We gained a deeper insight into both TWSBi and Pilot on our recent trip to Taipei and Tokyo. Taipei: What a fascinating city. We met with Rebecca of TWSBI at the TWSBI offices in Taipei City. In this meeting we determined that: TWSBI was established in 2009 as a means of diversification within the parent company, which specialises in making parts for other manufactures of writing instruments The most popular model is the Diamond 580. The TWSBO ECO range will be made available in a range of exciting colours in the not too distant future. TWSBI is ecologically friendly in that the box for the TWSBI ECO can be reused as a pencil case. Quality control is paramount illustrated by the fact that all pens are individually tested before leaving the factory. TWSBI uses Parker Quink blue ink to test all their pens and you might even discover traces of this ink when you first try your TWSBI pen on some paper before inking it up. TWSBI recommends that you use mild fountain pen inks without supplements such as glitter or waterproof components as these can cause the nib to become clogged. Skribr’s suggestion is that if you do elect to use such inks, use your pen regularly and always rinse out your pen and nib and clean with cool water when not in use and store clean without ink. A visit to Taipei would not be the same without a visit to the specialist TY Lee fountain pen store with an extensive range of pens and inks. Tokyo: What a vast exciting city. We met with Dysuke who works in international sales at Pilot headquarters in Tokyo where he introduced us to senior personnel. From there we were treated to a tour of stores where Pilot is represented. The Maruzen store is a large bookstore with a vast range of writing instruments and Pilot is widely represented. Featured in this store is the premium Namiki range of Fountain Pens by Pilot. Maki-e finishes are hand painted images significant to Japanese culture and feature lacquer and metallic powders added to create a wide range of wonderful images. We also viewed the Heritage and Custom range of fountain pens some of which we hope to bring to you soon. We learned that Pilot is Japan’s largest manufacturer of writing instruments. All components are manufactured by Pilot in Japan and within a number of factories around the world producing various products, for example the Begreen range’s barrels and caps are manufactured from recycled materials. We also visted the Itoya store which is a spectacular stationery store over 11 levels, a dream come true for any stationery enthusiast. Needless to say Pilot has a large presence. Next we were in for a treat at the Loft store in the Ginza district. This store stocks a vast range of consumer goods. Pilot features an extensive range of its Iroshizuku inks with every ink colour represented in separate test pens for customers to test and select colours. The Pilot range of erasable Frixion products is extremely popular in Japan. The Frixion range has erasable inks responsive to temperature change by friction, which causes the ink to be erased. The inks will reappear if subjected to temperatures below 12 degrees celcius or above 60 degrees celcius. The Frixion range comprises gel pens all the way through to highlighters, markers and a new addition is coloured pencils using this technology. The erasers in the Frixion range are made of silicon so they do not wear out or degrade and are very durable. All in all, this entire trip was an eye opener in that we got to meet with two of our suppliers and experience the stationery scene in Taipei and the extraordinary range of stationery Tokyo.