Japan Blue Project – US Exclusive Shiranami Leather

Special Release – PLOTTER’s new Shiranami Leather and Japan Blue Project will be debuting at San Francisco Pen Show 2023. The official online release on plotterusa.com will be on September 6th, 2023 at 9:00 AM PT.

The ancient technique of “Aizome”, or “Japanese Indigo dyeing” was first introduced to the country in the Asuka period (710-794). It grew in popularity until its beauty became recognized throughout the country in the Edo period. “Ai-iro” (translated to “blue color”), the basis for all other blues of Japan, which has also become the country’s iconic color, continues to hold a special meaning in the hearts of the Japanese people.

Irish-Greek-Japanese writer, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (also known as Koizumi Yakumo) was struck by the blue of the indigo dye when he first set foot in Japan. In one of his masterpieces “The Face of Japan”, he wrote: “As far as the eye can see, banners fly and dark blue curtains sway.” Robert Atkinson, a famous British chemist who taught in Japan during the Meiji era (1868-1912), studied the color of indigo dye, and dubbed it “Japan Blue”.

“Ai” is the Japanese word for the indigo element extracted from the leaves of Japanese indigo plants and was used primarily by aristocrats and samurais. Although synthetic dyes are used today to reproduce the iconic indigo blue, this blue color lives on in the hearts of the Japanese people.

True to our Japanese heritage, PLOTTER proudly introduces this quintessential and representative color of Japan to the United States, and we call it the Japan Blue Project. Let us introduce this US Exclusive series inspired by the Japan Blue Project.  

Shiranami – White-crested Waves

Shiranami leather is a new leather type developed by PLOTTER in conjunction with a historic tannery in Himeji, an area known for its expertise in leather. Not only is it dyed with natural indigo but is also inspired by “Thirty-S ix Views of Mount Fuji” by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. The signature piece “The Great Waves off Kanagawa” depicts the turbulent, white-crested waves which dominates the scene, whilst Mt. Fuji poses quietly in the background. In Japanese, these crashing waves are called “shiranami.”

The process of tanning leather involves a large wooden drum that rotates constantly to tan and dye leather consistently. Through a smaller clear drum that tanneries use to test and simulate recipes, we can see the watery blue formula splash and foam as the leather spins inside. This mirrored imagery of “shiranami”, sprang to our minds.

With this concept in mind, PLOTTER worked with a long-established tannery in Himeji that could make this possible. The tannery’s 100-year-long history and technology enabled them to apply “Aizome” to leather, a dyeing process using natural indigo. Starting with a special tannin-tanned pure white leather designed exclusively for Indigo dye, each piece of leather is then dyed with natural indigo and vegetable oil. In the last step, the leather is infused with a generous amount of white wax from the leather core to the surface.

As a result, a leather expression unique to PLOTTER – indigo-dyed leather with white wax bloom was created. The white waxy surface represents the foamy waves, which gains luster with use. When you cut through a piece of indigo-dyed leather, you’ll also glimpse its white core – this is a special characteristic that allows the leather to showcase the indigo blue on the canvas of the leather’s white base.

Shiranami Leather initially holds a pale blue color. However, just like the waves, the white foamy color also recedes with use, and a hidden indigo-dyed deep blue surfaces over time. This is a PLOTTER exclusive leather that truly expresses the dramatic waves and blue waters of Japan as depicted by Hokusai.

Shiranami 6-Ring Leather Binders

PLOTTER Ring Leather Binders are designed with a minimalistic form – a single piece of leather, PLOTTER original backplate, and 11mm ring hardware. It is a light and portable ring leather binder that evokes creativity for users. Using the new exclusive leather developed by PLOTTER, we are introducing the Shiranami 6-Ring Leather Binders in three sizes: A5, Bible, and Mini Size. The three size variations represent the core functionality of ring-leather binders, you can choose whichever size fits your lifestyle.

The original backplate is made of brass plated in a matte silver color, which pairs elegantly with the blue color of the leather.

The edge of Shiranami leather is untreated so you can see the gradation of which the indigo dye penetrates the pale material of undyed leather. This is a unique expression that we preserve as a homage to the process of Aizome. The white core base further emphasizes the Indigo blue.

Refill Memo Pad Blue

In this release, we have developed a new Refill Memo Pad Blue to complement the Shiranami Leather Binder so users can experience the world of Japan Blue Project, in A5, Bible, and Mini Size.

PLOTTER Refill Memo Pads are designed to be used as a convenient tool for notetaking on their own and can be removed easily to tuck into the leather binder for portability. Unlike other loose-sheet ring binder refills, the technique of “ten-nori” is applied to PLOTTER Refill Memo Pads to glue-bind one side of the notebook so it holds its form.

The Refill Memo Pad Blue version is made with high-quality blue color paper. The layout is based on PLOTTER’s iconic 2mm Grid, with easy-to-read solid gray guidelines in a 4-division quadrant layout that lends itself to a variety of creative uses.

The “Quadrant Graph” format can be used to map out ideas in separate sections, take notes, mark to-dos, or use it as a weekly planner across two pages (8 boxes for the 7 days of a week).

In this initial release, we celebrate the occasion with an inaugural edition of 80 pages in each Refill Memo Pad for all three sizes while supplies last. The regular edition will contain 50 pages.

Bonus Gift – Holographic Postcard

A modern take on Houkusai’s “The Great Waves off Kanagawa”, the postcard is made with letterpress printing and a special holographic effect. In the initial launch of US Exclusive Shiranami Leather, each leather binder will come with a special bonus holographic postcard while supplies last.

The Japan Blue Project is one dear to our hearts as PLOTTER continues to grow globally, especially in the United States. The new original Shiranami Leather and Refill Memo Pad Blue is one of the many waves of creativity we seek to share from PLOTTER, inspiring you to write, design, and create.

Draw Today, Shape Tomorrow