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Nakaya Piccolo Aka-tamenuri


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18 replies to this topic

#1 mongrelnomad

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 11:04

I have bought many pens over the past six months as the obsession has steadily taken hold: six sailors, a Visconti, a Pilot, one Edison, Parker, Conklin, Waterman and Pelikan each and yet I always had this sneaking suspicion that nice though they all were (some more than others), I had yet to find 'my' pen.

Yet five months ago, even before the true fever started and at that point owning only two Sailors, I decided to seriously scour the Nakaya website. The custom pens seemed awe-inspiringly beautiful, yet the surfeit of options and my lack of knowledge conspired to dull my confidence. I was certain I wanted to try a Nakaya and see what all the fuss was about, but wanted to limit my - at least initial - exposure and risk. So, armed with a shot of scotch to dull the nerves, I slowly drew up a list of what I thought I wanted or didn't, filled in the attached questionnaire (what did all this mean?!?) and hit send.

So what did I order? The Piccolo was the base - Nakaya's cheapest urushi pen, in "aka tamenuri" - the red-red; I'm not really a black person, yet both my Sailors were black, so that decision was relatively easy. The nib was more difficult: one Sailor had a medium nib (too thick) and the other a fine (alright if a bit dry) both hard as a nail - lacking that inherent springiness I remembered from my first gold-nibbed pens as a child. So: tick (fine), tick (flexible), tick (dual-tone - don't know why).

And then the wait.

Originally I was promised the pen in late May; it finally arrived (to a country other than intended due to the delay) in mid July. My now-wife ruined the rightfully-treasured unboxing ceremony for me ("Give it here! Yet another pen? What is your probl… Oooooooh… That is nice!"), her final hyperbole an understatement.

It is more than nice. I'll gloss over the box and packaging about which you've already heard enough (other than to say it is gorgeous) and skip straight to the pen.

It is perfect. The finish is flawless, creamy and smooth with a luscious depth that can only really be appreciated in direct sunlight. And it is very, very light: not cheap-light, but light in a manner that I find unique to Japan - lightness as an inherent, desired and engineered quality; the lack of heft a virtuous defining feature. It is short too, something I will have to get psychologically used to - not too short in use, but for some reason my mind expects - wants? - an inch or two extra poking from my (small) hands.

And so how is that nib that caused me to hit the bottle? Wonderful. Not flexible in the original sense of the word (the tines do not open with pressure) but springy in a fluid, natural way with a consistent and smooth flow and just the most delicate hint of feedback telling you about the minutest texture of the paper, but with no scratchiness. Despite owning some rightly-lauded Sailor nibs (Cross Concord Emperor, King Eagle and Saibi Togi) and too-smooth Pelikans, after writing ten pages this morning with the Piccolo I have no hesitation in hailing it as my favourite nib.

So, are there any downsides? Apart from the psychological uncertainty with the length only one: the pen's absolute perfection. I grew up in a quasi-Japanese household: my grandmother, the matriarch being Japanese, whilst my mother herself spent her formative years in Tokyo - despite my background, I do not speak the language and will forever be an outsider in that "differently different" country. This will not be my last Nakaya, but my next will be more adventurous - I am already thinking about a way to blend my Japanese past with my Middle Eastern present; maybe I will be even more daring and try and incorporate all my ancestral homes together. But whatever the next pen looks like, I will ask the expert craftsmen at Nakaya to create some little flaw, if even only visible to me.

Then the pen will be truly perfect.

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Edited by mongrelnomad, 19 July 2010 - 18:19.

Too many pens; too little writing.

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#2 jigesh

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 11:23

Beautiful pen, thanks for sharing your impressions.

#3 Wideguy

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 13:17

arghhhhhh arrggggggggggggghhhhhhhh arggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh

#4 geoduc

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 14:38

Nice review and that pen's a beauty!

#5 mongrelnomad

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 16:19

Thanks all. I really am besotted now... no more pens for me till I settle on my next Nakaya...
Too many pens; too little writing.

#6 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 17:16

I ordered the black-on-black Nakaya Piccolo Cigar more than two years ago, choosing the least expensive option, because I, too, didn't know what to expect.

Long story short: Two years later, I had a firm M nib in the pen I thought I might give away out of frustration. With the firm M nib, my Piccolo was absolute perfection, and I laugh to myself at myself that I considered giving this pen away. I just needed the right nib!

You expressed the lightness of the pen perfectly: "And it is very, very light: not cheap-light, but light in a manner that I find unique to Japan - lightness as an inherent, desired and engineered quality; the lack of heft a virtuous defining feature."

I ordered a Negoro in February and am still awaiting its arrival. Having given in to impatience in April (if I remember correctly), I purchased the Desk Pen in aka-tamenuri. I was concerned that the pen's large size would be distracting, but the balance of the pen, the lack of heft, makes it absolutely comfortable to write with, and for long periods of time. Everyone who has held the pen has commented on its surprising comfort. And beauty. But the comfort is the surprise.

I'm afraid that Nakaya has ruined me for many pens I liked very much.

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#7 mongrelnomad

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 18:22

ethernautrix: I'd love to see your Negoro when it arrives. I love the look of the finish - which model and urushi did you choose?
Too many pens; too little writing.

#8 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 18:42

I'm so glad you asked, mongrelnomad. I have this page bookmarked: Waiting for Negoro.

An aside: I used to describe myself as an American white-collar gypsy, and then I realized I really was more of a mongrel. Thus, your moniker here interests me.

P.S. My Negoro will have my last name written in kanji as metropolis or city on it. (That's the kanji on my Piccolo. Not the katakana part, just the Kanji. That'll be on my Negoro.)

Posted Image

Edited by ethernautrix, 19 July 2010 - 18:49.

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#9 majorworks

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 18:51

I'm so glad you asked, mongrelnomad. I have this page bookmarked: Waiting for Negoro.

An aside: I used to describe myself as an American white-collar gypsy, and then I realized I really was more of a mongrel. Thus, your moniker here interests me.

P.S. My Negoro will have my last name written in kanji as metropolis or city on it. (That's the kanji on my Piccolo. Not the katakana part, just the Kanji. That'll be on my Negoro.)

Posted Image


I'd been wondering myself what "Negoro" looked like and had already found that page. I dunno... kind of looks like Freddy Krueger's Nakaya or something.
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#10 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 19:05

I'd been wondering myself what "Negoro" looked like and had already found that page. I dunno... kind of looks like Freddy Krueger's Nakaya or something.


To me, it looks like the woods and Autumn and the perfect imperfection of nature.

It also reminds me of flan with a light caramel sauce. MmmmmFlan....

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#11 OMASmaniac

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 20:27

!!!!!!!! NOW I really want a Nakaya!!!!!!! Posted Image

#12 Inked

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 21:15

"So: tick (fine), tick (flexible), tick (dual-tone - don't know why). "


Looks great. Dual tone...excellent choice this time.

Thanks for sharing.

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#13 Soot

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 21:24

I'm afraid that Nakaya has ruined me for many pens I liked very much.


At least the Nakaya gave you something you love. I like the Piccolo, but its particular size is something that I need to adjust to.

Edited by Soot, 19 July 2010 - 21:27.

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#14 AltecGreen

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 21:29


I'm afraid that Nakaya has ruined me for many pens I liked very much.


At least the Nakaya gave you something you love. I like the Piccolo, but its particular size is something that I need to adjust to.



Nakaya makes a long version of the Piccolo. They can be purchased from Aesthetic Bay.

If you like a long pen go for a Nakaya long Cigar, Neo-Standard, or the desk pen.

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#15 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 21:36

I'm afraid that Nakaya has ruined me for many pens I liked very much.


At least the Nakaya gave you something you love. I like the Piccolo, but its particular size is something that I need to adjust to.



Nakaya makes a long version of the Piccolo. They can be purchased from Aesthetic Bay.

If you like a long pen go for a Nakaya long Cigar, Neo-Standard, or the desk pen.


The Desk Pen is EIGHT INCHES. And surprisingly comfortable and amazingly well-balanced.

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#16 Brian

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 23:18

Of these pens I liked two of them: Edison Custom Yellow/Black and the Nakaya. Here are the main differences (beyond the obvious) that i saw just thinking about it:
Nakaya - a sophisticated and timeless design; beautiful in its application of urushi that is meant to be a visual and tactile treat for its owner; a simple filling system that is proven for its reliability
Edison - a visually interesting but practical design owing to its visible and long lasting ink supply; meant to be used and appreciated like a fine tool



#17 Soot

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 03:19

Nakaya makes a long version of the Piccolo. They can be purchased from Aesthetic Bay.

If you like a long pen go for a Nakaya long Cigar, Neo-Standard, or the desk pen.


I know about the long Piccolo commissioned by Aesthetic Bay-- I had inquired them about it a while back but we didn't hit it off so well, and that was the end of it.

The long cigar; Neo-Standard; they're all great size pens, but I still prefer the long Piccolo.
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." -- A. Einstein

#18 mongrelnomad

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 12:52

I'm so glad you asked, mongrelnomad. I have this page bookmarked: Waiting for Negoro.


It looks fantastic - I must admit that the idea of a craftsman painstakingly creating something so visually flawed is incredibly appealing. I'd love one exactly like that, but with maybe a hamsa (anti-evil-eye hand) in raden on the grip...

An aside: I used to describe myself as an American white-collar gypsy, and then I realized I really was more of a mongrel. Thus, your moniker here interests me.


Simply: going back two generations I have three continents and seven countries. Going back two more adds another four countries while half the line disappears; going back another generation and the line is lost completely...

Edited by mongrelnomad, 21 July 2010 - 13:26.

Too many pens; too little writing.

#19 777

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 15:54

That is a beautiful pen! I'm sure your going to really enjoy it!

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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