mati mati stationery by Zenrin: explore Japan’s streets on paper

Live somewhere long enough, and you’ll get to know the local streets. Spend enough time on Google Street View, and you’ll learn your way around neighbourhoods you’ve never set foot in.

And when – ’cause it’s never an ‘if’, only when – you run out of mobile data, get your bearings with mati mati Japan map stationery.

It’s a small world… with a lot going on

Zenrin makes maps. Proper ones, like car sat nav map files on SD cards, and business-friendly smartphone apps. They also know when to have fun with their seriously impressive amount of data.

To be picky, ‘mati mati’ should be ‘machi machi’ – because ‘machi’ is ‘town’. But if you’re typing or texting in Japanese, and you type ‘ti’, the ‘chi’ kana comes up. So we get how that happened.

A more important word here is ‘sonder’:

The realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complete as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

That (kinda intense) curiosity about other people’s lives inspired mati mati.

Local streets and buildings (shops, restaurants, salons) are places where we create memories. Roads you know nothing about are walked down every day by random people you’ll never meet. The mati mati range is your window onto new, interesting bits of Japan.

From Hokkaido to Okinawa, and loads in between

So far, the lineup covers a decent number of Japan’s 47 prefectures (as of Oct ’18) with 15 areas:

  • Tokyo – Omotesando, Kichijoji, Marunouchi
  • Osaka – Namba (Dotonbori), Umeda
  • Kyoto – Kiyamachi
  • Hyogo – Kobe
  • Hiroshima – Aioi-doori
  • Kanagawa – Yokohama
  • Nagoya – Hisaya-odoori
  • Fukuoka – Tenjin
  • Ishikawa – Kanazawa
  • Miyagi – Sendai
  • Sapporo – Odoori Park
  • Okinawa – Naha

Obvs we enjoy seeing Osaka repped twice on that list. The Dotonbori area’s packed with cool stuff.

Each area’s been given a colour scheme, and a theme – ‘breakfast’ in Nagoya, ‘cats’ in Kichijoji, ‘bus’ in Tenjin and ‘bakery’ in Kobe. We doubt it’s a coincidence that Kyoto looks matcha green, or that Sapporo’s ice blue and grey with snowflakes.

A few street names and places of interest are printed in English, making them simpler to remember. And making you feel smug. ‘Why, you simply take a shortcut through Shirakawa Park, of course!’

Stuff for plotting your own route through life

Area designs use that top-down, easy-to-understand road map style. Helps that they’re all flat. The one that looks most map-like is the 20-sheet Map Wrap Notepad.

Each sheet’s blank on the back. But with full street map design on the other side, they work great as origami paper, envelopes, and wrapping paper. Choose between ‘day colour’ and ‘night colour’ sheets, with different colours and shading. Makes sense – Zenrin sat navs have night mode, why not the paper versions?

Street-themed memo masking tape‘s another fun idea – let the road wind on and on, or cut it off after 3 blocks. You’ve got 5 metres of tape to work with. And the width’s just enough to see buildings and parks peeking out either side of the street.

Tape a piece over the matching city map, and it’ll line up perfectly. Same way the 3-layer A4 clear files do.

Landmarks, road signs and shading are split up across the layers. Colour-coding down the side helps you remember the order they go in. The product pics make it look like 4 layers not 3, but the more the better.

Last but not least, Travel Tag Fusen post-its match the area theme.

Use them as memo pads, bookmarks, ‘this is important’ tags, and stickers. Each city’s theme really sticks out here – 2 out of 5 designs don’t have anything map-related on them at all.

Well, to be fair, you should really know your way around by now…

Make your own marks on a mati mati Japan map

Surprise people with how much you suddenly know about Japanese city geography. Get mati mati stationery and masking tape for yourself, with URLs from the Zenrin online store and the DEJAPAN item request form.

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