Recently I listened to Paperclipping’s episode 185: Scrapbooking in Asia and kudos to Noell for attempting the topic. The episode was very much from the point of Westerners-in-Asia though, so I thought I’d write a post on what my experiences had been with scrapbooking in Asia (or more specifically Hong Kong) as a local.[1]I have attempted to leave a comment on the Paperclipping website, but I think the numerous links to shops and videos in my comment (as you’ll see in my own post) may have killed disqus and my post was completely gone. It wasn’t even in my disqus account when I logged in to see where it went… So that’s another reason why I’m doing the post in my own blog, to avoid that from happening again.[2]I am not talking about scrapbookers living in Asia who follows the Western style of scrapbooking. I am sure there are some, whether they are expats living in Asia or locals who have found online sources of information like Two Peas. The original podcast topic was about Asian style scrapbooking – or at least it was, and that is what I’m trying to address here.

Space in Hong Kong apartments is very limited, so even if early scrapbooking companies like Creative Memories did try to enter the Hong Kong market (which they did not), they would have found the reception to their space-eating-12×12 albums to be pretty cold.

Hobonichi Techo

So taking that into account, one would begin to realise that scrapbooking in Asia – or more accurately, memory keeping in Asia – would mean something quite different from the large 12×12 or 12×24 layouts that we’re used to seeing in Western cultures. Instead, try to think of memory keeping as something more like Amy Tangerine’s Daybooks, or K&Company’s Smashbooks and you’ll be close.

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One of the guests on Paperclipping’s episode mentioned that no one wants to scrapbook with local products because they are just stationery from 40 years ago. Yes, it’s true, there are quite a number of generic stationery stores that have really old stock stashed away in some back corner of the store.

However there are also plenty of small stationery stores tucked away in shopping complexes[3]I say shopping complex because these buildings are more like a commercial building jam packed with small little stores that you need to navigate your way around. Most of these stores are small and stuffed full from floor to ceiling with merchandise of all shapes and sizes. There are a few Korean stationery stores in Sino Centre that I go visit each time I go back to Hong Kong. like the Sino Centre or the CTMA centre, that sells cute Japanese or Korean stationery that can be and have been used as mini-scrapbooks.

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Big shopping centre franchises like Log-On is also a perfect place to pick up things like washi-tape, moleskine notebooks, or the Midori Traveller’s notebook. Again, think in terms of Daybooks, smashbooks or even travel mini-album.

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There is no such thing as a scrapbooking community or scrapbooking industry for Asian scrappers as say, Two Peas. So scrapbooking is not so much a communal thing, but more an individual expression or record keeping. Kind of like art journaling. And because there is no central store of information sharing of what is the latest paper products or art supply, a lot of what memory keeping means depends on the latest technology, design idea or “fad”.

One of the things that would really affect the type of memory keeping would be photography. A few years back, Holga cameras were all the rage, and then there were the instax cameras. Even now the number of instax film styles available in Hong Kong are astounding. Sure some people stick their photos on the walls, but there are instax photo albums around that people fill in like Project Life.

 Then most recently there are street photographers in Mongkok, Hong Kong that offers to take photos for you and print them instantly on the street for you.

It is not hard to imagine that services like these encourage people to “scrapbook”. Although one thing that’s interesting to note is that everything I’ve talked about so far is targeted towards a younger audience than is usual of the Western scrapbooking community. This is not an exercise that grandmothers or mothers undertake to record their children’s lives. This is something that high school or university students do in their spare time.

Scrapbooking in Asia is hardly few and far between, but it is a completely different creature from what scrapbooking is like in Western countries. It is more like a diary or art journal. And it is because of the more personal nature of this type of memory keeping that you would not see blog posts or online galleries showcasing pages upon pages of pretty layouts.

Hopefully this shed some light on the topic. And to sign off on this entry, I want to leave you with this majorly cute video which showcases what Asian scrapbooking looks like. This is actually an ad for a popular brand of yearly planner in Japan.

(Watch the whole video, it’s really cute!)

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I have attempted to leave a comment on the Paperclipping website, but I think the numerous links to shops and videos in my comment (as you’ll see in my own post) may have killed disqus and my post was completely gone. It wasn’t even in my disqus account when I logged in to see where it went… So that’s another reason why I’m doing the post in my own blog, to avoid that from happening again.
2. I am not talking about scrapbookers living in Asia who follows the Western style of scrapbooking. I am sure there are some, whether they are expats living in Asia or locals who have found online sources of information like Two Peas. The original podcast topic was about Asian style scrapbooking – or at least it was, and that is what I’m trying to address here.
3. I say shopping complex because these buildings are more like a commercial building jam packed with small little stores that you need to navigate your way around. Most of these stores are small and stuffed full from floor to ceiling with merchandise of all shapes and sizes. There are a few Korean stationery stores in Sino Centre that I go visit each time I go back to Hong Kong.