Posts Tagged ‘Nakaya’

There were three contenders for my affection in Aesthetic Bay last Sunday, all by Nakaya: a kuro-tamenuri Decapod, a cherry blossom Sumi, and a Piccolo with clip in arai-shu. The Piccolo won. It is the longer Piccolo, commissioned by Aesthetic Bay from Nakaya, because several of their customers liked how the Piccolo looked but were uncomfortable writing with such a petite pen.

Nakaya Piccolo in Arai-shu

According to the Nakaya website, “arai” means washed, or faded. Arai-shu is faded red. I have to admit it was the color that won me over. I have yet to find an orange ink to match this delicious finish. In the meantime, I am using Private Reserve Orange Crush, which for some reason is not orange but a dirty yellow. (It is possible that this is ink gone bad.) I think Caran d’Ache Saffron would be better. This new Piccolo has an extra-fine nib. Beside my original Piccolo, it looks like a Tuba.

Nakaya Piccolos

Who knew there could be so much variation amongst fine nibs? Here are the three nibs on my Nakayas: regular extra-fine, elastic fine, elastic super extra-fine.

Nakaya nibs

On a side trip to Elephant & Coral, after a lively merienda with the gorgeous Itsy, I decided on a Namiki maki-e. One of the women from the Floating World found her way to this pen, and several cherry blossoms followed in her wake.


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Thanks to a friend who’s in Singapore for a conference, my pen will be on its way home in a couple of days. I sent it out for a nib exchange – from a standard fine to a super elastic extra-fine. I can’t wait!


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So this is what I was up to, really, in HK. I wanted to see a Nakaya table! Other people fly to Tokyo to see Madonna. This is not a strange thing.

I registered as a buyer and waited until the fair opened at 9:30. When I reached the Platinum Pen Co. table, I gawked at the Nakayas on display in one corner of the booth. A man approached me, most likely wondering why I had a silly smile on my face, and he turned out to be Mr. Toshiya Nakata, the president of Nakaya. (Insert fan girl squeal.)

He said, “A Nakaya owner!” I pulled out my Chinkoku and proceeded to tell him about my purchases at Aesthetic Bay, and how much I liked the Sumi technique (only one Nakaya craftsman can do this) and he brought out a long writer model that had the story of Rashomon executed in Sumi. The Ascending Dragon desk pen was also there, and a raised-technique dragon pen rendered in gold and red on black. The humidity in Okinawa means it takes four months for pens in that style to dry. Also on display were a golden maki-e squirrel on a blue body, two siblings of my Piccolo, a spider in gold and silver on a black body with a golden butterfly on the grip, and another spider pen in a multi-layered technique that even to the untrained eye looks like the highest level of craftsmanship.

I also held my first kanshitsu (stone finish) pen, rendered in silver over deep brown. It was a non-standard Piccolo, longer than mine.

Mr. Nakata refused to sell me anything! And I thought, how wonderful. Instead, he got my name and set aside the kanshitsu for me, noting down my nib preference. I brought out my Omas Arco with the modified nib and he compared it with my Nakaya elastic fine, as I was asking if it was possible to achieve the same kind of flexibility with Nakaya nibs. In the process we got inky fingers; I was profusely apologetic (I had forgotten to wipe down my pen after traveling with it loaded).

After one of the most interesting talks I’ve had in ages, I asked him if we could have our picture taken together. (More fangirl action.)

He was very obliging. I left the HK Convention and Exhibition Center with the widest of grins.

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Actually, it’s eleven, but one of my pens is back at the shop, waiting for a nib exchange.

I bought more than ten modern pens this year, many pre-owned, and while I liked them all well enough in the first place to buy them, inevitably favorites emerge.

The Pilot Bamboo didn’t make it to the list. Neither did the Pelikan Niagara Falls. I think they are both well-made and dependable to a fault. They’re just not sexy enough. The pen equivalent of family vans, perhaps. The Pilot Capless Orange LE (limited edition) didn’t make it into the list as well, edged out by a Stipula.

From left to right:
Stipula 22 in black with gold trim. I picked this up on eBay. There are many 22’s out there with unpleasant quirks. This one filled easily, wrote without hesitation, and the titanium nib felt responsive and semi-flexible. It is currently inked with Penman Ruby.
Sailor 1911 with Cross Music Emperor nib. This pen has a wicked nib, and I mean that in the most complimentary sense. It is the soul of a brush infused into metal. I admire the mind that invented this nib, and it reinforces my opinion that Japanese pen makers are the benchmark for writing performance.
Danitrio Frog Maki-e. This might be the only frog maki-e pen in the universe! The art of maki-e is highly exacting and it tends to be used to depict grand or iconic themes, like mountains and dragons and gods. I have a croaker. It is a breathtakingly beautiful croaker. The pen has a flexible extra-fine nib.
Omas Bologna Autunno. Bought from the Pentrace Green Board. I like celluloid, and this, I think, is a subtly rich rendition. The nib is a fine, and it is a wet, springy writer.
Stipula Etruria Volterra. I acquired this from Pengallery. It came in a huge Fedex box. The nib is a 1.1 mm italic. The celluloid is rust and orange and an occasional flicker of spring green. It is light in the hand, for all its substantial looks, and easy to grip.
Nakaya Shu Chinkoku. My first Nakaya, and not my last. (The pen that didn’t make it to this shot is the Nakaya aka-tame gin bokashi Ascending Dragon.) Fitted with a super elastic nib in fine, this pen never leaves my bag.
Tibaldi Iride. I love the power filler! It feels like I’m giving my upper arms a workout every time I fill this pen. The celluloid is a variation on the warm theme I gravitate towards, and the nib is a workhorse fine.
Laban Snake Pen. My other favorite material is ebonite, and this pen comes in blue, brown and green. I took the blue – the snake clip has blue eyes. The pen came in a humongous box, with a certificate and two other clips, which one of my art directors insisted would make cool rings. The nib is a boring medium, saved by a barely noticeable amount of flex.
Molteni Antonella. I have long been curious about Molteni, the “house brand” of eBay seller outletline. I took a chance on the Antonella in green ebonite and was very happy when it arrived. Bexley makes Molteni pens and the build quality is very good. I chose a fine nib.
Stipula Iris. Another celluloid, and I can’t help but notice there are three Stipulas on my list.

I am working on narrowing my collection in 2008, to focus on Italian celluloid, Japanese artistry and astonishing nibs. I will keep a couple of check writers and document signers, though. It’s good to be past the “buy it and see if I like it” phase.

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