(Please excuse the misspelling of "urushi" in the hand-written review, above.)
INTRODUCTION: The exuberant pleasure in their pens expressed by Nakaya owners on FPN led me to visit the Classic Fountain Pens web site and give this line a look. Honestly, my first reactions were not very positive, but the more I looked, the better they looked. It took a few months for me to appreciate the unique designs of Nakaya pens and the adaptation of traditional Japanese arts to these modern writing instruments. My initial skepticism eventually morphed to admiration and on to desire and, finally, to … well … lust.
Yesterday, I received my Nakaya Decapod in Keki-Tamenuri. This is a “previously owned” pen, and it came without box or kimono. When I unwrapped the pen, my first impression was, basically, recognition, since I had “visited” it so many times before I placed my order. However, once I held it and experienced the feel of the urushi, and once I inked it and wrote with it, I knew I had something extraordinary.
Appearance & Design (10) – The design of the pen is unlike any other. And it is beautiful to my eye. The polygonal barrel with the contrasting reddish-brown and light green urushi are stunning. The more I look at this pen, the more I love its appearance. I have other pens I regard as beautiful machines. This one is in an entirely different category: functional art.
Construction & Quality (10) – Everything about this pen exudes quality. It is very light, yet feels solid. The urushi pattern would highlight any flaws in fit, and there are none.
Weight & Dimensions (10) – This is a light-feeling pen. Objectively, it is slightly longer than a Pelikan M800 and only about 1 gram lighter. Yet, subjectively, it feels much lighter in the hand. The section diameter is 0.01 inches less than that of the M800, but to me feels relatively thinner than this. Like any new pen model, it takes some getting used to, but I'm finding it increasingly comfortable to write with.
Nib & Performance (9.5) – Nakaya offers nibs in 7 widths and 4 materials. They are famous for their quality and their smooth writing. I wanted my nib ground to a crisp cursive italic that writes a 0.7 mm-wide line. John Mottishaw started with a BB nib, and ground it to my specifications. I have found with new customized nibs, there is a break-in period. I am not sure how much is a change in the nib and how much is my learning to find its “sweet spot.” At present, this is still in process. My first impression is that I wish the nib were crisper, but I am withholding judgement until I have had more experience with it. That said, the nib writes extremely smoothly and, to my surprise, writes as pleasing a line for my nearly illegible doctor's cursive as for cursive italic, its intended principal use.
Filling System & Maintenance (9) – Nakaya pens are cartridge/converter inked. I generally prefer piston fillers. My Decapod was fitted with a converter, and it seems to be of excellent quality and works well.
Cost & Value (10) – I purchased my pen from Classic Fountain Pens. I ordered by phone, as I had before. Again, the ordering process was a pleasure. They are such nice and such knowledgable folks! Nakaya's are expensive. Mine was pre-owned with a somewhat lower price than the same pen new with box and kimono. To my inspection, it is in mint condition. Considering that this is a hand-made and hand lacquered instrument of unsurpassed beauty. I believe it was fairly priced.
Conclusion (Final score, 5.85/6) – I am delighted with this pen. I anticipate other Nakayas joining it in my collection. I would not hesitate to recommend a Nakaya to anyone looking for a spectacularly special pen. I had high expectations of it. The aesthetics of the pen exceeding my expectations. I am happy with the pen's performance, and expect that, as we get to know each other, my happiness will only increase. I don't know yet whether my Decapod will become a “daily writer.” I have (too?) many pens vying for that status, and it is so special I may be reluctant to carry it around town. Time will tell. However, I am sure I will want to keep it where I can fondle and admire it daily and expect to use it often. It will have a place on my desk, if not in my pocket, rather than in my pen display case.