Posts filed under Muji

Muji 2B Pencil Review

Muji 2B Pencil Review

As I have become enlightened about Muji and their stationery over the years, I can’t help but think about what the underlying brands are for this white label wonder.

It has been easy to sort out the origins of the gel ink pens: The refills come directly from the sources. Even though all of the normal markings are removed, the refill shapes match their source companies refills. Even the plastic parts of the refills are the same colors as the OEM refill.

A quick twist of the barrel and you will see refills from Uni-ball, Zebra, and Pentel in use in their various gel ink pens. And its not like they are trying to hide it either - the Muji pen that uses the Zebra Sarasa refill is a spitting image of the Zebra Sarasa Clip pen. It’s easy to sort out.

The tip after writing my review notes. It does wear quickly.

The tip after writing my review notes. It does wear quickly.

The Muji Pencil though. That poses a challenge. What cues from the design can help me figure it out? Can I tell anything simply from the feel of the graphite core?

If this was a bad pencil I wouldn’t care. But it’s not. It’s downright awesome. When I first opened the package, sharpened one up, and put the tip to the page, my response was “Oh!” as in, this feels good. The graphite is smooth and dark. Yes, a 2B should feel that way, but I thought it was extra nice.

That led me immediately to my next question: “Who is making these for Muji?” I’ll cut to the chase right now and tell you I don’t know for sure, but the list of options is very, very short.

Muji 2B Pencil Test

The first words out of my mouth were that it reminds me of the Tombow Mono 100 - high praise indeed - but I didn’t have one at the time to test. I do now. I don’t own a 2B Tombow, but I did test the HB from the Mono, Mono 100, 8900, and 2558 lineups. And I don’t think the Muji pencil is made by Tombow. All of the Tombow cores felt similar to each other, and none had the smoothness or darkness of the Muji.

My second thought was Mitsubishi. Knowing the relationship that Muji already has with the company - Uni-ball gel ink refills for starters - I’d say this is the most likely scenario. The Mitsubishi 9850 feels really close, despite it being an HB versus 2B comparison. The consistency of the graphite on the page is much closer than anything from Tombow.

After being compelled by the 9850, I thought the 2B Mitsubishi Hi-Uni would be a closer match than it was, but it has a firmer core than the Muji by a good amount.

Surprisingly, the Blackwing Pearl was a close match for the Muji. The core felt similar, and the color and smoothness on the page was similar. I’m not sure if that says more about the 9850 or the Pearl. Regardless, these are the two closest matches, with of course the HB in the 9850 being firmer than the other two.

Muji 2B Pencil Barrel Stamp

One final point to make in my overthinking this: The pencil barrel has a code stamped into the barrel. I have no idea what it means, but I do know that the font used doesn’t match any of the Japanese pencils I own that have similar markings. The 6 is especially telling.

So, I’d love to tell you who makes this pencil, but I can’t say for sure. (Update: According to an enterprising reader they are made by Kitaboshi, making my Blackwing comment even more interesting than I knew. Seems legit!) What I can tell you is it looks great, feels great, and works great, and for a .50 cent pencil, what more can you ask for? Heck, it may even convert me over to the dark side of the B scale in time.

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Muji 2B Pencil Writing Sample
Posted on November 12, 2018 and filed under Muji, Pencil Reviews.

Muji Aluminum Pen Case and Needle Tip Gel Review

Muji Refillable Gel Ink Aluminum Barrel

My pen friends are the best, and Carmen (@ccorrada) might be the leader of the pack. Her latest trip took her to New York City, and she stopped by the Muji store to pick me up one of the newish Refillable Aluminum Pen Cases for their super popular 0.38mm gel ink refills.

Muji prides itself on minimalism in its design, but even more impressive to me is the seamless functionality of the few parts involved. The barrel has three parts - the tip, the barrel, and the cap - and any other Muji gel retractable ink cartridge fits right in. The neatest part (which I managed not to take a picture of - and neither did Amy) is how there is a cutout on the top of the cap to allows you to see what color ink refill you have loaded. Muji applies Apple's "It just works" philosophy perfectly to minimalism, and this pen is no different.

Muji Refillable Gel Ink Aluminum Barrel Exploded View

I have raved about the performance of the ink cartridge time and time again, so no need to rehash that other than to say I have yet to have any performance problems to speak of. What made this one unique to me was the fact this was a needle tip refill, where I have only used the conical tip in the past. In fact, I don't even see the needle tip as an option on their web site, so I'm pretty happy to have been sent this one.

Since these aren't the easiest pens to come by, you should be sure and grab one or several if the opportunity ever arises.

Posted on June 9, 2011 and filed under Muji, Pen Reviews.

Review: Muji Gel Standard Gel Ink Pen, plus a "Build Your Own"

This review is from UK reader Shabana, who also contributed the Nomadic Virgo-Attrezzo standing pen case review.


I will be reviewing the Muji "build you own" 0.5 retractable pen in purple, and the normal 0.38 stick gel pen in purple. In the pictures the blue is the same pen as the purple stick gel.

Starters: How big are the two pens in comparison to one another. They are roughly the same size when the stick is capped. However, the barrel of the RT is wider which is why I prefer the normal stick. When capped, the stick gel is longer by about 14mm. The stick looks better than the RT in my opinion especially the nib.

 Now, these two purples are different shades. I don't know why this is, and seeing as my local Muji only stocks the RTs in black and blue now I can't go back and check whether they did it in two shades. The stick gel definitely only comes in this shade of purple. From the top of the pens it can be seen that there is some difference.

Now for the writing. From the photo it can be seen that the stick gel is darker.

There is also a photo comparing the two shades of purple, and the darker purple with the blue.

The stick gel is a better writer and the 0.38 tip is sturdy. In fact, it can probably be used as a weapon should the need arise. I can't imagine writing with the RT in a 0.38 tip as even the 0.5 seems a little too fine for it. The barrel is also smoother where I would hold the pen. The stick is therefore better for precise writing/drawing whereas the RT is better for more 'loopy' larger handwriting. The good thing about the RT is that the entire cartridge comes out so you can use the empty barrel to try different colours. Both these write well in a Moleskine with absolutely no bleed-through. They are not so good on standard refill pads as the paper is too rough. They are excellent on smooth paper such as Black n' Red.

Over here the are around £1 each so definitely worth the price, although the 0.5 gel stick pens tend to run out pretty fast.

Posted on February 23, 2011 and filed under Gel, Muji, Pen Reviews.