Tag Archives: stationery

Japan Word of the Day #112 – Sharp Pencil

Today’s Word is: Sharp Pencil (シャープペンシル)

Sharp pencil or shāpu penshiru (シャープペンシル) is a Japanese-coined English word that refers to a mechanical pencil. It’s also called shāpen (シャーペン) in short form.


Mechanical pencil used to be called kuridashi enpitsu (meaning “roll-out pencil”). In 1916, Tokuji Hayawa, the founder of Hayakawa Metal Industries who invented the first metal-cased mechanical pencil in Japan, called it “Ever Ready Sharp Pencil (エバーレディシャープペンシル).” This name was once patented, but Hayakawa had to sell the patent in order to pay off the debt from Great Kanto Earthquake. Later on, Hayakawa’s friend Fukui Shōjiro imported mechanical pencils from abroad and sold it as “Sharp Pencil” based on Ever Ready Sharp Pencil.

Hayakawa Metal Industries has since became today’s electronics company SHARP. SHARP’s name was actually derived from Ever Ready Sharp Pencil. Fukui Shōjiro’s shop, on the other hand, became today’s LION Office Products, a stationery company.

Image source: Go! Go! Sago