Nakaya Portable Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen Review

No typed review will ever do a Nakaya justice. Neither will pictures, or handwriting samples. I've sweated over this review because, while I have reviewed a Nakaya before, this was my first Nakaya purchase. My very own. And it was worth every penny.

Let's get the specs out of the way right up front. I made my purchase from, choosing the Portable (barrel style) Cigar (clipless) Ao-tamenuri (finish color) as seen here. The base price is $650, with a $50 add-on for a rhodium plated nib, and another $55 to have the fine nib ground into a cursive italic. So I am $755.00 into this pen. Whoa.

If you have heard me on the podcast talk about this pen, you will know that price wasn't my main consideration in making this purchase. Yes, it is the most I have ever spent on a pen, but I had been saving for months and months before pulling the trigger. I was more concerned about being comfortable using the pen outside the comforts of my desk at home where I am less likely to break or lose it. If I am paying this much for a pen I sure as heck want to use it.

The usage part was a mental hurdle I had to overcome. The more familiar I had become with fountain pens over the years, including both usage and maintenance, the more I felt comfortable with the idea of owning a Nakaya. I was convinced I was fine with tossing it in my pocket or bag (in it's kimono, of course) and hitting the road. I'm happy to say I've found that I am willing to take my Nakaya and use it anywhere and everywhere.

A perfect example is the Fodderstack Fall Festival we held at Nock last year. We planned on doing some pen testing and a pen swap, and I made sure to bring my Portable to the event. Why? Because I love this pen so much I want to share it and let others be able to try something out they wouldn't normally be able to. It was a hit for sure, but even as I was passing it around there were people that were scared to take it from me! I'm persuasive though, and I enjoyed being able to get this pen in as many hands as possible.

I tell this story because there is an aura around Nakaya pens that they are museum pieces made to be coddled. There's nothing wrong with that, and yes, if for some reason I ever have one of the several thousand dollar models in my possession I may feel the same way. But this pen, as with any pen, is made to be used. It's a refrain you've heard a thousand times, but it's the truth.

And I use the heck out of this pen. It's probably my most used pen since I purchased it last spring (I should probably track these things), keeping it inked at all times aside from a day or two of downtime between cleanings.

The Portable barrel size fits my hand perfectly. When I first got it, it felt shockingly light, and at 22.2 grams it is, but after constant use it feels normal if that makes sense. I don't notice the weight at all. That is a big feature because my hand never gets tired when writing. My grip pressure remains light, and my strokes flow like a brush.

As I talked about in the written review below, Nakaya nibs are unlike any other nib I have used. They are smooth, with a hint of feedback. It's almost a hum-like feeling when you are writing. You hear it more than you feel it. If you have ever used a Platinum nib they are somewhat similar, which is expected as the companies are related. The cursive italic grind I had put on it is very fine with just a hint of line variation, which is perfect for my standard writing style.

I feel like I could go on and on about this pen, but at the same time I feel like I haven't said anything in this review. Nakaya's aren't about numbers or specs. Nakaya's are about feel, and about storytelling. They are different in a way that words cannot do justice. I hope I did my Nakaya Portable justice in this post, and I hope everyone can at least take one for a test drive someday. If you ever meet me in person I'll be happy to let you take mine for a spin.

Posted on February 6, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Nakaya, Pen Reviews.