At the end of my first ever blog post (The Mighty Fountain Pen Paper Review) I mentioned that I had a Taroko Design notebook on the way, which is full of Tomoe River paper. I spent my first blog post talking about Midori MD paper, and the benefits I found in using in compared to Tomoe River paper. Well, this notebook has changed that!!
The notebook I had on order was Taroko Design’s Breeze Notebook. This is an A5 sized notebook, with 183 pages of white Tomoe River 68gsm paper, dot-grid pages. Taroko also has a 384 page variety called the Enigma Notebook, if you fancy more pages, and the option of blank pages instead of the dot-grid. See their web store for their full range of products here!!. Also of interest may be their Instagram, or Etsy store if you have issues with the web store.
My first impression of the notebook was simplicity- the cover is basic but pleasantly clean and smart, with a nice subtle tape over the binding. The label on the front is also simple design, but again I find it quite smart and have no desire to cover it (Taroko do sell covers for some of their notebooks, but these are designed to fit the larger Enigma). The cover itself is made from a sturdy cardboard, which meant I decided to not search for an additional cover.
When you open the notebook, you’re greeted with two pages of carbon-paper-style thin cardboard in two shades of blue. This may seem odd, but I find on notebooks which utilise the first few pages, these pages are often difficult to use due to the binding, meaning these pages do not lie flat. Instead, the first page of paper in the Breeze is the Index page, which lays completely flat- a nice touch! Speaking of the Index page, this is a simple but wonderful addition to a basic notebook. I had never had an Index page in a notebook previously, but it is excellent- especially with the numbered pages in the Breeze! I can easily find any previous writing that I am after!!
Time to move on from the excellent design of the Breeze, and into the actual performance. In my previous blog, I had mentioned that I found Tomoe River (52 gsm) to be impractical for daily use due to the extreme thin-ness of the paper. This meant that I couldn’t write on both sides and creased the corners easily. Moreover, I had only used blank Tomoe River, and my writing clearly needs some guidance to stay straight!
The Breeze Notebook, with its 68 gsm Tomoe River paper and dot-grid ruling deal with all these complaints I had. The 68 gsm paper is thicker, and thus performs similar to a ‘regular’ paper- I have no creased corners, and can write happily on both sides.
In terms of performance for fountain pens, I believe this 68 gsm paper (and the Breeze Notebook design) is simply perfect. As I said, I find it more practical, but this practicality still allows for Tomoe River-esque performance.
All of my nibs feel smooth on the paper, and I don’t experience the feedback that Midori MD paper provides for stub nibs. Moreover, I find that the sheen is still extremely evident- many people find that the 68 gsm paper does not sheen as strongly compared to 52 gsm paper (with which I agree), but I don’t find there to be a significant reduction!
My most significant concern for this notebook was the dry-time of Tomoe River paper, in a notebook format. Typically Tomoe River takes eternity (and then some!) to dry, which is what produces such excellent sheens. However, in a notebook, where you have to turn pages to continue writing, I thought this would be problematic.
I optimistically tried a maximum 20 second dry-time test on the first page (top left), but decided to set up a slightly longer version on the second page (right). As you can see, it sure is a slow-drying paper, although I find that when writing (rather than drawing wet lines) that the ink is dried within approximately 30 seconds, and the page can often be turned sooner. As I am on break from my studies at the moment (being summer and all) I am yet to test whether it will be possible to use this notebook for lecture note-taking, but I am quietly optimistic.
The other concern with Tomoe River paper is the strong show-through seen (particularly with 52 gsm), due to the thin-ness of the paper. In a notebook, this could have been problematic, as most people use both sides of the page, myself included. However, with the 68 gsm paper, I did not find this an issue, and use both sides, no dramas! There is also no evidence of bleed-through, except where I cut the paper marginally in the middle of the ‘X’.
The two top photos (above) show the reverse sides of the review pages when laying against the notebook, and whilst there is some show-through, I don’t find it problematic. Also, for my reviews I poured a lot of ink into the pages (such as the ink ‘boxes’), which I don’t frequently do while writing lecture notes, so the show-through is usually less evident than above. The bottom photo (above) is the first page, but held up to the light. You can clearly see places where I have put down a lot of ink, but not so much of the writing. In summary? Not a problem for me, but something to consider.
The last thing to consider is my favourite feature of the Breeze Notebook- the last four pages are designed specifically for ink swabs!
This is a nifty feature, which I have not seen before. There is space for 20 ink swabs, details about the ink and pen used for the sample. I have adapted this slightly, using the Pen and Nib sections for pens I find the ink to suit particularly well, for future reference. These ink swab space take this notebook from exceptional to phenomenal in my mind!
So, a month after professing my love for Midori MD paper (which I do still love!), I now have a new daily notebook! Since I received this Breeze Notebook, I have not touched my Midori MD A5 notebooks, and have no intention of doing so. If that isn’t a testament to how pleased I am with this notebook, nothing will be!
Please note: I am a full-paying customer, and have not been compensated in any way by Taroko Shop for this review- these opinions and photos are my own.