painless shopping

41 School Supplies From Around the World (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

More fun than going to Rite Aid and getting a Five-Star notebook. Photo: courtesy of the retailers

In the same way that going abroad and getting lost in the candy aisle is so much fun, getting lost in a foreign stationery store can be equally exciting. But now, thanks to the internet, those who can’t jaunt to Tokyo to pick up some Mitsubishi bank paper before that first school bell rings can find loads of international school supplies (or office accoutrements) on Amazon, including pens, notebooks, staplers, and turtle paper clips. Some of these items do carry additional shipping fees since they’re sent out overseas, but that’s the price you pay for all-natural German paper glue that comes in a refillable glass bottle. Below are 41 of our favorites organized by country of origin (and for hard-core foreign-stationery geeks, we recommend perusing the amazing website Rad and Hungry).

From Japan

These Midori paper clips also come in the shape of a penguin, crocodile, pig, dog, squirrel, cat, or rabbit.

Also from Midori: a collapsible brass pen, which writer Mark Byrne keeps in the coin pocket of his jeans.

A beautiful set of scissors from Japanese stationery company Craft Design Technology.

Founded in 1913, Tombow is well known for making high-quality pens, markers, and art supplies. The company produces a wide range of erasers, but this one is particularly popular because it’s designed to be mess-free: The eraser bits clump together and rub off in thin rolls. Plus, the black color will still look nice and clean even after frequent use.

Tombow also makes this dual-tip glue pen; it has a broad end for covering large areas, and a more precise tip on the other side for detail work.

We had to include one more from Midori. An aluminum ruler that folds into itself, making it easy to store in almost any pen case. And with the small dial on top, the ruler can measure angles and double as a protractor.

This retro metal book stand can prop up a textbook and hold it open for easy note-taking. (It would also be a great cookbook holder.)

Life Bank Paper Pad

There’s an interesting story behind this pad of paper: “Bank paper,” which was made exclusively for Japan’s Mitsubishi Bank, was taken off the market but reintroduced in 2007 by the stationery company Life. The super-high-quality paper is manufactured in the same Mitsubishi paper mills as the original.

“L. Writing Paper” is Life’s signature line, and this pad is a bit less expensive than the bank-paper pad above.

Rollbahn Pocket Memo

Writer Hannah Morrill on her favorite notebook: “The paper stock is thick enough that felt-tip pens don’t bleed through, but not so luxe to feel precious, like you’re jotting your Time Warner account number onto the Magna Carta.” (Despite the German-sounding name — and the German language on the cover — Rohllbahn notebooks are made in Japan by Delfonics Stationery.)

A handsome pencil case from the aforementioned Delfonics Stationery.

A rainbow of pens (which are ideal for coloring) from Nagoya, Japan–based Artline.

This superfine pen is from Ohto, responsible for manufacturing the first ballpoint pens in Japan in 1949. It was also the runner-up in our list of the 100 best pens.

MT Washi Masking Tape

MT is the premier maker of Japanese washi paper tape (a strong but thin masking tape), which can be used in so many crafty ways.

This Japanese chalk has something of a cult following among mathematicians, many of whom bought it in bulk when they heard the company might go out of business. Fortunately, Hagoromo is still making its famous chalk, and it’s easy to buy online.

Managing editor Maxine Builder wrote about being a “stapleless stapler” convert thanks to this device from Kokuyo Harinacs. “It’s not magic, but some origami-inspired paper-folding,” she writes. “It works by punching a hole, then tucking the loose paper flaps through a thin slit,” creating a staple-less bind that Builder says is “surprisingly” secure.

From Germany

German company Gutenberg makes what has to be the most elegant “glue stick” we have ever seen. It’s mostly recommend for “light duty” use with paper materials, and it’s also especially good for those with chemical sensitivities, since it’s all-natural and made with only water, rubber-tree gum, and potato starch. And to top it off, the glass bottle is refillable.


The most Instagrammable pen around.

Stabilo has been around since 1855, but it is perhaps best known for its iconically chunky Stabilo Boss highlighters, first introduced in 1971.

This brass pencil sharpener, from Dux, a German company founded in 1908, comes with a lovely little leather case. It has three settings (sharp, medium, and round) so you can sharpen your pencil to whichever level your heart desires.

Germany’s Leuchtturm1917 is known worldwide for its planners, and we featured this 18-month weekly planner on our expert-recommended list.

From Austria

Every kid in Austria will recognize Jolly’s colored pencils, but they’re not as well known Stateside. Jolly was founded in 1965 and is famous for its “Supersticks” colored pencils, designed to be extra durable and easy for kids to grip. This set of 24 assorted colors comes in a metal tin.

From Italy

A handheld stapler that’s been produced for many years in the town of Cologno Monzese and can handle up to 16 pieces of paper at a time.

A set of approximately 150 drawing pins in assorted colors from Leone Dell’Era, an Italian stationery company founded in 1850.

Also from Leone Dell’Era: a box of Italian-made galvanized-steel paper clips.

From Spain

A heavy-duty desk stapler from Spanish manufacturer El Casco, established in 1920.

From Belgium

Crown Mill has its roots in 1478 Belgium, when the emperor allowed the monks of La Hulpe Monastery to build a paper mill on the Argentine river. The company went on to supply stationery for the Belgian royal family and still has a devoted following.

From the Czech Republic

Koh-I-Noor Pencil

A stately pencil from Koh-I-Noor, an art-supply company founded in 1790 and based in Ceske Budejovice.

From Switzerland

Caran d’Ache now makes high-end pens and art supplies, but its roots are in classic wooden pencils. Founded in Geneva in 1915, the company was then renamed Caran d’Ache in 1924. This all-metal Swiss-made pencil sharpener might seem extravagant, but it’s built to last.

From France

First manufactured in the 1920s and still made at the same Paris workshop built by Gustave Eiffel, this desk pad will give your midday scribbles and phone-call notes a more handsome look.

Since its founding in 1934, Rhodia notebooks have built up quite the following around the world and in their home country of France. They’re particularly popular with fountain-pen users because ink does not “bleed through” the heavy paper. This notebook is about the same size as those thin Muji notebooks everyone loves, but with heavy-duty paper (and a higher price).

From South Korea

A bright, portable, plastic accordion-style document folder with eight expandable pockets.

South Korean company Motex, founded in 1975, makes this uniquely designed tape dispenser. It’s also available in a larger size, but we prefer the simplicity of the smaller “mini” version. Load in a roll of one-inch-wide Scotch tape — the product description specifies the brand and size — and when you turn the knob on the side, the dispenser spits out pre-portioned pieces of tape.

Motex also makes this nifty label maker. And it’s fully manual, so there’s no need to worry about batteries.

An undated weekly planner from Korean stationery brand PAPERIAN. It has pages for 60 weeks with a “to do” list on the side, and it’s shaped to take up minimal desk space, either below a keyboard or propped up on the included cardboard stand.

Each one of these beautiful pens from Livework has a highlighter point on one side and a fine-tip point on the other.

A straightforward, minimalist monthly planner from Jstory.

Quite possibly the cutest sticky bookmark tabs we’ve ever seen — you get a selection of sheets featuring nine characters (penguins, bees, chickens, cats, etc.) with each order.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, bed sheets, coffee makers, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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41 International School Supplies That You Can Buy on Amazon