Less than a year ago, after buying several Pelikans and a few other brands of pens, I discovered Nakaya. I blame ethernautrix (who doesn’t?) Initially I bought a neo-standard in heki-tamenuri. But, believe it or not, I didn’t like the pen! I know! It’s blasphemy. But, it’s the truth. I didn’t like it. Besides, I had fallen in love with another Nakaya. Browsing the Nakaya availability chart, I found a pen I hadn’t seen when I first started researching Nakayas. At first sight, I knew I had to have this pen. I had found Enjoying the Moon Cat. Classic Pens decided to name the pen using Japanese syntax, a decision I deeply appreciate since I teach Hebrew. There’s something special about preserving the syntax of a foreign language idiom instead of conforming the language to suit English. Thus, instead of “The Cat Enjoying the Moon” the pen is called “Enjoying the Moon Cat.”
I returned the neo-standard and applied the credit to Moon Cat. My husband agreed to pay for half and I paid the other and Moon Cat would be my Christmas present. So, even though Moon Cat arrived in early October, I didn’t open the box. I put the pen of greatest desire in the closet, sight unseen, and waited until Christmas.
When Christmas morning 2012 arrived, I was as excited as the kids. I finally got to open Moon Cat, and she was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. I gingerly filled her with Diamine Dragon Red and started writing in my journal, “It’s Christmas morning and I am writing with Moon Cat!”
The next day, tragedy struck. Being a photographer, I wanted to take pictures of Moon Cat to post on Facebook and pen forums. I had taken several pictures in the dining room where the light was best. I was almost finished. I placed the pen on my grandmother’s china cabinet to take one final picture, and Moon Cat dropped onto the tile floor.
I knew immediately she was broken. In tears, I picked her up and examined her. The pen was intact, but a large chunk had broken from the cap. I was devastated. The pen still wrote, thankfully, but the beautiful aesthetic of the smooth Japanese pen was gone.
I contacted Classic Pens immediately, though I had no idea if they could help. Jonella (bless her to the moon and back) contacted Nakaya and sent them my pictures. They asked me to send the pen to them. I waited at least a month before I heard anything back. Nakaya contacted Classic Pens with two options. (1) I could purchase a new cap ($490) or (2) they could use a special string technique to repair the pen ($90). You can guess which option I chose. As it turns out, the accident turned Moon Cat into an even more beautiful pen, as the pictures below demonstrate.
A month and a half later, Moon Cat returned to me. And this is the pen I’m reviewing.
1. Appearance and Design. Enjoying the Moon Cat is an extraordinarily beautiful pen. The pen is ebonite with heki-tamenuri Urushi. But it has a special design. On the body of the pen is a black cat seated next to a mouse. These are created using the Yakoh-Maki-e raised technique, so you can actually feel the figures on the surface of the pen. The cat and mouse are looking up at a reddish-gold moon which is made using the Tame-sukashi technique. Over time, the moon will glow brighter and brighter.
Uncapped, the grip sports little Yakoh-Maki-e kitty paw prints, a feature that immediately endeared the pen to me. Who doesn’t love kitty paws?
In addition to these features, my Moon Cat has a special addition because of the broken cap. The Nakaya craftsmen used a special string technique to repair the cap. This addition, meant as a repair, actually made the pen even more beautiful and unique. I cannot express how impressed I am at the craftsmanship and creativity of Nakaya.
I consider this pen a 10 in appearance and design. It is simply stunning.
2. Construction and Quality. I think anyone who has held a Nakaya knows that these pens are well made. The ebonite is hand-turned and the Urushi technique takes months to complete. While the pen looks like it might be quite heavy, it is actually deceptively light. Writing with it creates no fatigue whatsoever.
For whatever reason, my Nakaya could not withstand a fall of about three feet. After the accident, I discussed this on forums with others who own Nakayas. Without exception, everyone else said that their Nakayas had withstood drops and accidents with hardly a scratch. I don’t know why my cap broke. It may simply have been due to how it hit the floor. But I have to knock off a couple of points for this. My pen may be the exception to the rule, but when you pay $1000 for a pen only to have it break from a three-foot fall, you have to be concerned. 8.
3. Weight and Dimensions. The Nakaya Piccolo is a small pen (only 5.12 inches long, capped). It isn’t meant to be posted, so it’s even shorter when you write with it. I have small hands, so the fact that this pen is small doesn’t bother me one bit. It fits perfectly in my hand and I love its beautiful proportions. As I said earlier, the pen is deceptively light (22 grams), so people who like large and heavy pens shouldn’t consider the Nakaya Piccolo. For me it is perfect. 10.
4. Nib and Performance. I originally ordered a 14K medium nib ground to a cursive italic. It wrote beautifully that Christmas Day. But after I broke it, and while I awaited Nakaya’s response, I purchased another Nakaya (a Naka-ai in heki-tamenuri) with a nib ground between a cursive italic and a stub along with some other modifications. So, when Moon Cat arrived back at Classic Pens, I asked Mr. Mottishaw to make her a CI/stub “tweenie.” She writes purrfectly, as my sample below demonstrates (though please don’t critique my handwriting; I’m trying; I’m trying). The nib is smooth and the flow is just right. 10.
5. Filling System and Maintenance. All Nakayas are cartridge/converter pens. I’ll admit this is my only real criticism of Nakayas. I much prefer piston fillers. The converters are well made, but they don’t hold much ink (0.9 ml). I’ve found that it’s easier to fill the converter directly rather than trying to suck ink up through the nib. I get a better fill that way. Of course, cleaning is a breeze since you can separate the converter from the nib and flush both. 9.
6. Cost and Value. Well, this is a tough one. I think everyone has different opinions on whether a pen is worth what it cost. For me, Enjoying the Moon Cat Piccolo was well worth $1000. This isn’t just a pen. It is a piece of art. And the art expresses something deeply significant to me: love of nature. I also love cats. But the beauty of the cat and mouse sitting beside one another (harmony) gazing at the moon (appreciation of nature’s beauty) simply speaks to my heart. When I brought Moon Cat to show her to my Honors students, they swooned when I told them what she cost. Does anyone use the word “swoon” anymore? Well, no matter. They swooned. And probably most people would. But Moon Cat is my most treasured pen. 10.
Final Rating: 57/60
In conclusion, I think it’s important to express how wonderful Classic Pens and Nakaya were in helping me when Moon Cat broke. Jonella grieved with me. The craftsmen at Nakaya provided options for me. The pen was treated with respect and care. I can’t speak highly enough about my experience.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Enjoying the Moon Cat, I recommend any Nakaya pen. They are all works of art and the nibs (especially when artfully worked by Mr. Mottishaw) are simply the best.