Posts filed under Nakaya

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri with Kanji and a Gold Zogan: A Review

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri with Kanji and a Gold Zogan Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that my all-time favorite fountain pens are Nakayas. I simply adore them. I love their simple aesthetic, balance in the hand, incredible nibs, and the way they sing when I write with them.

I found this Nakaya on the nibs.com “pre-owned” page and snapped it up. I don’t have a long cigar in my collection, nor do I have any Nakayas with Kanji or gold zogans.

Nakayas are packaged in a softwood box (Paulownia wood) with a red velveteen insert. Included are a kimono (not pictured) and a box of Nakaya cartridges. The pen comes with a Nakaya converter as well.

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri Box

The Long Cigar is just that: long. It measures 165mm capped and 145mm uncapped. Nakayas aren’t really meant to be posted. Even so, it is not a heavy pen at all, weighing only 27 grams capped and 20 grams uncapped (with converter inked). The pen is perfectly balanced in the hand.

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri

This Nakaya has the Aka-Tamenuri finish, which is a red urushi. You can best see the subtleties of the color when you look at the cap edges and the grip section (pictured below).

In addition, this Nakaya has two extra special touches: Kanji and a gold zogan. The kanji, ikemori means something like “guardian of the pond.” A friend on Instagram explained that it refers to a person in charge of irrigation ponds in medieval Japan. Since this is a pre-owned pen, I don’t know what the Kanji symbolized to the original owner, but I decided to think of the pond as my poetry and this pen as a guardian, since I write out my poetry long hand first.

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri Kanji

The gold zogan inlay is a diamond shape, hand painted in 24k yellow gold. It adds an extra touch of zen-like beauty to the pen.

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri Zogan

This is my second Nakaya with an elastic nib. I reviewed my first here. An elastic nib is a soft nib that has been modified with cutouts.

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri Nib Cutouts

This makes the nib separate from the feed in such a way that it feels like you’re writing with a paintbrush. The elastic modification does not provide flex, so you won’t see much line variation with this nib. But, the elastic nib is my favorite nib to write with. It is bouncy, soft, and forces you to maintain a consistent, flowing rhythm as you write.

Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri Writing
The ink used here is    Kyo-no-oto Adzuki-iro

The ink used here is Kyo-no-oto Adzuki-iro

I realize that Nakaya pens aren’t for everyone. They are quite expensive, especially when you add features like Kanji, a zogan inlay, and a specialty nib. But, these pens speak to me like no others. The urushi warms to your hand and the smooth lines and earthy colors evoke peace.

(I purchased this Nakaya with my own funds.)


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Nakaya Long Cigar in Aka-Tamenuri Review
Posted on August 2, 2019 and filed under Nakaya, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Nakaya Portable Cigar Ishime-Kanshitsu Midori: A Review

Nakaya Portable Cigar Ishime-Kanshitsu Midori: A Review

One of the pens on my “holy grail” list was a Nakaya in the Ishime-Kanshitsu Midori finish. I finally purchased one in June 2018 from Nibs.com and chose the Nakaya Portable Cigar model. I can honestly say this is one of the most beautiful pens I own.

Pen Uncapped.jpg

Ishime-Kanshitsu is a special process that creates a stone-like texture on an ebonite pen. “Ishi” means “stone” in Japanese and “Kanshitsu” is the layering process. Creating an Ishime-Kanshitsu surface takes three months. Urushi powder is sprinkled on the body of the pen to create the texture. Charcoal is rubbed over the surface to sharpen the Urushi grains. Then, layers of lacquer are applied to harden the body. Finally, a silver lacquer is applied (Source: Nibs.com). The results are extraordinary--just look at the various colors and details in the picture below.

Surface.jpg

Obviously, this time-intensive process creates a writing instrument that is also a work of art. The Ishime-Kanshitsu texture feels wonderful on one’s fingers and it is extraordinarily beautiful in person.

Beauty.jpg

I chose the Nakaya Portable Cigar model because I didn’t have another Nakaya in this model and because the simple cigar shape shows off the textured surface well. This is a large pen (5.9 inches/150mm capped, which is just a tiny bit longer than a Montblanc 149, and 5.1 inches/130mm uncapped), but the ebonite and Urushi composition means that it weighs very little. This pen is not meant to be posted.

Pen Side.jpg

I chose a 14K medium-soft Nakaya nib and had it modified by John Mottishaw into an elastic nib. An elastic nib is different from a flex nib. It is a very soft nib with special cut outs that allow the nib to curve up from the feed like a paintbrush on paper (see the photos below).

Nib Cutouts.jpg
Cutouts Working.jpg

The tines don’t really separate much, but you can get a bit of line variation with this nib.

Tines.jpg

I enjoy writing with this nib more than any other nib I own. It is remarkably smooth, and writing each letter is like painting a tiny picture. Writing with an elastic nib is a soothing experience because you must write more slowly since you are essentially painting words. It’s unlike any other nib I’ve ever used, and it’s very zen-like.

Writing 1.jpg
Writing 2.jpg

That said, I initially had some difficulties with my nib. It seemed starved for ink. Writing (even with my preferred Iroshizuku inks) felt dry, and I encountered lots of hard starts and skipping. I sent the pen back to nibs.com and they worked some magic on the feed and the nib. When it came back, the nib wrote much better. It produces a lovely, wet line and it no longer skips. I do still experience some hard starts on down strokes, but overall the nib functions quite well.

Writing 3.jpg

One of the main weaknesses of any Nakaya pen is the converter (it is the same as the Platinum converter). I don’t know why Nakaya insists on this tiny converter that works properly only when it’s mostly full. Once you use half the ink, a huge bubble develops in the converter and you have to manually push the ink down to continue writing. They could, at least, insert a ball into the converter to prevent this from happening (in fact, I’m thinking about doing this myself using a ball from an unused cartridge I own). What would be better is if they would create a superior converter.

Converter.jpg

I’m quite happy with my Nakaya Ishime-Kanshitsu Midori pen. I love the texture, shape, balance, and nib on this pen. It is simply a joy to use. Of course, such beauty comes with a steep price. I paid $1,280 for this model with an elastic nib. As always, the question of whether or not a pen is “worth it” is dependent upon the person who uses the pen. I feel this pen is worth every penny because of its unparalleled beauty and because the elastic nib is so wonderful to write with (now that it’s been properly adjusted).

Here are a few more pictures of this beauty for you to enjoy. I must say, it is one of my most photogenic pens!

Nib Front Pose.jpg
Pen in Nature.jpg

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Bottom Image.jpg
Posted on January 4, 2019 and filed under Nakaya, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

The Nakaya Portable Cigar Spiketails (Dragonfly): A Grail Pen

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

My favorite creature on earth, next to kitties, is the dragonfly. Every summer I go on yard safaris, taking photographs of the insects that inhabit our yard. When I find a dragonfly, I feel like I have discovered gold. Nothing makes me happier than capturing dragonflies on camera.

Dragonflies are sky lions–carnivores who zip through the air like gravity doesn't matter. Not only are they incredibly beautiful, but they rid the air of pests.

I adore dragonflies, so when I saw that Classic Fountain Pens (nibs.com) had a Nakaya Portable Cigar Spiketails (Dragonfly) fountain pen in the preowned section, I went nuts. At $1,300 (used–yes, used), this was not a pen I could just buy outright. I knew I would have to part with some amazing pens in order to afford the Nakaya.

I chose to sacrifice two pens to buy my grail: an uninked Montblanc Oscar Wilde and an Omas Paragon Arco (old style). Parting with the Oscar Wilde wasn't too hard since I had never inked the pen and I hadn't bonded with it.

The Paragon was more difficult. It's such a unique and beautiful pen and I loved the nib. But, at the time, Omas hadn't gone out of business and I wasn't too attached to the Arco. Silly me.

So, I posted both pens on the classifieds at Fountain Pen Network and Fountain Pen Geeks and crossed my fingers. It took about a month to sell both pens (and I had to do several price reductions), but eventually I had enough money to buy the Dragonfly with a nib grind to boot.

What makes the Nakaya Spiketails so unique is that it is a hand-painted acrylic fountain pen. Unlike most Nakaya pens which are completely opaque, the Dragonfly is partially transparent with raised painted designs covered in semi-transparent red (Shu) Urushi lacquer.

The dragonfly wings and some of the swamp grasses are coated in gold dust and semi-transparent Urushi. In sunlight, the effect is absolutely magical.

The dragonfly design is genius, with the dragonfly's body curving gracefully along the pen and its wings encircling the cap.

The dragonfly is amazingly detailed.

The bottom of the pen portrays the swamp grasses that are the habitat of the dragonfly.

My pen came with a BB single-tone 14K nib. I had nibs.com grind the nib down to a medium italic. It writes beautifully, though I will say this isn't the smoothest nib I've received from them. I could send it back for more work, but I'm afraid this is one pen I just can't let out of my sight.

I realize some people don't understand grail pens, especially ones this expensive. "Why would you ever spend that much money on a pen?" I can't offer a reasonable explanation, because grail pens aren't reasonable. A grail pen is a pen you desire because it means something special to you. You can't justify this with logic. Ultimately, the reason one buys any grail pen is intensely personal. For me, a pen representing one of my favorite creatures on earth is meaningful to me. Also, this isn't just a pen I write with, it is a piece of exquisite art.

Posted on April 29, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pens, Nakaya, Pen Reviews.