April is the start of the academic year in Japan, and for kids, parents and stationery manufacturers that means one thing: it’s back to school shopping season. And across Japan, as elementary school students carefully write their names in their notebooks for the new year, there’s a good chance that notebook will be Showa Noto brand. The company’s gakushucho (study notebooks) are a hugely popular series of school notebooks, used by school students all over the country. Showa Noto also makes character-branded goods, and we’re desperate to get our hands on one of these new Star Wars school notebooks!

First, let’s take a look at the classic Showa Noto design for comparison. Japonica notebooks usually feature a green cover with a brightly-coloured photograph. Different notebooks are available for each school subject, with the inside pages varying: the kanji practice and arithmetic notebooks, for example, have square spaces, albeit of different sizes, whereas the pages of a jiyu noto (“free notebook”, for general study) are left blank.

▼ The front cover and inside of two Japonica notebooks, sadly lacking in Star Wars content.
Left: Japanese language, Right: Arithmetic.


For the Star Wars notebooks, however, the makers have switched the dark green cover for a star-flecked black background that has retro echoes of an American composition book. There are four character covers, each with their own subject listed on the book’s cover, too, although they’re not subjects you’d usually study in school!

▼ Storm Troopers. Specialist subject: roudou (manual labour or work).


▼ Darth Vadar. Subject: shirei, which roughly translates as  “commander”, “telling people what to do”, or “being a badass”.


▼ Yoda’s subject is satori, or “enlightenment”, of course! R2-D2 and C-3PO are on hand to help you study honyaku (“translation” – very apt!).


The notebooks retail at 324 yen, an impressively low price of around US$3. At that price, we might just have to get all four!


Images: Showa Note (1, 2, edited by RocketNews24), Run@town
[ Read in Japanese ]