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