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Nakaya Writer Portable, Flexible Medium Nib

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16 replies to this topic




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Posted 21 December 2011 - 15:05

I had been considering whether to buy a Nakaya for quite a long time but always felt that their prices were inflated by the rising yen and that the pens were not really worth 400/500 plus dollars.

By chance I happened to win a Platinum 3776 with a soft-fine nib on eBay after submitting just one bid. Whilst the pen was a good writer, my conclusion of the Platinum was that it was a pen with an excellent nib let down by slightly poor build quality and a body that was too short for my hand. I expected that a Nakaya, with a custom-ground nib, would be even better and so started looking around the Nakaya website and submitted an order with my writing preferences for the nib.

I got buyer’s remorse almost immediately after submitting the order and was sort of hoping that Nakaya did not get back to me. After two days (1 more than their pledge) a Nakaya lady got back to me with the payment instructions, I hesitantly paid as it did not feel right to tell her I wanted to back down.

After a 4 week wait, I got the email from Nakaya that the pen was on its way. I had been expecting them to reconfirm my writing preferences during that time but they did not . Thus I can only assume that the pen was made to my preferences.

Appearance & Design (6/10)

The pen arrived in a very nice package that has already been photographed many times for numerous other reviews on FPN.

I had originally ordered the pen in the Aka-tamenuri colour but changed to plain black to cheap skate USD100 for a pen that I was unsure whether I would like.

My first impressions of the plain black pen was that it was…er… plain.

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The pen is cigar shaped and, capped, actually looks a bit like a MB 146 minus the gold rings. The Nakaya’s only source of gold bling is the clip. Afficionados or blingless pens can order this pen without the clip.

The black urushi is not particularly glossy unless held under light.

When uncapped, the pen reveals a heavily stepped section. This design allows for the cap to be the same width as the barrel to enhance the capped appearance of the pen but, to my eyes, makes the pen less attractive when uncapped. For example the MB146, with a section and barrel of similar width, looks nicer.

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The nib of the pen is a nice shape but not elaborately engraved like some of the European nibs. The nib on my Nakaya was ordered in monotone and hence, not much bling here either.

I was not stunned by the looks of my particular pen but it should be noted that the same model can be dressed up in other urushi options and a two-tone nib. Had I chosen these options, at extra expense, I am sure the pen would have looked much better.

Construction & Quality (9/10)
Nakayas are hand-made and immaculately put together. I have not detected any blemish in the urushi. The cap screws onto the barrel very securely and accurately – there is no play or resistance whatsoever.

The seam on the top of the cap is almost invisible unless inspecting up-close.

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Unscrewing the barrel shows the converter, which I think is a standard Platinum converter. The fit and finish of the barrel screw is also perfect. No complaints here.

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The feeder is plastic. I had hoped it was ebonite since I know that Platinum does sell some 3776’s with ebonite feeds.

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The only complaint I have in the build-quality of the pen is with the nib surface. Under close inspection, I can see some minor scratches on the surface that must have been inflicted during the grinding.

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Weight & Dimensions (7/10)

The statistics for the pen(s) are obtained from the Nakaya website.

This pen looks and feels very similar to a Montblanc 146, with both weighing at around 15g uncapped. At 149mm long when capped, it is actually slightly longer than the MB149 but uncapped it is 128mm from nib to barrel tip vs MB146’s 126mm.

Both the Nakaya and MB146 have a maximum diameter of 15mm but it should be noted that the MB146’s cap is wider than its barrel and hence the barrel of the Nakaya is actually slightly wider than the MB146.

As mentioned before, the Nakaya has a section significantly narrower than the barrel and so does, to me, does not feel as nice to grip as that of the MB146.

Another major point to note is that the space for gripping the section is rather limiting. If one holds the pen at the bottom of the section, the urushi is actually quite slippery. If one holds higher up near the screw threads, the wider barrel ledge gets in the way to prevent a secure grip. This is a major gripe I have with this pen. (The section is longer on the long version of this pen and so affords more space for gripping the pen but one would also need to put up with a vastly longer overall pen, 163mm vs 149mm).

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Nib & Performance (7/10)

I bought this pen with a flexible medium nib. The line thickness is thinner than my MB149 fine and around the same as my Montegrappa Miya fine.

The nib was smooth but initially had some tooth that seems to have gone away after breaking in. The nib writes in a bouncy way similar to Pelikan M1000 nibs but does not have much tine spread. Hence although the nib can produce line-variation, the result is not worth the effort. I guess the EF or EEF version of this nib might have more pronounce line-variation but I do not think that these nibs have that intrinsic flex capability found in vintage Pelikan nibs, for example.

Ink flow from the nib is average – neither wet nor dry – and allows a wide variety of inks to be used.

To sum up, although smooth, I do not see anything special about Nakaya nibs. I guess that run-of-the-mill Platinum nibs are just as smooth.

Filling System & Maintenance (7/10)

This pen uses a standard Platinum converter. I have no preference for piston-fillers and so am satisfied with the filling system.

Cost & Value (7/10)

This particular model has a standard retail price of USD450. For that money, you get a hand-made pen made out of ebonite and lacquered with urushi. Is it worth the money? If you consider a Pilot Custom 845 with a retail price of around USD500 reasonable, then the Nakaya is definitely good value for money. For me, not having any strong attraction to urushi or ebonite, I would prefer to spend the money on something else if I could choose again.

Conclusion (43/60)

This Nakaya Writer is a nicely made pen that writes smoothly. It is not a good-looker but that is more to do with my own choice of options rather than the pen’s fault. I suppose this pen would appeal to someone looking for a good writer that would not attract any attention.

Unfortunately it does not do much for me.

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#2 hari317



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Posted 21 December 2011 - 15:12

Hi APHK, thank you for this frank review.
In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

#3 Namo



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Posted 21 December 2011 - 15:36

Thank you, APKH.

I think that if you are not satisfied with the nib, you should contactpeople at Nakaya and tell tehm. The fact the nib does have scratches is not acceptable for a new pen. My guess is that if the pen is not to your liking, you might be able to change it for a pen better suited for your needs - Nakaya sells the Equilibrium model that doesn't have any step and with a larger section.



free 70 pages graphic novel. Enjoy!

#4 Soot


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 16:47

Hey, sell it and get some other pen you like. Good luck!
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." -- A. Einstein

#5 ethernautrix


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Posted 21 December 2011 - 19:49

While I'm not affected by others' disappointment in Nakaya (it doesn't change my happy experience), I do feel the "aww!" response for someone who is not happy with his pen purchase. We pen nerds have probably all felt that and can sympathize.

I do appreciate your well-considered review. I agree with Soot who suggested selling it and buying a different pen. With Nakaya, especially a new one, you wouldn't lose much money (if any).


etherX in To Miasto

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 23:06

I did try to sell it in fact, I put it on the classifieds a couple of days after receiving it but withdrew it because of the lack of interest. With paypal fees and foreign exchange loss, I would need to take a 30% loss to make it sell - ouch for a new pen. So might as well use it and then take the loss later. :eureka:


I did not really notice those scratches until very recently and maybe the pen has been in my possession for too long for Nakaya to accept responsibility now. I'll check with Nakaya anyway.




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Posted 21 December 2011 - 23:27

I had just checked the photos of the nib that I had taken for the FPN classified and noticed that the scratches were not easily made out because of the angle. It is lucky that the pen did not sell otherwise there would be have been some uncertainty on who caused those scratches.

#8 Brian C

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 00:33

Actually I'm shopping for this pen. Contact me backchannel if interested in a trade.

#9 jandrese


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 05:21

Thanks for the honest review. I too have a Nakaya with the flexible medium nib, which is fitted to my jade celluloid pen. My mistake was not understanding that supreme line width variation is not the purpose of this nib. This nib is meant only for a softer feel, which it has, and which is not at all unpleasant. For flexibility that offers line width variation Nakaya has the elastic nib that looks the same as Platinum's true falcon nib. I have no experience with this nib so I can't comment about it. Too bad your nib has some scratches; that should not be. I will, however, defend the urushi finish at least as regards its technical brilliance. Urushi is a noxious natural product that takes years to master. The joy is seeing how perfect the finish is, which is a wonder. It will change appearance over time, which is ideal for the Japanese since they embrace impermanence as an aesthetic known as wabi sabi. My long cigar aka-tamenuri gets more beautiful every day it seems. After reading your review I'm glad I got the long version, which is a big, lightweight, perfectly balanced, and generally incredible pen. Since you comment on the price of your pen, and compared it often to a MB146 it should probably be pointed out that your Nakaya is much cheaper than a 146. The Nakaya, however, was made specifically for you by total masters. Simplicity is what it does, and no other pen does it better.

#10 Signum1



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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:16

I also own a Platinum 3776. I agree the nib is good but the cap and barrel of the Platinum 3776 has room for improvements. Another option is contact a pen turner on FPN to make you a custom cap and a custom barrel (your choice in material) using the Platinum 3776 nib and clip. Ebonite material is sold for a premium from Japanese pen companies. For example, the King of Pen from Sailor. Yet, fancy ebonite patterns are about $30 for a 10 inch rod. All in all, thanks for the candid review of the Nakaya Portable Writer.
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#11 Koyote



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Posted 22 December 2011 - 15:43

APHK: I am not in the market for a Nakaya, but I appreciate your honest review. Too often, I get the feeling that reviews tend to gloss over the negatives, as people want to affirm their own choices.

#12 tenney



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Posted 22 December 2011 - 17:41

Thanks for an honest review. Most helpful.

Just curious, had you considered buying it through nibs.com? If so, why not, since John definitely does grind/tweak the nib for your writing style?
Glenn (love those pen posses)

#13 rwilsonedn


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 21:07

Thanks for a great review. I especially liked your objective, yet personal voice in the evaluations.
I had a chance to try a Nakaya flex F nib at a show recently, and I agree with jandrese that it is much more a soft nib than a flexible one, in the sense that we use the word here on FPN. It had a lovely feel if you pressed down while writing, but the pressure change didn't result in much line variation. Still, the pens are beautiful, I think in part because when I look at one I can't help thinking that master craftsmen made this pen with their own hands, and I see it differently than I would see an (honestly) identical pen that came from a machine. Congratulations on summoning up the courage to make the purchase, and I hope you either come to love the pen for what it is, or find a way to replace it with something you love more.

#14 paisleye



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Posted 22 December 2011 - 22:27

I agree with most others. Thank you very much for your honest review.

I definitely sympathize with you over your purchase. A Nakaya is quite an expensive item to not be satisfied with. I too would like to eventually purchase a Nakaya, but after reading this, I think I will purchase one from a Pen Show, where I have the opportunity to try it first.

I hope you find a buyer or a trade you will enjoy more.


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Please PM me if you have one you'd like to sell. Thank you! :)

#15 APHK



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Posted 22 December 2011 - 23:05

Jandrese, yes I realise the 146 are not direct competitors price-wise but in terms of value-for-money in the quality of construction and cost of materials, the Nakaya would score higher than the 146. I do not think there is much absorbed advertising cost in a Nakaya.

Signum1, some Platinum pens having direct equivalents at Nakaya that I like is briarwood model. I would pay the premium for a Nakaya for that model. Maybe sometime in future.

tenney, I’m in Hong Kong and shipping from Japan is USD11 vs USD32? from USA. On the Nakaya ordering form they ask you a few questions on how you hold the pen etc and I assume that their craftsmen do grind the nibs differently according to the specified preferences just like John would.

All others, yes I do agree that it is so important to try out pens first but in this day and age, it is often difficult to find the pens we want in local shops and so buy over the internet. Of all the pens I acquired recently, I have only written with 4 at a shop prior to buying.

#16 Johnson


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 23:48

Thank you for an excellent review. I really enjoyed reading it.

I love my Nakaya, but they are not for everyone. Having said that, my Nakaya is the Long version, and one of my favorite parts is the section. Its long and tapers to a width that is perfect for my grip. The next Nakaya I've planned to get a very similar to yours, albeit with different nib and clip color options, but I've been concerned about the section on the Portable, since its shorter and stouter then the section on my long. Your dissatisfaction gives me pause regarding my purchase, and for that I thank you.

I might end up with another long, or a neo standard. I just need something with a clip that I can carry.
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#17 APHK



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Posted 23 December 2011 - 02:35

Johnson, thanks. As Namo suggested above, the Equilibrium model looks like it does not have the exaggerated stepping on the section-barrel edge. That looks like a good pen but, to my eyes, that thick band around the cap should have been toned down a bit.

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