a topically appropriate craft, product, or service you would like me to review, please contact me.I received this item from the retailer or manufacturer for honest review purposes. 

Art Gallery – Rilakkuma & Friends


There are a number of Rilakkuma cafés spreading across parts of Asia, and on their coasters is this absolutely charming little drawing of Rilakkuma, Korilakkuma, and Kiiroitori in furisode-style kimono. The first time I saw it, I knew I wanted to make a little drawing based off of it, because it was just too cute. I ended up making this sort of quilted-style illustration and I think it turned out really well.

Now, I realise Rilakkuma is supposedly a boy bear, and putting him in a pink furisode seems a bit odd, but I figured since the original illustration had all three of them in furisode with female-type dressing and accessories, I’d just run with it. I’m glad I did, because this is so adorable it’s kind of making my teeth hurt. I’m quite happy with the end result.

If you’d like a print of this goofy little drawing, you can always click here to buy one from my Society6 shop. You get art, I get a few dollars to help defray the costs of this blog. Everyone wins!

Lastly, a quick note; for the next week or two, I will likely not be changing the mannequin. I’m in the throes of a nasty sciatica flare-up and it’s making it difficult to stand, let alone do something like wrestle with kimono. I’ve got lots of other fun things to share with you all in the meantime, and I appreciate your patience and understanding in advance.

Review – Modern Sakura Kanzashi

Modern Sakura is a fairly new US-based kanzashi brand. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while now, and when I saw they had created a Kickstarter crowdfunding camp aign to get established, I knew I wanted to back them. The campaign was understandably successful and I chose the purple and blue Summer Breeze kanzashi.

I received mine yesterday, and I’m very impressed. The first thing I noticed was the custom mailer boxes. It’s a really nice little touch that makes receiving the product feel very special. Inside the customised box was two adorable printed glassine bags, another sweet little detail that while entirely unnecessary adds a level of thoughtfulness to the finished product.

There were two pieces in the box, which I was not expecting! The tiny blue flower clip is so adorable and subtle, and will be great for everyday wear. As far as I know, these are exclusive to folks who backed the Kickstarter.

The pièce de résistance though was the Summer Breeze kanzashi. This piece has a unique combination of ume blossoms, a charming little fan, and flower and bell dangles. Admittedly, this style is quite juvenile for someone of my age, especially with the little bells, but when has that ever stopped me before? The piece is very well-finished, even the back is smoothly covered with fabric to ensure quality and durability. There is a small metal alligator clip on the back, which was an excellent choice in my opinion, as it tends to grip even fine hair like mine. It also makes the piece suitable for a wide variety of hairstyles – kanzashi mounted on traditional wire pins are really only going to work with fairly voluminous updos but this style of clip means the piece can be worn on long, loose hair as well.

If this is a sign of things to come, I expect to see and hear a lot about Modern Sakura in the future. If you’re interested in some affordable, modern kanzashi that will work as well with kimono as they will with western-style clothing, check them out!

You can find Modern Sakura on their website, as well as their Facebook page and Instagram.

 I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)