You may think of binders as clunky yet necessary tools to store loose leaf paper, but Japanese binders are here to change your mind. These binders are innovative with special features that eliminate the frustrations associated with standard binders. Read on or watch the videos below to learn more about our top recommendations.
Why do Japanese loose leaf papers have so many holes? A binder’s rings produce more stress on the paper when there are fewer holes. Two- or three-hole punched papers often need hole reinforcement stickers. By designing sheets with many more holes, the stress is spread out evenly over the entire edge of the paper. This leads to fewer tears. In addition, if a tear does occur, the paper won’t have to rely on just one or two holes to keep it inside the binder.
Those who use A5 binders and want to use their own paper can purchase a hole punch. It punches the correct number of holes into sheets of A5 paper so that they can be added to a compatible 20-ring binder.
Lihit Lab notebooks and memo pads are the exception to the rule. They cannot use paper that would otherwise fit in a Kokuyo or Maruman binder and can only use sheets that are made by Lihit Lab. However, a hole punch is available so that you can make your own refills.
Maruman’s tab opening system is found in nearly all of their binders, including the Clarte. It is a colorful alternative to the 5 Chart with cutouts in the cover that reveal the coordinating index tabs underneath.
The Campus Slide comes in A5, B5, and A4 sizes. Some of the binders come with index tabs, clear pockets, and sheets of Sarasara paper to get you started.
The Kokuyo Campus 2x2 Binder Notebook is a slim alternative to the Tefrenu. It uses just four rings to hold papers in place, and it can even be folded in half. However, it can’t hold as many sheets as the Tefrenu, and index tabs will stick out past the cover.
The Standard Smart Ring comes in B5 and A5 sizes, both of which hold about twenty five sheets. It is also available in a larger version that can hold sixty sheets. Both options come with ten sheets of Sarasara paper. Unlike its more colorful siblings, the Smart Ring Biz comes with an understated opaque cover that is slightly wider. It hides sensitive notes and accommodates page flags that stick out from the edge of the paper. It has five sheets of graph paper inside.
An alternative to the Smart Ring is the Lihit Lab Aqua Drops. The ring binding can be opened by simply pulling on the page corners on the opposite sides of the rings, though you do have to pinch the rings closed. The Aqua Drops are only compatible with Lihit Lab papers, but you can get a hole punch to turn loose papers into sheets that will fit.
If you prefer a binder with a more tactile feel, the Maruman Make One’s Day is exactly the same as the Into-One but with a pleasantly textured cardstock cover.
These binders are made for unpunched sheets, or only certain kinds of paper can fit in them.
Which of these unique Japanese binders is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. If you would prefer notebooks, we explore our favorite ones in this guide on The Best Notebooks for Every Use.