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Nakaya Piccolo Aka-Tamenuri


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18 replies to this topic

#1 Painterspal

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 19:39

I know, I can hear you all saying it... "Do we really need another review of the Nakaya Piccolo?" I guess the answer is no, there are already some great reviews out there. But are we going to get another one anyway? Yep, you bet!

I bought my Piccolo in February and it was my first foray into Japanese pens in general and urushi-finished pens in particular. Iíd read a lot of reviews of pens made by Nakaya and Danitrio and was intrigued by the overwhelmingly positive comments made by the reviewers. Two aspects particularly interested me: whether they lived up to their reputation on an aesthetic level, and whether they deliver as functional writing tools.

Leaving aside aesthetics for a moment, Iíve come to realise that the issue of whether a pen meets my requirements as a writing tool is more complicated than Iíd ever thought. When I started to pay serious attention to fountain pens, having been a casual user for many years, I started with the idea that I would try a few out and find the ďperfect pen for meĒ. Little did I guess what an interesting journey this would turn into, and how subtle and complicated would be the interaction between the key components of a fountain pen: the nib and feed design; the ink supply; and the materials, aesthetics and ergonomics of the supporting container Ė the section, barrel and cap. Iím sure Iíll set a lot of experienced heads nodding sagely when I say that Iím no nearer finding my perfect pen. Indeed, the whole idea of a Ďperfectí pen now seems slightly absurd. But, at any rate, Iíve had a lot of fun so far, and Iím sure thereís plenty more to come as long as my bank balance holds up!

Coming back to the Nakaya Piccolo (with apologies for the philosophical detour) its attractions were, for me, two-fold: itís probably the cheapest way to try a hand-made urushi pen and I liked the look of its shape and size. Up to that point, my biggest pen had probably been my Pelikan 625, so this seemed like a pen of a similar general size and this proved to be the case. Uncapped, the chunky little Piccolo might be a bit too small for those with large hands, but for me, itís very comfortable to hold. I find it easy to grip and the weight is about right too, neither too light nor noticeably heavy.

Mine is a medium point and find it similar to a western fine. I might enjoy it even more were it a tad broader, so Iíd be tempted to buy a broad next time and have it reground as a stub. Itís totally beyond reproach in terms of ink delivery. It started first time, never skips and writes just on the wet side of neutral. It doesnít matter how fast I write, the Piccolo always keeps up Ė very impressive. The nib is the standard Nakaya medium. Itís pretty firm and produces a very consistent line with no noticeable variation. My example isnít toothy, but it isnít butter smooth either. Actually, I rather like the feedback it provides and find it to be an effective writer, but not one that gives me a lot of pleasure to use. The end result on the page looks just a little boring to my eyes, but when Iím interviewing someone or taking notes at a meeting, this pen is the perfect choice Ė I can write quickly and everything is crisp and clear. The Piccolo has a C/C converter and ink capacity is fairly small. However, because of the fine nib, I find it lasts quite a while and itís simple and convenient to fill.

From an aesthetic perspective, the pen is a runaway hit with me. It might just be a temporary phase but recently Iíve become rather turned off by unnecessary Ďblingí on fountain pens. I don't mean decoration in general, rather the kind of decoration that is just designed to make the pen look expensive or give an impression of wealth and power. It seems to me that pens such as this Nakaya belong to an aesthetic tradition with different values, one more concerned with traditional craftsmanship and a celebration of the natural world. This is apparent in their use of natural materials such as ebonite, the urushi lacquer, the delightful pen kimono and simple wooden box they come in.

Fit and finish on the Piccolo are excellent, but the urushi instantly reminds you that this pen has been made by a person, with care, and with concern for their craft. Thatís something I really like and makes the pen extra special for me. The design is nicely understated and doesnít draw attention to itself. Thereís no unnecessary ornamentation but the overall effect, particularly when closed is very harmonious and well-balanced. My only regret is that I bought mine with a clip, though it does have the practical advantage of helping to prevent it rolling off my desk! The urushi is very well applied and finished, with just a hint of variation that shows it was done by hand. Iíve read lots of comments about how the appearance of these pens changes as they age, but until now Iíd been rather sceptical. I canít really describe how mine had altered, but Iím conscious of a subtle change, a deepening or greater richness to the colour perhaps, that has certainly occurred since I received it. Urushi appears a durable finish. My Piccolo has been in almost daily use and still looks exactly as it did when I first unwrapped it.

Iím not into giving numerical scores, but I hope itís clear that my feelings for this little pen are very positive. The Piccolo may not be my favourite fountain pen, but it definitely has a long-term place in my pen case and it wonít be my last urushi pen. Iím a nature photographer and I like things that remind me of the natural world - and that's partly the reason why I like the Piccolo so much and wanted to review it. The pen's craft-based aesthetic and use of natural materials is part of its appeal for me, but so (weirdly) is its shape. This will probably sound really left field but uncapped, the Piccolo reminds me of one of my favourite insects Ė the broad-bodied chaser dragonfly. I've attached a picture - take a look and see if you agree with me!

Attached Images

  • Nakaya_Piccolo_MPF2679.jpg
  • Nakaya_Piccolo_MPF2681.jpg
  • Nakaya_Piccolo_MPF2691.jpg
  • broad_bodied_Chaser_female_MPF4384.jpg

Edited by Painterspal, 03 June 2009 - 19:42.

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#2 Saturninus

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 19:50

Wonderful review. I feel like I have to buy one before they run out or something because I've been wanting one for some time and it seems like everyone else does too!

Two questions:

Were any dragonflies harmed in the making of this review?

Do you post your Piccolo? I'm trying to figure out whether or not to get a long-sized that I would use unposted, or a Piccolo that I would use posted. You seemed too imply that your hands are not overly large. Mine are not either, but nor are the dainty...

#3 FrankB

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 20:01

Each review has its own character with insights and impressions. Thank you for yours.

I am also very attracted to the simple, Zen-like qualities of many Japanese pens. Those designs combined with good ergonomics make for a writing tool that has charm and untility, a wonderful set of chacteristics.

I think I understand what you mean when you say that there is complexity in how one relates to a pen. I don't know about you, but when I sat down for the first time to fill out the worksheet for a custom pen, I became aware of the of the many complex elements that go into my interaction with a pen. I had been using FP's for over 30 years when I did that worksheet. I had thought about each of the elements of design and how I held a pen, but I had never pulled them all together. It was an epiphany of some magnitude.

Might I suggest that you try a Japanese B nib out of the box before you consider having it reground to a stub? I am quite happy with Japanese B nibs. I like their smooth feel on paper, and the way I can control the pen to enhance my penmanship. The M/B (or is it B/M?) line they put onto paper is aesthetically pleasing. I have yet to find a Japanese B nib that gives a lot of line variation, but what they do produce is a joy. Try it, you might like it. thumbup.gif

#4 jandrese

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 03:11

Nice review and pen. The dragonfly was actually an important symbol for the samuari. I might also add that the pen bag is a small version of the bags that are used to transport and protect a Nihonto, or Japanese sword, usually a katana. Quality bags are made from lined silk kimono style fabric.

#5 bdngrd

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 03:15

Wow, thank you for your thoughts and photos. I appreciate the time you put in to this.
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#6 darkgreen

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 05:11

QUOTE (Painterspal @ Jun 4 2009, 07:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Leaving aside aesthetics for a moment, Iíve come to realise that the issue of whether a pen meets my requirements as a writing tool is more complicated than Iíd ever thought. When I started to pay serious attention to fountain pens, having been a casual user for many years, I started with the idea that I would try a few out and find the ďperfect pen for meĒ. Little did I guess what an interesting journey this would turn into, and how subtle and complicated would be the interaction between the key components of a fountain pen: the nib and feed design; the ink supply; and the materials, aesthetics and ergonomics of the supporting container Ė the section, barrel and cap. Iím sure Iíll set a lot of experienced heads nodding sagely when I say that Iím no nearer finding my perfect pen. Indeed, the whole idea of a Ďperfectí pen now seems slightly absurd. But, at any rate, Iíve had a lot of fun so far, and Iím sure thereís plenty more to come as long as my bank balance holds up!

It seems to me that pens such as this Nakaya belong to an aesthetic tradition with different values, one more concerned with traditional craftsmanship and a celebration of the natural world. This is apparent in their use of natural materials such as ebonite, the urushi lacquer, the delightful pen kimono and simple wooden box they come in.

Fit and finish on the Piccolo are excellent, but the urushi instantly reminds you that this pen has been made by a person, with care, and with concern for their craft. Thatís something I really like and makes the pen extra special for me.


Amen to all that!

Yes, the Zen of fountain pen writing.

Thanks for a great review and superb photos.
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#7 greencobra

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 12:31

QUOTE (Painterspal @ Jun 3 2009, 03:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I know, I can hear you all saying it... "Do we really need another review of the Nakaya Piccolo?" I guess the answer is no, there are already some great reviews out there.

You didn't hear me say that! My answer is yes. When I'm looking at a pen for purchase the more reviews we have of it the better. I enjoy getting several different perspectives of one pen. You know, there's always something someone forgets to include too, and someone else will pick up on it.

You did a nice job reviewing this beautiful pen. A buy I'm planning for next year is a Nakaya and I am interested in the Piccolo. This review is pushing me over the top, and your stunning photos didn't hurt either.

And your reasoning for the clip was exactly the same as mine when I ordered my Mikado a couple of years ago. I wish now, looking back in hindsight, I had got one without the clip. Live and learn but I'm happy with it.

Lets hope people don't think a review of a pen already done would be redundant and no one is interested. Just the opposite.

Thanks for putting this up for us.

JELL-O, IT'S WHATS FOR DINNER!

#8 LouisA

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 13:55

QUOTE (Painterspal @ Jun 3 2009, 02:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
....the urushi instantly reminds you that this pen has been made by a person, with care, and with concern for their craft....


Amen to that thought. IMHO that is what makes a Nakaya so special and sets them apart from every other pen manufacture.

I use a fountain pen because one ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to write a few reasonable words with a fountain pen.

#9 Painterspal

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 20:02

Thanks for all your support and interesting comments, I'm really glad the review has been of interest.

I don't post my Piccolo. I've heard that its not something that's recommended for pens that have an urushi finish, but as I don't post any of my pens, it isn't an issue for me. Others may wish to comment on this... I have quite small hands and I certainly don't think I'd want a pen that's much shorter than the Piccolo - it's the shortest pen I own - but because it is relatively wide, I find it comfortable to hold.

And you'll be pleased to hear that no dragonflies were injured in the making of of this review (though they might have been mildly inconvenienced by photographic pursuit of them!!).
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#10 greencobra

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 22:07

No, I wouldn't post a urushi pen either. I'm of that school of thought it's a so beautiful type of finish it would be a shame to mar it in any way by posting. The only urushi pen I own is a Dani Makado. That's so big and fat it would be out of balance. Again, congrats on your Piccolo, simply a looker for sure.

I'm wondering, what paper are you using it on?
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#11 alvarez57

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 00:37

Painterspal be patient and you will see your urushi pen sloooooowly change colors. It is like nature, the change is subtle. Thanks for your review which I enjoyed. we do have reviews of all sorts: more technical and then more subjective, personal. Honestly, I enjoy both.

QUOTE
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Yes, the Zen of fountain pen writing.


I couldn't have said it better.

And I am with you, I'd rather prefer pens with simpler lines than elaborate and roccocco designs, especially if they are handmade.


Edited by alvarez57, 08 June 2009 - 00:39.

sonia alvarez

 

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#12 Painterspal

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 07:28

QUOTE (greencobra @ Jun 7 2009, 11:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm wondering, what paper are you using it on?


I normally use Rhodia or Clairefontaine, but it seems to work pretty well on everything I've used it on, even the cheap copier paper we have at the office. I'll try and add a writing sample at some point.

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#13 ibz

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Posted 11 August 2009 - 18:55

Thanks for the review. Did you order the pen directly from Nakaya?
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#14 Martius

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 23:55

Pens are, after all, about living. Great review of a great pen. I just got a Long Cigar from Mottishaw at the DC show and it's superlative!
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#15 Escribiente

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 23:52

It might just be a temporary phase but recently Iíve become rather turned off by unnecessary Ďblingí on fountain pens. I don't mean decoration in general, rather the kind of decoration that is just designed to make the pen look expensive or give an impression of wealth and power.


First of all, thank your for your review. Don't worry, there will never be enough reviews of Nakaya pens. They are so unique that, to my mind, the only thing that keeps them from being perfect is their tiny converter. Should they choose to make them EDs, or outsource their converters to Pilot, Nakaya will become the best contemporary pen. That is of course because they follow a design philosophy that integrates form and function perfectly. I just put a Piccolo on sale a few days ago, and after reading your review I don't feel like selling it anymore (although, I have another Piccolo fine tuned by John Mottishaw and a Tamenuri Writer which I would never sell).

#16 italiansallion

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 04:33

that is one great looking pen.

#17 1000km

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Posted 21 September 2010 - 19:16

Superb photographs - many thanks

#18 majorworks

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 15:19

I can't afford one of these beauties, so I content myself with reading reviews, which is a subtle form of self-immolation, actually. Nice job.
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#19 rubyeyespenlover

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 15:25

Grrrreat! :notworthy1:
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