Everything Neat and Tidy

Label Writer

TEPRA, the label writer born from the Japanese sense of beauty

In Japanese we sometimes use the expression mottainai. This phrase serves to expresses an aspect of the Japanese spirit, related to striving to live a rich life by taking good care of things.

This spirit of mottainai has been considered a virtue in Japan since ancient times, and today it is expressed in the custom of tidiness.
Take the inside of a refrigerator, for example. If you label containers with the name and expiration date of the food, you can avoid wasting food.
Also, when you swap out the clothes in your closet when the season changes, if you can see at a glance what clothes are stored where, you will be less likely to waste money buying new clothes.

This sensibility of keeping things clean and tidy around us, and appreciating each item as we continue to use it with care, has been handed down across generations of Japanese people.

Japanese label writers-machines designed to print labels-have evolved in a unique way to reflect this sense of beauty and orderliness in the office environment.

For example, the spine of a file. In the past, handwriting was the norm. However, handwritten characters are unique to each person, and so files displayed on a shelf can become cluttered and appear disorganized.

Of course, the content of the files themselves are important, but we also wish to pay attention to the beauty and orderliness of the spine headings. With this in mind, stationery manufacturer KingJim created the TEPRA label writer to make it easy for anyone to create beautiful labels. TEPRA allows you to print characters entered on the keyboard onto stickers and easily attach them to files. Since its launch in Japan, TEPRA has become a must-have stationery item, and today a row of labeled files neatly lined up has become a standard sight in Japanese offices.

Dairiki Inaba of the PR and Marketing Department at KING JIM, explains, "The custom of tidiness is strongly rooted in the lives of Japanese people, as they want to keep their surroundings in order. I believe that the aesthetic sense of the Japanese people has a lot to do with the popularity of TEPRA."

From Office Use to Personal Use

The first generation TEPRA (TR55) was released in 1988. Inspired by DYMO tape writers, which were already widespread around the world at the time, the first iteration featured a dial input system, but this was replaced by a keyboard on the back of the increasing popularity of word processors and PCs.

(Left) The first generation TEPRA TR55 (Right) The general-purpose TEPRA Pro

Originally designed for office use, TEPRA has since expanded to include a broad range of colorful printing and tape colors, and is now widely used outside of the office environment. TEPRA has also been adapted for personal use, including a dedicated smartphone app that allows users to input text.

(Left) A wide variety of colors of printing tape. Some can print white letters on a black background.
(Right) Various tape widths and materials are available. The upper tape is a ribbon. You can print a message on the material to make your own original, personalized ribbon.

Making Daily Tidying More Convenient and Personal

To date, more than 60 models of TEPRA have been released with a variety of functions. Nowadays, they are used for a wide range of purposes, not just labeling files.
For example, TEPRA can be used to organize and store items at home. Labeling storage cases and seasoning containers so that you can see at a glance where the items you use on a daily basis are located is key to keeping things in order every day.

TEPRA is also useful for labelling personal belongings. Labelling school supplies and materials that children carry is a standard part of the preparation for entering school in Japan. TEPRA, which can also print emoji pictograms and frames, allow even small children who cannot read to quickly identify their belongings.

TEPRA have other unexpected uses such as crafting and DIY, such as decorating smartphone cases or making one-of-a-kind ribbons with special messages.
Recently, not only can you choose from a variety of templates via an app, but you can also import your own handwritten messages, making it possible to create highly original labels.

In this way, the TEPRA has become a familiar part of people’s daily lives in Japan, not only in the office. Originally developed to respond to the needs of people who wanted to make their daily lives more orderly, organized and tidy, its applications have expanded and its usability has evolved.
The latest model, TEPRA PRO "MARK", looks like a square box without a keyboard. It is operated via a dedicated smartphone app.

The TEPRA PRO "MARK" and the Hello app.

In 2021, the TEPRA Lite Global Model will go on sale in 17 countries, including the U.S., and will be able to print in multiple languages via a dedicated app. In addition to text, users can also create and print avatars and illustrations.

TEPRA Lite Global Model

Junpei Watanabe, a spokesperson for KING JIM, explains his thoughts on the new model, "I hope that the culture of organizing things in a convenient and personal way will take root in other countries and societies outside of Japan in the future."

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