Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peco & Paco


This past Sunday (May 23rd), the monthly Pen Clinic organized by the Wagner association took place in Tokyo, at the same location as the Wagner 2010 Pen Show already reported on these chronicles.

These monthly events have the main purpose of fixing and tuning the pens of those attending it. About six pen gurus were ready to listen to our concerns about our beloved pens and work quickly and efficiently on them. The charismatic leader of Wagner, Mr. Mori, doubles as a pen doctor on duty. Two others are Peco –we met her at the Pen Show—, and Paco. Both are masters in the art of smoothing and tuning the nibs.


...and Paco.

Other than that, the clinic works as a social gathering to exchange information and to test each other’s pens. Magnificent pens were scattered on the tables. Kimi Tarusawa showed a very rare Pelikan M800 with brown tortoise shell. According to some sources, Pelikan archivist Jürgen Dittmer among them, it was commissioned in 1987 by some Spanish vendors.

Peco-san is the proud owner of a trio of exquisite Soennecken Lady 111 in mint condition. A real pleasure to write with them!

Mr. Capless also joined us. He has the complete collection of Pilot/Namiki Capless (Vanishing Point the US market). To this event, he brought only a small sample of his collection to show the differences between Namiki Vanishing Point and Pilot Capless.

The box also included his recently purchased Lamy Dialog 3, and the pair composed by the Pilot Capless in regular black finish and its apparent twin --the black urushi Capless Pilot released on the occasion of the Maki-e Fair in Itoya.

How to make a flexible Sailor nib. Final tuning by Paco-san.

Other variations on the form of being obsessed.

Excellent pens and excellent people with great knowledge on their object of their obsessions.

(Morison Pocket Pen 14 K – Pelikan Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, 25 May 2010)
[labels: Evento, Pelikan, Japón, Tokyo, Soennecken, Pilot, Lamy]

Monday, May 24, 2010


Itoya’s Maki-e Fair 2010

(This event was celebrated in a shop, and unfortunately the management did not authorized pictures. However, this being Japan, too often these decisions are enforced or not depending on the staff in charge. Fellow Fountain Pen Network subscriber Moskva ( was allowed to take some pictures and I thank him for his permission to include them in this post. They are also published in this entry of the above-linked blog:

These days –from May 12 to 24— stationery Itoya in Ginza (shop no. 15 in this link) in Tokyo organized what they called a Maki-e Fair. Five were the exhibitors invited to it: The three leading Japanese companies –Pilot-Namiki, Platinum-Nakaya, and Sailor—, the California-based Danitrio, and a fifth one dealing with Aurora, Caran d’Ache, Parker, Pelikan, and Waterman. All those brands showed their creations in maki-e and urushi (lacquer).

Pilot introduced a 10-unit limited edition of a black urushi finished exclusively for the Fair for JPY 52500. It only came with M nib. The whole line of maki-e by Pilot and all the Namiki branded pens were on display.

The lower pen is urushi finished; the upper one, the regular black pen with golden accents. The difference, JPN 36750, and the nibs are exactly the same. Picture taken at the May meeting of the Wagner association (May 23, 2010).

Some pens by Nakaya together with matching business card holders. Picture courtesy of Moskva.

Platinum presented their first maki-e pen after a long time (I cannot find how long…), but their main selling point were those marketed under the Nakaya brand. However, the Nakaya craftsmen only attended the event on the last four days.

Two more Nakaya pens. Picture courtesy of Moskva.

Danitrio made the big news being invited to attend the fair by Itoya. And from now on, this shop will carry their line of products. Urushi and maki-e –with examples of good and unbelievable bad taste— were present on display. All the art on these pens is made in Japan; all the nibs –with one Japanese exception— are made in Germany by Peter Bock. They also displayed their 24 K gold nib.

Danitrio urushi pens. Picture courtesy of Moskva.

Sailor showed their urushi King of Pen line.

Sailor's King of Pens in urushi finish. Picture courtesy of Moskva.

Finally, the Western companies showed their very limited set of products. Among them, two M1000-based Pelikan limited editions –Maiko in Kyoto and Fireworks—, and the Sérenité based Waterman models were the more interesting products.

There was also a maki-e workshop for those interested in learning the basics of the technique. It costed JPY 2100 and was quickly sold out.

Certainly, I am not enticed by these pens, Actually, I wonder if they really were pens ready to write. For sure, some of them were, as I had the chance to test some of the pieces. However, the writing experience was not in accordance with the price tag. And
that is what finally counts.

(Pilot Telescopic – Waterman Florida Blue)

Bruno Taut

(Shibuya, May 22, 2010
[labels: Tokyo, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Danitrio, evento, FPN]

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Para Merino-san, físico silente.

Una pluma es un artefacto para controlar a nuestra conveniencia la dinámica de fluidos. De ese control se deriva el dosificado constante de la tinta –el fluido en cuestión— que nos permite escribir.

Y todo lo demás es accesorio. Bello en muchos casos, pero accesorio.

Es decir, que lo fundamental en una pluma es el sistema compuesto por el plumín, el alimentador y el depósito de tinta. Y después podemos discutir sobre sistemas de llenado, sobre materiales del cuerpo de la pluma o sobre el sexo de los ángeles. Por supuesto, que la pluma debería ser cómoda y equilibrada para que su uso sea agradable y relajado. Pero estos puntos poco tienen que ver con el aspecto externo de la misma.

Sin embargo, las plumas han pasado de ser un instrumento básicamente práctico a ser un objeto de coleccionismo. Y como tal, sus propiedades escritoras pueden pasar a un segundo plano. Entonces, los materiales empleados o la ornamentación de la pluma pueden adquirir la importancia antes reservada al plumín y, en menor medida, al alimentador.

Así surgen marcas y modelos cuyos argumentos de venta nada tienen que ver con su función última. Plumas que, en definitiva, no se venden para escribir con ellas sino para exhibir.

Sólo así se entienden esos objetos de decenas de miles de euros o dólares, de millones de yen, con plumines de oro de 24 quilates –sí, de un oro del 100% de pureza— que difícilmente verán la tinta y el papel. Porque un plumín de 24 quilates es muy blando y se deforma muy fácilmente. Porque salvo resistencia a la corrosión –y con 14 quilates ya es muy alta— nada se gana con tener más oro. Tan sólo aumenta el orgullo del propietario al presumir de un objeto
de dudosa utilidad práctica con un accesorio, que antes llamábamos plumín, hecho de oro puro.

Otro tanto se puede decir de la lujuriosa decoración de capuchones y cuerpos. De esos elaborados motivos en maki-e u otras técnicas igualmente ancestrales. Y no es casualidad que esos plumines ya inútiles, esos accesorios, estén combinados con estos ornatos.

Al final la pluma se convierte en un objeto decorativo, en una obra de arte tal vez. Pero en un objeto tan alejado de su función inicial que debiera cambiar de nombre. Eso ya no es una pluma, es otra cosa.

Y en otra entrada hablaré de lo que vi en la Feria de Maki-e de Itoya en Tokyo.

(Sailor Profit 21 Junior – Sailor Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Yokohama, 20 de mayo de 2010)
[labels: estilofilia, evento]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


(Commentator Anele was right, by whatever means, in discovering the non-pocket pen among those displayed on my previous post. Finally I got some pictures and here you have a review and some comments on that pen. I also wanted to thank my fellow blogger Leigh Reyes for her permission to reproduce the scan of the 1968 calendar advertising the pen).

According to A. Lambrou, or to whoever wrote the chapter on Japan, in his book Fountain Pens of the World (London, 1995), in 1968 Pilot was in a difficult economic situation. The company’s reaction was to launch the very successful Elite series and, as a result, Pilot became the leading fountain pen company in Japan.

However true this might be, year 1968 also saw –as I mentioned on my May 17th post— the birth of pocket pen concept: a short pen that becomes regular sized when posted. Aiming at the student market —again citing Lambrou— a cheaper Elite version, named S-Karakara, and the Telescopic Pen were released.

This Telescopic Pen could be seen as an alternative to pocket pens: short when capped, long when needed. But the means to become full size are totally different. The Telescopic Pen has a barrel that, by pulling by its ends, or simply by uncapping it, becomes about sixteen millimeters longer: from 114 mm to 120 mm long, unposted.

This pen came with 14 K gold and steel nibs, the metallic parts could also be golden or steel in color, and the section and the barrel could also have several colors. The following picture is taken from a 1968 calendar and displays this pen under the name of "Short":

(Courtesy of Leigh Reyes)
The one I am using now has a fairly wet 14 K medium nib. Very smooth. But dries fast and occasionally it does not start promptly after some seconds of hesitation in my writing. Nice pen to write with, although it certainly lacks character.

As it is often the case on pens from the 50s and 60s in Japan, mine is engraved with the name of one of his owners. I like this detail as it shows this pen had some life and saw some action.

I have not seen many of these pens on the second hand market in Tokyo. When I bought it, though, there was another unit with steel nib and non textured steel finish for the same price. Only later I saw a small defect on the clip.

At the end, the pocket pen won the battle to the origami pen.

(Pilot Telescopic – Waterman Florida Blue)

Bruno Taut
(Shinjuku, May 19, 2010)
[labels: Japón, Pilot]

Monday, May 17, 2010


Pocket pens are a genuine Japanese invention. These are pens with very long sections and caps, and very short barrels. The cap, however, fits tightly on the barrel when posted making a full size pen to write. Indeed, these pens need to be posted to use them comfortably. Pilot was the company that launched this idea in 1968, and the rest of Japanese companies followed suit soon afterwards. (Vid post scriptum. This is not correctthe first pocket pen was released by Platinum in 1964).

Some Pilot, Platinum, Sailor and Morison pocket pens.

One of the most successful models was, needless to say, the Pilot Myu 701, to the point to become a cult pen about thirty-something years after it was released. Pilot Company itself contributed to this situation by taking it as the inspiration for the M90 model designed and marketed to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the firm.

All look alike: Pilot, Platinum and Sailor. Just a coincidence?

These pens came in a number of styles and materials, making them expensive or cheap. There was no status associated to the fact of using a small pen, and you could indeed find beautiful nibs in 21 or 18 K gold as well as small steel nibs. At the same time, the trends were often copied by the rest of Japanese manufacturers, always having a close eye on their direct competitors.

The nibs of the six pens shown in the previous pic.

These pens are truly interesting to follow, and –more often than not—
inexpensive to buy. Unfortunately, they seem confined to the Japanese market.

(Platinum WG full size – Platinum black cartridge)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, May 15, 2010)
[labels: Japón, Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Morison]

(Note: Among the pens shown on the pictures there is one that is not properly a pocket pen. Can anyone out there point it out? I will speak about it as soon as I take some decent pictures of it.)

PS (July 17, 2011): Actually, the first pocket pen was marketed by Platinum in 1964. I corrected this mistake on the July 18, 2011 chronicle entitled "The Platinum Logo".

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


To Suomi-san, ink addict.

This I saw some weeks ago:

Japanese fountain pen company Sailor has changed its line of inks as part of their more aggressive marketing strategy. And to show them, an ink mixologist, armed with all the paraphernalia of a barman, tunes the ink color to your taste.

The Sailor webpage, event section, details the schedules:

And regarding events. from May 12th to 24th stationery Itoya (links to the map and to my post on pen shops in Tokyo) holds a maki-e show with a number of makers –most likely Japanese— showing their products. I am planning to go to have a look. Anyone coming?

(Platinum WG full size – Platinum black, cartridge)

Bruno Taut
(Machida, May 10, 2010)
[labels: tinta, Tokyo, Japón, evento, Sailor]

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The writing tradition in East Asia does not rely on the stylus —on the pen— but on the brush. This is most evident in the art form of calligraphy in China, Korea and Japan. This calligraphy, so different from the Western penmanship, acquires a quasi-religious meaning in Japan in the form of shodō —書道.

The name of this discipline involves the term –道: path, way; showing the constant struggle for perfection. Budō (武道), bushidō, (武士道), kadō (華道), sadō (茶道) … All of them imply that journey in search of excellence. Much in the mystic mode of Teresa of Ávila and her The Way of Perfection (Camino de perfección).

Religious superstitions aside, what we finally get is a form of art with a brush. And it is easy to get some samples of it in Japan. In most temples —Buddhist— and shrines —Shinto— you can find a monk in charge of these stamps to certify the passing through that station in the pilgrimage route.

These certificates are called goshuin –御朱印. Usually, they are a combination of a stamp and some writing. Sometimes they are great, impressive, amazing. The monk mastered his art and showed it. Some other times, the writing is plain and boring —anyone could write those. But such is life.

Buy the goshuin notebook (goshuin-chô, 御主印帳) in any stationery shop —check my May 2, 2010 entry— or at the temple itself, and ask for the stamp. Boring or exciting, the final collection will speak of your own .

(Sailor WG Pocket Pen – Pelikan Brilliant Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Fuchu, April 7th 2010)
[labels: Japón, pincel]

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Para Kinno-san.

Las plumas estilográficas se hicieron para escribir. Ahora bien, ¿cuánto en verdad escribimos con ellas?

Mucho me temo que muy poco. Por un lado, porque cada vez escribimos menos a mano, y el mejor instrumento de escritura posiblemente sea un teclado de ordenador. Por otro, muchos coleccionistas tienen las plumas de adorno. Algunos ni siquiera las entintan por miedo a que pierdan valor.

Luego está el uso que le damos a cada pluma. Al fin y al cabo solo escribimos con una al tiempo. Así que la pregunta de para qué necesitamos tantas es muy legítima. Pero los coleccionistas preferimos ignorar esa cuestión y nos lanzamos a acaparar estilográficas con mejor o peor criterio.

Y sin embargo, algunos de nosotros queremos usar todas las plumas que poseemos e intentamos una rotación de modo que sigan un turno más o menos riguroso. Pero ese turno en seguida resulta insuficiente para usar todas las plumas en un plazo razonable. Si una carga de tinta dura una semana, en un año podremos emplear unas cincuenta plumas. Así, alguien que tenga diez plumas, una cantidad más bien modesta, usaría cada una de ellas un promedio de cinco semanas al año. Y en realidad, hay muchas plumas que apenas prueban la tinta o que difícilmente llegan a tocar el papel. El ritmo de compra puede ser tal que la lista de espera para ser entintadas puede ser desesperantemente larga.

En mi caso, a día de hoy, confieso que esa lista es de unas quince plumas, y no es raro que perdamos el rastro de alguna de esas que tanta ilusión nos hizo cuando la vimos por primera vez.

Sí, la conclusión es que compramos a un ritmo más alto del que escribimos, Y ésa es la prueba más palpable de lo absurdo de esta afición.

Somos como los indios: tenemos las plumas, básicamente, de adorno.

(Waterman Laureat – Pilot Black)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, 29 de abril de 2010)
[labels: estilofilia]

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tokyo - April 2010

An updated version of this post can be found on this page in this blog. This text, however, will remain here as a landing mark for those coming from non updated websites. Updated version.

(Second edition of this post)

Over the years I have learned about where to find and buy fountain pens in this city. The summary of my findings is this report. But by no means is this list complete. I wanted to note, though, that the very traditional pen shop Juzensha, near Omori Station, is no longer in business.

Second hand shops:

1. Lemon

Photography and other “otaku” goods with a small section of pens. It offers discount prices for new goods.

Ginza Kyokaido Building 8F
4-2-1 Ginza (Sotobori Dori)
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone: 03-3567-3131
See map.

Mo-Sa: 11:00-20:00
Su: 11:00-17:00

2. Eurobox

Vintage pen shop in Tokyo.

Okuno Building 4F
1-9-8 407 Ginza
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Tel: 03-3538-8388
Fax: 03-3538-6313
See map.

Th: 11:30-19:00
Sa: 11:30-18:00
(Usual opening days. Check website).

3. Pen Cluster

Small shop dedicated, mostly, to foreign pens. Repair service available.

Wind Ginza 2 Building 3F
1-20-3 Ginza
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone: 03-3564-6331
See map.

Tu-Fr: 12:30-19:00
Sa-Su: 12:30-18:00

4. Map Camera-Kingdom Note (New pens at catalog prices, and used pens)

1-12-5 Nishi Shinjuku, 6F
Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023
Phone: 03-3342-7911
See map.

Mo-Su: 10:30-20:30

Discount shops:

5. Sekaido

Big art supply shop with a decent department of fountain pens and fine writing utensils. The good point of this shop is the discount, up to 25%, they offer with the membership card. It costs Y500 for two years. This shop has several branches, not all carrying fountain pens. The main store is in Shinjuku (5A), and in the West side of the station there is a branch (5B):

5A. Sekaido Head Office.
3-1-1 Shinjuku
Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-002
Phone: 03-5379-1111
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:30-21:00

5B. Sekaido Nishi Shinjuku
1-11-11 Nishi Shinjuku
Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023
Phone: 03-3346-1515
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:30-20:00

6. Yodobashi Camera

Several branches. For fountain pens, check big stores:

6A. Yodobashi Shinjuku Nishiguchi Honten (West side)
1-11-1 Nishi-Shinjuku
Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023
Phone: 03-3346-1010
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:30-22:00

6B. Yodobashi Akiba (Akihabara)
1-1 Kanda Hanaoka
Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-0028
Phone: 03-5209-1010
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:30-22:00

6C. Yodobashi Ueno
4-10-10 Ueno
Taito, Tokyo 110-005
Phone: 03-3837-1010
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:30-22:00

6D. Yodobashi Yokohama
1-2-7 Kita Saiwai
Yokohama, Kanagawa 220-0004
Phone: 045-313-1010
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:30-22:00

7. Mori-ichi

This stationery shop has some pens at discount prices—about 30%. The selection has decreased in the last two years. It is located on Chuo Dori, almost in front of the Pilot Pen Station, further north towards Nihonbashi.

1-3-2 Kyobashi
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0031
Phone: 03-3281 3228
See map.

Mo-Fr: 9:00-18:00

Shops in Ameyoko (Ueno-Okachimachi):
Under the tracks of Yamanote line between Okachimachi and Ueno stations there is this big market where you can find almost all kinds of goods. Among them, five shops where you can find pens with discounts between 30% and 40%. They are focused on imported pens, but in some of the shops (Ameyoko Mito and Tachibana, at least) you can also find Japanese brands.

See map for the location of Ameyoko Market.

8. Ameyoko Mito

6-10-7 Ueno
Taito, Tokyo 110-0005
Phone: 03-3833-5280
See map for the location of Ameyoko Market.
Location of Ameyoko Mito.

Mo-Su: 10:00-18:30

9. Asahi Shokai

6-4-12 Ueno
Taito, Tokyo 110-0005
Phone: 03-3834-4771, 03-3834-4772
See map for the location of Ameyoko Market.
See map under the tracks.

10. Daiya Sutoa

6-4-12 Ueno
Taito, Tokyo 110-0005
Phone: 03-3831-8092
See map for the location of Ameyoko Market.
See map under the tracks.

11. Tachibana Shokai

6-4-6 Ueno
Taito, Tokyo 110-0005
Phone: 03-3831-4800
See map for the location of Ameyoko Market.
See map under the tracks.

Mo-Su: 11:00-18:00

12. Marui

6-4-4 Ueno
Taito, Tokyo 110-0005
Phone: 03-3831-7145
See map for the location of Ameyoko Market.
See map under the tracks.

Location of four of the five pen shops in Ameyoko Market.

Regular price shops:

Many shops, including most department stores carry fountain pens. Most of them at regular catalog prices. Eventually, it might be possible to find some “New Old Stock” (NOS) pens on them. Following there is a selection of some of these shops.

13. Maruzen

Maruzen is a bookshop with a large stationery section. It has a number of branches, most of which carry fountain pens at regular catalog prices. Among those, the head office in Nihonbashi, and that in Oazo Building in Marunouchi are the most interesting.
Maruzen carries its own brand of ink (Athena), and of pens (Century), and there are some special editions of pens by major companies for this shop alone.

13A. Maruzen Nihonbashi
3-10-2 Nihonbashi
Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3272 7211
See map.

13B. Maruzen Oazo
1-6-4 Marunouchi
Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0005
Phone: 03-5288-8881
See map.

Mo-Su: 9:00-21:00

14. Kyukyodo

Very traditional, and very old (founded in 1663), Japanese stationery. The main branch is located right on Ginza crossing. It has a small selection of Japanese and foreign pens.

5-7-4 Ginza
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone: 03-3571 4429
See map.

Mo-Sa: 10:00-19:30
Su: 11:00-19:30

Location of pen shops in Ginza: Lemon, Kyukyodo, Itoya, Eurobox, and Pen Cluster.

15. Itoya

Itoya is a large stationery and art supply shop. There are some pens made exclusively for Itoya.

2-7-5 Ginza
Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
Phone: 03-3561 8311
See map.

Mo-Sa: 10:30-20:00
Su: 10:30-19:00

This main branch has a pen repair service.

16. Pilot Pen Station

This is a museum and a café owned by the pen company Pilot. There are no sales in here, but they provide a repair service for their own brand.

2-6-21 Kyobashi
Chuo, Tokyo 104-8304
Phone: 03-3538 3700
See map.

Mo-Fr: 8:00 - 19:00 (museum: 9:30-17:00)
Sa: 11:00-17:00

17. Shosaikan

Probably, the most beautiful pen shop in the world. And that makes a real experience to visit and, eventually, to buy a pen at this shop.

5-13-11 Minami Aoyama
Minato, Tokyo 107-0062
Phone: 03-3400 3377
See map.

Mo-Su: 11:00-20:00

Shosaikan also has two branches in Haneda Airport, on terminals 1 and 2.

18. Fullhalter

This is a very small shop run by a nib master who prepares some commercial pens –smoothing the nibs, altering them in some special way, etc. The selling price is the same as in other shops.
Higashi Oi is near Oimachi station along the JR Keihin-Tohoku line.

5-26-20 Higashi Oi
Shinagawa, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3471-7378
See map.

Mo-Sa: 10:00-18:00

19. Kinpendo

Traditional pen shop located in bookshop-rich Kanda district. Mostly imported pens at regular catalog prices. The owner seems to tune the nibs of the expensive pens.

1-4 Jinbocho
Chiyoda, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3293-8186
See map.

Flea markets

Flea markets are a usual place to find hidden treasures. I will speak about them in a different blog entry.

This is it by now. Hope you can take advantage of this list.

View Fountain Pens in Tokyo in a larger map

(Pilot R lever filler – Pelikan Royal Blue)

Bruno Taut
(Inagi, April-May 2010)
[labels: Tokyo]
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