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My Bungu What?

neon stationery composition
With a little help from my friends. Got some cracking photos for the website courtesy of the talented Adrienne Mah who I am forever grateful to.

What's in a name?

(DISCLAIMER: Not a story about star-crossed lovers.)

文具 = bun・gu = stationery 

"Isn't it a bit weird for your international audience?"

"It's a bit 'funny' to pronounce isn't it?"

"Sounds like 'Bungle" (from the 'classic' kids TV show, Rainbow. RIP Vagabond)

"You want what in your box?!" (This one might only be understood by some of my close friends when I tell them that Frank said it...)

It seemed like everyone had an opinion about the name, and I get it. I know that you need to make things simple for your customers, try not to confuse them, make the name easy to pronounce and spell, but, when I found out the meaning behind the kanji (Chinese characters) I couldn't help it, I was drawn to it —

文  =  a letter or a document

具  =  a writing tool

Together they make up the word, bungu (pronounced "boon-goo" meaning stationery, in Japanese).

Japanese masking tapes, Mitsubishi pencils and a postcard
I wouldn't have had nice photos like this on the website if I hadn't asked for help. 

So what is in a name? For a personal project like mine, It's whatever you think feels right. Personally, I just really liked the alliteration. It's pronounced 'boon-goo' and it's quite fun to say.

Sometimes you've just got to go with what sounds right to you and deal with the feedback with a big smile on your face, after all, people are commenting and that means they're paying attention, right? At the end of the day, I'm delighted that I'm able to share my favourite stationery picks from Japan with an international audience. 

Pencils wrapped in patterned Japanese washi paper
You need your friends to help you line things up in your head.


  1. If you have an idea, stop the umm-ing and aah-ing and just start it. Fling up your website, test your product out with a small number, and go for it. Seriously, it's so cliche to say this, but if I can do it (and I'm the laziest person I know, I love naps, I don't run for buses or trains, and I like to queue up for the escalator) then anyone can.
  2. You will hear a lot of opinions, whether solicited or not. Take it all in, but remember, ultimately it's up to you to wade through it and pick and choose what you want to do.
  3. Some folks like to ask questions as if they're on the panel of Dragons Den. Be prepared. 
  4. Take advantage of people. Just kidding. What I mean is, your friends are some of the most valuable people in your life. They will listen to you, they will support you, they will tell you to stop being so dramatic and get on with it while you wail into your onigiri (rice ball). If you have friends who have talents that can help you, ask them and take the opportunity. It will save you so much time.

Thank you to everyone who gave me advice in the early days, solicited or otherwise, I appreciate it all!

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