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Papersky Tools

An Iconic Mountain Trekking Companion


PAPERSKY TOOLS is a collection of items that put the fun in travel, packed with ideas and encounters gleaned from the travels of PAPERSKY Editor in Chief Lucas B.B. In this series, we chat with Lucas about the story of how each item came into being, from idea to creation. This episode features items designed around the official PAPERSKY character Lucámon.


ー How did the official PAPERSKY character Lucámon come into being?

The character Lucámon is a cross of my name, Lucas, and that of a famous Japanese historical figure, Mito Komon [1628–1701]. He’s the titular character of Japan’s longest-running TV period drama series, Mito Komon, which depicts him traveling throughout Japan by foot, saving the local villagers from evil and injustice in every corner of the nation. He was a hero who made the world a better place.

I love walking too, and I regularly plan journeys along Japan’s premodern travel routes for the project “Old Japanese Highway.” In 2014, during the Imo Jizo trip covering 300 kilometers from Ehime to Kagoshima, a friend said I remind him of Mito Komon. That was when I first conceived the idea of Lucámon. I then did some research and found I had a lot more in common with this historic wanderer.

ー Can you give us some examples?

Mito Komon was a history buff who created the first Japanese guidebook and began compiling a series of books on the history of Japan. He was well versed in medicine and grew herbs for his own studies. Known as a gourmet, he is said to be one of the first Japanese to eat ramen noodles. And having enjoyed exotic foods like yogurt and wine, and favored Dutch-made knitted socks, he was curious by nature and intrigued by foreign imports and Western fashions.

Ever since I came from the United States to Japan, I’ve studied the history and culture of various areas in depth to create maps and publish my magazine. And I’m inspired by encounters on my travels to grow basil and eat delicious food. I thought it was amazing that two people from different time periods could have so much in common.

ー The first thing that strikes us about Lucámon is his cute looks. How did you go about developing the character?

Lucámon was designed by the illustrator Koji Mayumi. I had wanted to work with him for some time. We developed the character around the idea of keeping the elements of Mito Komon that everybody knows and merging them with items that I actually use in real life.

Lucámon is a hiker, you see, so he carries a backpack. He’s got a sacoche bag with an amulet, a walking stick with a bear bell, a gourd-shaped water bottle, tabi footwear, an umbrella, and last but not least, an inro seal with the PAPERSKY mark. He’s a modern-day Mito Komon!

ー PAPERSKY magazine features Lucámon as the main character of a manga series, also by Koji Mayumi.

We started “Lucámon on the Road” in 2017. Each episode zooms in on a story that unfolds as Lucámon and pals are hiking the trail. It often incorporates real-life bits of conversation and anecdotes from our travels of Japan’s ancient roads and old highways.The story also integrates elements of regional culture or local trivia, so the readers get a fun lesson in Japanese history while enjoying the manga. The sweet, friendly world of Koji-san’s illustrations provides a nice accent to the magazine. It’s one of my favorite pages.

ー And now you offer a Lucámon key ring and sticker. Do you have any recommended uses for these items?

The rubber key ring is an iconic item with an embossed surface and eye-catching design. It makes a statement, so you can attach it to something you don’t want to lose, or hang it on your pack or sacoche so that Lucámon stays with you during your travels.The sticker is part of a value pack featuring various PAPERSKY motifs, including Lucámon. The stickers are water and weather resistant, making them perfect for your suitcase and outdoor gear.

ー What makes Lucámon special for you? Do you have any future plans or dreams?

Up to now Lucámon was known only to readers of PAPERSKY magazine. I hope the merchandise will get more people to recognize and enjoy the character. Lucámon isn’t just cute looking. Every journey has a special purpose, a special story, and Lucámon is designed to inspire you to explore history with your own eyes and hit the mountain trail with your own two feet. I can’t wait to plan my next trip with Lucámon.

To purchase this LUCÁMON Key Holder as well as other items in the Papersky Store collection just click on the circle in this banner. The Papersky online Store is a travel shop edited by Papersky magazine featuring: light, compact, simply designed, inspiring and well made stuff from Japan and the world.
text | Aoi Inagaki photography | Hightide