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Japanese fountain pens

April 16, 2020 4 min read

Japanese fountain pens

The perfect balance between tradition and innovation

This is due to the great importance that calligraphy acquires in Japanese culture, considered on the one hand as an expression of personality and, on the other, as a practice elevated to the category of art. The richness and complexity of the Japanese alphabet requires accurate, smooth and high-quality writing instruments. These features made Japanese fountain pens unique pieces.

Main techniques of decoration

The important role of handicraft in Japan demonstrates the deep respect of this culture for tradition, which is key in their economy and customs. Even today, master craftsmen hand-make the decoration of each Japanese fountain pen using traditional methods such as Urushi lacquer, Raden or Maki-e techniques.


Raden is a Japanese decorative technique traditionally used in ceramic and wood decoration. This ancient art uses inlays of shell or ivory to decorate pieces that usually have a wood base, though bases other materials may be used as base. When this technique is applied, the most appreciated shells used include mother-of-pearl and abalones. In the process of creation of new fountain pens, the fine Raden strips are usually applied to a lacquered based and afterwards they are fixed with and extra layer to make an authentic piece of art.

Lacado Urushi

The term Urushi refers to all types of lacquerware that are handcrafted using the traditional Japanese technique of harvesting the sap of urushi trees. To do so, a couple of slashes are made into the tree to seep out the sap, which is then filtered several times through layers of special paper. The result of this long process is a translucent lacquer which colour ranges from very light to a dark amber. This technique is highly complicated and can only be harvested by skilled dedicated artisans.


The technique of Maki-e is one of the highest forms of art among the exquisite Japanese traditional art forms. Maki-e is a painting technique that uses powder and thin plates of gold, silver and shells that are applied to a lacquer base using a Kebo brush. As it requires highly skilled craftmanship to produce maki-e painting, young artists usually go through many years of training to develop the skills to ultimately become maki-e masters.

Japanese nibs: accuracy and variety

The Japanese nibs are highly accurate thanks to centuries of mastery in the art of swords, and their great variety comes from the brushes that were traditionally used. These brushes were easily adapted to the calligraphy of each one, it was enough to cut the bristles to modify the shape and thickness.

Replacing the brushes with the fountain pens promised a more practical future, but customization problems arose. For that reason, Japanese writing brands decided to enlarge the variety of nibs beyond the fine, medium and bold.

To sum up, a Japanese fountain pen is a piece of great beauty and reliability, which offers you a better performance than others of the same level with an exceptional price-quality ratio. Among the most famous manufacturers we find Nakaya and Japan's Big Three referred to as: Namiki, Platinum and Sailor.


Namiki Yukari Milkyway y Namiki Emperor Bermellón

Namiki Yukari Milkyway and Namiki Emperor Vermilion

Main collections: Emperor, Nippon Art, Yukari, Yukari Royale, Chinkin, Urushi, Limited Editions.

Pilot is the largest manufacturer of writing instruments in Japan. It produces instruments whose distinguishing features are innovation and functionality. Pilot was the brand that in 1962 developed the retractable system or "capless". However, the Namiki fountain pens stand up for its barrel, handcrafted decorated by traditional Japanese motifs. This implies that each fountain pen is unique and requires mastery and dedication. Among the Namiki writing instruments we can find true art works lacquered in urushi or elaborated using raden and maki-e techniques.


Sailor 1911 Large Gold Series, Sailor 1911 Standard Series Ivory y Sailor Professional Gear Slim Demonstrator

Sailor 1911 Large Gold Series, Sailor 1911 Standard Series Ivory y Sailor Professional Gear Slim Demonstrator

Main collections: King of Pens, Limited Editions, Maki-e,1911 y Professional Gear.

Sailor is a writing house known for its high quality and technical expertise, but above all for its nibs. Sailor pens feature an innovative design and high quality materials,gold 14K and 21K are often used in their creations. Among its wide variety of sizes and points, we find the nibs: Music or Zoom, that enable us more variations in stock thickness just changing the writing angle.

But doubtless, the nibs most recognized by handwriting lovers are the Sailor Special Nibs (or Sailor Specialty Nibs). Exclusive and difficult to obtain, Sailor’s special nibs are inspired by traditional brushes to offer a variety of strokes as wide as the skill and imagination of the user can create. You can read more about the Sailor nibs here.


Platinum Izumo Yakumo Byakudan Maki-e, Platinum Century Lilasy Platinum Modern Maki-e Phoenix

Platinum Izumo Yakumo Byakudan Maki-e, Platinum Century Lilasy Platinum Modern Maki-e Phoenix

Main collections: President, Izumo y Century

Platinum is the Japanese brand that offers quality and design at the most affordable price. Among its products we can find traditional maki-e fountain pens, as well as writing instruments made of innovative materials and avant-garde mechanisms like the retractable nib, take a look at the newest Platinum Curidas if you want to know more.

In addition, it is common to find Platinum pieces with Music nib, whose widest point nib allows variations in the stroke thickness and a higher ink flow. Traditionally, the Music point (as well as the Zoom) was used to write music and characters of the Kanji system. It is a must for every handwriting lover.



Nakaya Cigar Long Midori Ishime y Nakaya Cigar Piccolo

Nakaya Cigar Long Midori Ishime und Nakaya Cigar Piccolo

Main collections: Cigar y Writer, aunque también existen modelos especiales como Nakaya Desk.

After the creation of Platinum in 1911, the grandson of the founder of Platinum decided to create a new brand: Nakaya whose philosophy was worried about the creation of personalized pieces following a careful manufacturing process. Nakaya pieces are manufactured by master craftsmens with more than 40 years of Platinum experience and they can be made on request by the customer . In general, the body of these pieces is made of ebonite and is sometimes covered with natural lacquers from Japan. Its purpose? Make the fountain pen "made just for your hand”.

If you require more information or if you would like to place an order, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our store in Madrid, at Nuñez de Balboa 90.
We will be pleased to help you.

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