• Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters in 2021 - Tried and True! (Zebra, Pentel, and More) 1
  • Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters in 2021 - Tried and True! (Zebra, Pentel, and More) 2
  • Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters in 2021 - Tried and True! (Zebra, Pentel, and More) 3
  • Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters in 2021 - Tried and True! (Zebra, Pentel, and More) 4
  • Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters in 2021 - Tried and True! (Zebra, Pentel, and More) 5

Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters in 2021 - Tried and True! (Zebra, Pentel, and More)

Highlighters are indispensable study assistants. It’s their job to point out and help you remember the most vital parts of your notes, textbook, or documents. Of course, finding the best one, that doesn't smear all over the page, can be hard. And stationery is competitive in Japan, where they have some of the most innovative highlighters in the world, including ones that are retractable, erasable, and fast-drying.

That’s why we ordered the 14 most popular highlighters from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and kakaku.com) and tested for the following:

  1. How Easily It Writes
  2. How Quickly It Dries
  3. How Functional It is
  4. How Rich the Color is

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese highlighters.

Experts featured in this article

Michelle Tirronen
  • Last updated: 06-07-2021
  • 3,234 views
Table of Contents

Top 14 Best Japanese Highlighters

Here, we'll the 14 best Japanese highlighters available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from 1.0 to 5.0.

1
Mitsubishi Pencil PROPUS Window Q-Dry 1

Mitsubishi PencilPROPUS Window Q-Dry

$2.30

Japanese三菱鉛筆 プロパス・ウインドウ クイックドライ
Writes easily4.0
Dries quickly5.0
Functional5.0
ColorsCoral Pink, Salmon Pink, Golden Yellow, Lime Green, Violet, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Sky Blue
Overall score5.0
2
Japaneseゼブラ ジャストフィット
Writes easily5.0
Dries quickly4.0
Functional5.0
ColorsOrange, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Blue Green, Dark Blue, Purple, Red, Yellow Orange
Overall score5.0
3
Mitsubishi Pencil PROPUS Window 1

Mitsubishi PencilPROPUS Window

$2.20

Japanese三菱鉛筆 プロパス・ウインドウ
Writes easily4.0
Dries quickly3.0
Functional4.0
ColorsPeach, Orange, Yellow, Green, Sky Blue (Soft Colors: Dandelion, Lime, Aqua, Lavender, Sakura)
Overall score4.0
4
Japaneseゼブラ マイルドライナー
Writes easily3.0
Dries quickly3.0
Functional4.0
ColorsMild Red, Mild Pink, Mild Orange, Mild Yellow, Mild Green, Mild Blue Green, Mild Blue, Mild Dark Blue, Mild Violet, Mild Grey, Mild Magenta, Mild Vermilion, Mild Gold, Mild Smokey Blue, Mild Brown
Overall score4.0
5
Japaneseゼブラ 蛍光オプテックス ケア
Writes easily4.0
Dries quickly4.0
Functional2.0
ColorsRed, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Dark Blue, Fuchsia, Purple, Brown
Overall score4.0
6
Pentel Retractable Handy Line S 1

PentelRetractable Handy Line S

$5.22

Japaneseぺんてる ノック式ハンディラインS
Writes easily4.0
Dries quickly2.0
Functional4.0
ColorsPink, Orange, Yellow, Light Green, Sky Blue, Violet
Overall score4.0
7
Japanese三菱鉛筆 uni プロマーク ビュー
Writes Easily2.0
Dries Quickly3.0
Functional4.0
ColorsYellow, Peach, Orange, Green, Sky Blue
Overall Score3.0
8
Japaneseコクヨ Beetle Tip
Writes Easily2.0
Dries Quickly3.0
Functional3.0
ColorsPink, Orange, Yellow, Light Green, Light Blue
Overall Score3.0
9
Kokuyo WiLL STATIONERY ACTIC Highlighter 2 Color Twin 1

KokuyoWiLL STATIONERY ACTIC Highlighter 2 Color Twin

$1.39

Japaneseコクヨ WiLL STATIONERY ACTIC 蛍光マーカー 2色ツイン
Writes easily4.0
Dries quickly2.0
Functional2.0
ColorsPink & Light Green, Orange & Light Blue, Yellow & Purple
Overall score3.0
10
Japaneseパイロット スポットライターVW
Writes easily3.0
Dries quickly2.0
Functional3.0
ColorsYellow & Pink, Yellow & Orange, Yellow & Green, Pink & Orange, Pink & Green, Yellow & Blue, Pink & Blue
Overall score2.0
11
Tombow Pencil Co. Keicoat80 1

Tombow Pencil Co.Keicoat80

$0.69

Japaneseトンボ鉛筆 蛍コート 80
Writes Easily3.0
Dries Quickly2.0
Functional2.0
ColorsBrown, Orange, Blue, Red, Peach, Sky Blue, Yellow, Purple, Chartreuse, Golden Yellow
Overall Score2.0

Compare the Best Japanese Highlighters

Image
1
Mitsubishi Pencil PROPUS Window Q-Dry 1

Mitsubishi Pencil

2
Zebra Justfit 1

Zebra

3
Mitsubishi Pencil PROPUS Window 1

Mitsubishi Pencil

4
Zebra Mildliner 1

Zebra

5
Zebra Highlighter OPTEX CARE 1

Zebra

6
Pentel Retractable Handy Line S 1

Pentel

7
Mitsubishi Pencil uni promark VIEW 1

Mitsubishi Pencil

8
Kokuyo Beetle Tip 1

Kokuyo

9
Kokuyo WiLL STATIONERY ACTIC Highlighter 2 Color Twin 1

Kokuyo

10
Pilot Spotliter VW 1

Pilot

11
Tombow Pencil Co. Keicoat80 1

Tombow Pencil Co.

Name

PROPUS Window Q-Dry

Justfit

PROPUS Window

Mildliner

Highlighter OPTEX CARE

Retractable Handy Line S

uni promark VIEW

Beetle Tip

WiLL STATIONERY ACTIC Highlighter 2 Color Twin

Spotliter VW

Keicoat80

Features

Drying Speed and Functionality Won Top Marks

The Flexible Pen Tip Can Draw Straight Lines Anywhere

Clear-Tipped, Smooth, and also Available for Cheaper than Its Q-Dry Counterpart

A Mild Ink That Leaves Print Clear and Is Gentle on the Eyes

The Retro Style and the Way It Writes are Both Top Class

Ready for Use in a Flash With Its Convenient Retractable Feature

Its Clear Point Left the Strongest Impression

Very Functional, but Has a Bit of a Learning Curve

Draws in Uniform Lines and Is Steady Thanks to the Square Barrel

An Inky Highlighter With Vivid Colors

Indispensable if You Must Have Pin-Straight Lines

Price$2.30$1.65$2.20$1.50$1.27$5.22$1.33$2.65$1.39$2.20$0.69
Japanese三菱鉛筆 プロパス・ウインドウ クイックドライゼブラ ジャストフィット三菱鉛筆 プロパス・ウインドウゼブラ マイルドライナーゼブラ 蛍光オプテックス ケアぺんてる ノック式ハンディラインS三菱鉛筆 uni プロマーク ビューコクヨ Beetle Tipコクヨ WiLL STATIONERY ACTIC 蛍光マーカー 2色ツインパイロット スポットライターVWトンボ鉛筆 蛍コート 80
Writes easily4.05.04.03.04.04.02.02.04.03.03.0
Dries quickly5.04.03.03.04.02.03.03.02.02.02.0
Functional5.05.04.04.02.04.04.03.02.03.02.0
ColorsCoral Pink, Salmon Pink, Golden Yellow, Lime Green, Violet, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Sky BlueOrange, Pink, Yellow, Green, Blue, Blue Green, Dark Blue, Purple, Red, Yellow OrangePeach, Orange, Yellow, Green, Sky Blue (Soft Colors: Dandelion, Lime, Aqua, Lavender, Sakura)Mild Red, Mild Pink, Mild Orange, Mild Yellow, Mild Green, Mild Blue Green, Mild Blue, Mild Dark Blue, Mild Violet, Mild Grey, Mild Magenta, Mild Vermilion, Mild Gold, Mild Smokey Blue, Mild BrownRed, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Dark Blue, Fuchsia, Purple, BrownPink, Orange, Yellow, Light Green, Sky Blue, VioletYellow, Peach, Orange, Green, Sky BluePink, Orange, Yellow, Light Green, Light BluePink & Light Green, Orange & Light Blue, Yellow & PurpleYellow & Pink, Yellow & Orange, Yellow & Green, Pink & Orange, Pink & Green, Yellow & Blue, Pink & BlueBrown, Orange, Blue, Red, Peach, Sky Blue, Yellow, Purple, Chartreuse, Golden Yellow
Overall score5.05.04.04.04.04.03.03.03.02.02.0
Link

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

If you draw fast and precise lines, the Kuretake Brush Hilite can be like a dream come true. It worked well on thick books, like dictionaries, where the pages are arched (and so difficult to use traditional highlighters on), and you can even use it for art.

However, for those of us not used to using brush pens, it was difficult to control. It was great for drawing thin lines, but we needed a bit of skill and strength to maintain a thick, even line.

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

As far as we know, Pilot Frixion Light is the only erasable highlighter out there. It gives you the unique ability to change your mind and edit your highlights after the fact. 


However, the color didn’t come evenly out of this highlighter, and the pink was so cloudy that it made even black print a little difficult to read. The ink, unfortunately, earned it one score of 1.0.

Products That Didn't Make The Cut

Just as its name suggests, Tombow Pencil Co. Play Color Dot functioned best as a dot stamp. Its round sponge-like tip made it perfect for making bullet points next to important words and phrases, but unsuited for drawing straight lines. 


It was so wet it left little ink puddles on the page, earning it a 1.0 for drying speed. The color also came out uneven.

How We Tested the Highlighters

We gathered 14 popular Japanese highlighters from Amazon, Rakuten, and kakaku.com and tested them for how well they wrote, how quickly they dried, how functional they were, and how rich the color was.

Test ① How Easily It Writes

Test ① How Easily It Writes
First, we looked at how easily each highlighter wrote.

We honed in on things like how easy it was to draw a line of uniform thickness and how the tip felt against paper. We then graded each highlighter on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0.

Flexible and Fat Tips Wrote the Most Easily, No Matter the Type or Thickness of Paper

Flexible and Fat Tips Wrote the Most Easily, No Matter the Type or Thickness of Paper
The highlighters that were deemed easiest to write with utilized flexible, fat pen tips. That fat tip acted as a kind of cushion, allowing us to get a straight, uniform line no matter the strength or steadiness of hand and quality or thickness of paper.
Stiffer pen tips obviously offer you little wiggle room, but don’t go for one that’s too soft either, as it shifts easily under an unsteady hand, making the highlighter even more difficult to use.
Zebra’s Justfit is a prime example of a good tip. It’s soft enough to cover for any mistakes you make while angling the highlighter, and it’ll produce a uniform line, even among the tight print in a dictionary. It also draws straight even if your hand does shake and quiver a bit, so it’s a good one to try out if your highlights are normally messy.

Test ② How Quickly It Dries

Test ② How Quickly It Dries
Next, we tested how quickly each highlighter dried.

We simply tried to smear each line with our hands, and then graded the highlighters on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0.

Tons of Highlighters Worked Well, Despite Not Making Any Claims About Drying Speed

Tons of Highlighters Worked Well, Despite Not Making Any Claims About Drying Speed
The majority of our testers gave Mitsubishi Pencil’s PROPUS Window Q-Dry full points on this test. Even the freshly-laid ink didn’t smear when we touched it, substantiating our claim that products that claim to be fast-drying are usually fast-drying.
However, highlighters like Zebra’s Justfit and OPTEX CARE, neither of which made any claims as to speed, also did well on this test, taking only about two seconds to dry. 

Basically, any ink that is quite transparent and absorbs quickly into paper is going to be quick-drying. On the other hand, if the ink tends to pool, then it’ll end up smearing and staining your hands.

Test ③ How Functional It is

Test ③ How Functional It is
Next, we looked at functionality.

To be more specific, we checked to see if the highlighter had any special features and whether they were actually helpful. We then graded on highlighter on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0.

Though They May Differentiate Themselves From the Competition, Not All Features Are Practical

Though They May Differentiate Themselves From the Competition, Not All Features Are Practical
There were tons of products with new features, such as 2-way tips, windows, and magical ink. However, just because a product has special features doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to use.
There were products that shined because of their uniqueness, such as Pentel’s Retractable Handy Line S (retractable highlighter) and Pilot’s Frixion Light (erasable ink). However, there were also products that, frankly, added on unnecessary features that actually led to bad reviews, such as Tombow Pencil’s Play Color Dot.

Test ④ How Rich the Color is

Test ④ How Rich the Color is
Finally, we tested for color.
In order to accurately compare products from different brands, we focused only on pink highlighters. We highlighted text printed onto normal printer paper and looked both at how clear the color showed up and at how easy it was to read the words underneath.

The Most Important Factor Was How Fluorescent the Color Was, Rather Than How Rich It Was

The Most Important Factor Was How Fluorescent the Color Was, Rather Than How Rich It Was
Even if the color was rich and deep, as long as it was in a fluorescent shade, we could still see black print underneath. 

On the other hand, if the color was deep and not florescent, almost a purple tone, rather than pink, then the print underneath would be hidden. They might be eye-catching, but we wouldn’t say such products really fulfill their roles as highlighters.

Also, two highlighters could be from the same brand, but be in colors of varying intensity. If you’re someone that likes paler colors, then your best bet would to be to look for products labelled as either mild or soft in color.

How to Choose a Japanese Highlighter – Buying Guide

Here, we want to introduce four things you should look out for when picking out a highlighter.

Get a Highlighter that Draws Well

Not all highlighters are tipped with the same angular block. There are tips with windows in them, tips coated in resin, and tips that are basically brushes. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each, and it will be a simple task to choose a highlighter you find easy to work with.

Tips with Windows in Them Let You See Through to the Words Underneath

Tips with Windows in Them Let You See Through to the Words Underneath
If you hate making mistakes, then a highlighter with a window installed in the tip might be good for you. Because you can see exactly what you’re highlighting as you’re highlighting it, you’ll never start drawing a few letters too early or end a few letters too late.
Windows are especially helpful for marking up textbooks or documents where the letters are printed close together.

Ones That are Coated in Resin Don’t Wear Down as Quickly

Ones That are Coated in Resin Don’t Wear Down as Quickly
Tips that are coated in resin are a godsend if you use a ruler when highlighting or if you write with heavy strokes.
The resin coating reinforces the tip, keeping it from wearing down or fraying. It not only makes highlighting a lot steadier, it keeps the pen looking and acting like new for a long, long time.

Brush Tips Allow You to Completely Control the Thickness of Your Highlights

Brush Tips Allow You to Completely Control the Thickness of Your Highlights
If you want to vary the width of your strokes, a brush-tipped highlighter is going to be your best bet.
The tip not only ensures that you can highlight thick or thin or on fine print or large print easily, but also prevents any ink splotches or uneven areas of color, once you learn how to control it. If you like neon colors, you can also use brush highlighters for art; overall, these allow you the most control over your highlighting.

Make Sure That it Dries Quickly

Make Sure That it Dries Quickly
If you want to be as fast and efficient with your highlighting as possible, look for a highlighter that dries quickly. You won’t need to worry about the ink smearing or rubbing off, so you can move onto the next word, row, and page just like that.
Generally speaking, highlighters that have been marked as “quick-drying” do live up to their claims. If they haven’t been so labelled, however, you’ll have to try the highlighter out for yourself.

Check for Extra Features

Check for Extra Features
There are what we call 2-way highlighters in Japan, which have both a thick and a thin tip. There are also retractable highlighters, erasable highlighters, as well as highlighters where you can refill the ink.
Think about what features you’d like before making your purchase.

Pick a Color That Helps You Concentrate

Pick a Color That Helps You Concentrate
As much as you may personally love hot neon pink, when it comes to highlighters, you want a color that’s easy to distinguish. This means not only a color that’s easy to distinguish on the page, but a color that makes it easy to distinguish the words underneath. 

If, for example, you find neon colors hard to look at for extended periods of time, then go for softer pastel tones.

You also want to take into consideration the sheer variety of colors a pen has to offer. Colors can be mixed and matched to meet various needs; you could use blue, which supposedly boosts concentration on passages you need to memorize, and yellow or pink or red on other passages you want to emphasize.

Check Out These Other Writing Tools

Check Out These Other Writing Tools

Stationary is more than just a writing utensil. It can add quirkiness to your letters or your journal entries, and just looking at cute or colorful designs and leave you feeling just that little bit happier. If you're looking for more awesome tools, take a look below!

Summary

We rounded up experts and members of our editing department, purchased the 14 most popular Japanese highlighters, and tested them all.

With highlighters, it’s best to get a few different colors and affix to each some kind of purpose or meaning. Then, once you’ve come up with your own code, it’ll be that much easier to review your notes and documents later on.

Author: Nao Kondo/Translation: Jasmine Li


Get Motivation to Write With an Expert-Recommended Journal

Journals don't have to be used for the express purpose of writing your thoughts and feelings. You can simply use them as notebooks or as planners. But having a journal with a beautiful design on it can help motivate you to write more, so why not take a look at this one recommended by photographer Michelle Tirronen?

Expert's
pick

PapersourceWildwood Blush Fabric Journal

$24.95

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    If you’ve ever worn a retainer or clear aligner, there have definitely been times when you’ve noticed strange odors or unsettling build-up on it, no matter how well you’ve rinsed or brushed it. But it’s not your fault. Retainers are full of nooks and crannies that can be hard to clean, so it’s a good idea to look for a cleaner that’s specifically made to handle that task. But it can be hard to pick and find what will work for youIn this guide, prepared with Dental Hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing a retainer cleaner that’s right for you, plus a tip for keeping your retainers in tip-top condition. We’ve also got a list of our 9 favorites to help you get started, with guardClean's Mouthguard, Aligner and Retainer Cleaning Spray taking our number one spot. Read on to find out why!
    Household goods
    29,542 views
  • Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Mops in 2021 (O-Cedar, Casabella, and More)
    Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Mops in 2021 (O-Cedar, Casabella, and More)
    Mops aren’t really something that you think of as eco-friendly or not–after all, you can use the same mop for years at a time. But when making a conscious effort to make your home more environmentally friendly, it’s important to think about all areas of your life, especially when it’s time to replace old items.In this guide, we’ll talk about what exactly makes a mop more or less eco-friendly, as well as the factors you should look for when deciding what works best for your situation. We’ve also got a list of our 10 favorites to help you to start your search, including our top pick, Mayshine's Microfiber Hardwood Floor Mop!
    Household goods
    19,431 views
  • Top 10 Best Menstrual Pads in 2021 (Stayfree, Kotex, and More)
    Top 10 Best Menstrual Pads in 2021 (Stayfree, Kotex, and More)
    While getting your period is a very common experience, people all have their own ways of dealing with that "time of the month!" By far, the product many people choose during their cycle is a menstrual pad. Whether you're new to all of this or you're looking to restock your supply, it can be challenging to navigate through the plethora of types and brands of pads. The easiest way to find the right pad is to know your body; your needs are unique to your skin type, body shape, and flow. After detailed research, we've come up with the top 10 best menstrual pads sold online. Stayfree's Maxi Pads come in first place for their absorbency and utility. Have a look at the other products that made it to our list. The buying guide in this article will assist you in your purchase, too!
    Household goods
    5,800 views
  • Top 10 Best Toothpaste Dispensers in 2021
    Top 10 Best Toothpaste Dispensers in 2021
    Are you struggling to get the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube? Do your children have a hard time putting the right amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush? Or are you looking to have a more effective teeth-cleaning routine? A toothpaste dispenser may be the solution to your problems!The market offers so many different types of these dispensers that it can be confusing to choose the best one for you. Luckily, we already did the research to help you find your match. We fell in love with the Weketi Toothbrush and Toothpaste Squeezer Kit because of its versatility and functionality. If you want to learn about the other nine great options for toothpaste dispensers, keep reading, and check out our buying guide further down!
    Household goods
    4,778 views
  • Top 10 Best Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth in 2021 (Dental Hygienist-Reviewed)
    Top 10 Best Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth in 2021 (Dental Hygienist-Reviewed)
    Tired of brushing your sensitive teeth with toothpaste that's too abrasive or strong? Toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth is a great option for people who are looking to clean, protect, and whiten their smile without irritation and pain. Some are even made so customers can bypass certain commonly-avoided ingredients!That's why we took it upon ourselves to research the best sensitive toothpastes out there. We love the Colgate Sensitive Whitening Toothpaste because of its enamel protecting and teeth whitening abilities. Check out what else made our top 10 list, as well as what to look for in different kinds of toothpaste and tips from dental hygienist Jaeyoung Yoo in our buying guide!
    Household goods
    506 views
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