[Brief introduction] This is my 10th pen review in English. I have reached the 10th while I am
not aware of it. It means that I have completely fallen into a bottomless swamp named fountain
pens in the course of a short period.
Pilot launched 3 kinds of Limited Edition fountain pens in 2008 to commemorate the 90th
Anniversary of its Foundation(1918). Let me introduce them according to the value of the price.
The first: "Toki", it means a Japanese crested ibis. Only 90 pieces were produced all over the world.
They are oversized genuine Maki-e fountain pens and the list price is 1200 thousand yen.
The second: "Raden-Toki", the details of which I will introduce in this review, 900 pieces in the
world(700 for Japanese market, 200 for overseas), the list price, 120 thousand yen. The last:
M90, 9000 pieces in the world, the list price, 12 thousand yen. I think that the number of the
production is associated with the 90th Anniversary.
To my interest, the list price multiplied by the number in every pen makes the same 108
million yen. I do not know if Pilot would suggest some meaning for this number, but in Japan
in general 108 is received as the symbol of "Bonnoh", that is Buddhist term in Japanese
meaning "earthly desires", under the influence of Buddhism. Many fountain pen lovers in
Japan express their mind that is full of irrepressible urge for fountain pens as Bonnoh with
wry smiles because they cannot be prevented from wanting to get fountain pens as if they
were cast into the Avici hell＊1 and suffered from limitless thirst. Pilot must be an awesome
company if they hide their desire that they wish to let people buy fountain pens by
arousing the Bonnoh for fountain pens.
Japan has become aging society rapidly and from the point of the distribution of wealth in
the whole society, senior citizens class is gathering wealth with a lack of balance. Therefore
it is important that we let them consume for the sake of Japanese economic growth, but
generally speaking they are thrifty persons and eager to make money before consuming. So,
if I mention fountain pens, fountain pens that have good efficiency not only as function of
writing instruments but also such attractiveness as arouse the Bonnoh of persons with
extensive experience in life, are needed in order to loosen their tight purse strings. Once such
charming pens exist, senior citizens must buy them even if they are rather expensive. Pilot
that focus on the Bonnoh must remain secure when they reach their 100th Anniversary.
The first "Toki" is not a practical writing instrument for me even if it is a work of art, so it is
absolutely not my object to be bought. Mind you, in the first place I can not have enough
money to do so. The last M90 is a relatively reasonably priced pen. I have highly appreciated
Pilot efforts that they released this sort of anniversary pen. I bought 5 M90s until now and 3
were given as gifts, 1 was sold. I think M90 is one of the best gifts for fountain pen beginners
that have become familiar with ballpoint pens. So the balance of the account now is 1 M90 that
I have. I am surely going to want to have another M90 in the end although I do not need to do
so when I happen to find M90 for sale. Of course, in fact, I can now hardly find them as the
production was finished and the supply to the distributors became broken after the accumulation
of the output, of which quotas was to make 1000 pieces a month, reached to the upper limit,
9000.＊2 A puzzling question is middle "Raden-Toki". It is not so cheep as to be bought without
hesitation. But it is not impossible for me to buy it, even if it is quite tough. When the advance
order began to be accepted, I finally subscribed a Raden-Toki in a fountain pen shop after
much hesitation and started to save up enough money. But after that I found that it did not
enjoy tumultuous popularity and it did not seem to be sold out immediately. Furthermore I
started to think a Raden-Toki as a just plain and boring pen while I looked at the picture that
appeared in the propaganda brochure again and again. The list price is the same as that of
Pilot 85th. But the body of the 85th was made of silver925 while the 90th was made of brass.
So I began to feel strongly that the 90th was comparatively high in price. On second thoughts,
I decided to see how things would move and cancelled the order for such above-mentioned
reasons finally.＊3 I was to have come to a final conclusion there. But the Raden-Toki was
released at last and I looked at the original in a shop window. Silver powder in the center of
the body shined soberly and both ends glittered with prismatic colors, against such a deep
black as the dark surface of the water, not jet-black. The original looked better than the picture
and I was deeply moved! In those days, a mint Raden-Toki was put up for sale at Yahoo auction
and I bid involuntarily. After all the Toki soaring over the glittering surface of the water came
flying closer to my hands in these details.
I think the basic design as a fountain pen is quite similar to that of the 85th Anniversary pen.
So I have decided to try telling you the beauty of this pen incorporating the comparison between
this 90th and the 85th properly.
＊1 108 is said to be a number of earthly desires by that a person is troubled and it is a custom to
ring temple bells 108 times to send out the old year as "Joya no kane", that is, "the New Yesr's
Eve bells" on the last day of the year in Japan. It is understood that the custom is symbolical
behavior to repudiate all earthly desires. " The Avici hell" is thought to be the eighth and most
painful of the eight hells in Buddhism.
＊２ I asked a pen doctor if they have a plan to produce M90 additionally when I went to a Pilot
pen clinic, he answered me that it was impossible that they would produce more M90 as it
was limited pen.
＊３ I posted the review of Pilot85 under these situations. Therefore I stated that Pilot 90th
Raden-Toki would be less appreciated than Pilot85. But I have changed my mind. I am now
deeply crazy about the 90th.
1 First Impressions (9/10) –The smallish, exclusive box that the pen was in is made of
paulownia wood, of which shape is such a octagon as a rectangle of which apexes are cut off,
gives off an air of extravagance with elegant appearance. When I opened the box, there were
the pen, a special heptagonal bottle of Pilot black ink with the figure of flapping "Toki"
imprinted on the cap and a special label sticked, papers(booklet, a guarantee and so on) and
the 90th commemorative metal plate on which the serial number was engraved ,against the
background of refined blue stand like the color of early summer. The stand where the pen was
put is removable and under it, there was a black leather pen sheath. The hinge, made of wood,
is elaborately built. A Japanese style neat scene based on blue and black against whitish,
unpainted wood appears before us without excessive decorations. But non- Japanese style
(Chinese style?) polygonal shape is used as for the formation. My sensibility was stimulated
delicately. I think this is pretty amazing staging that makes us feel a premonition of dramatic
development in quiet circumstances. The first impression about the pen would be rather plain
and it would be difficult to understand the virtues at first glance compared with Pilot 85th. But
once you take the pen in your hand, you will have a real feeling that it is made properly and it
is a splendid piece of workmanship. A combination of black urushi and silver in the cap band,
sober reflection of silver powder spreading around there, glittering of raden concentrating on
both ends of the pen, which I gazed at thoroughly, I was covered by the movement that this
beauty was not ordinary. The comments that the 85th was gaudy were sent in the review of the
85th, but I thought that this pen have no relation to such comments.
2 Appearance & Design (10/10) - The motif of this pen is above-mentioned Toki ,that is,
Japanese crested ibis. Why? Pilot explain that they superimposed the flying of Toki in the
blue sky on their thoughts to achieve a still greater things towards 100th Anniversary and
they hoped our environment would be inhabitable for Toki when they reach their 100th
Anniversary.＊4 Toki are considered as one of the birds to represent Japan as you may guess
from the binomial name＊5, but they are reduced extremely and designated as an endangered
species to our regret. Tackling for the breeding has been in force till now, especially the trial to
return captive Tokis to the wild has been done in autumn of the year when Pilot reached their
90th birthday, and many Japanese people have watched the outcome of the trial holding their
breath. I assume that Toki is considered as a suitable theme of the 90th Anniversary from the
point of both the substance and the proper occasion while there has been a lot of growing interest
in environmental affairs, and also as a suitable subject matter of Maki-e. By the way, in the "Toki",
more expensive one at 1200 thousand yen, a figure of flying Tokis whose color is white with a tinge
of vermilion is expressed but I think that there is a big gap between the figure and the Pilot's
explanation: flying Toki in the blue sky. The design of "Raden-Toki" is based on black tone. But the
color has faint brightness and the both ends seem to express the shining of the surface of the water
by the reflected light of the sun. So I think the pen perhaps expresses Tokis flying above the surface
of the river at dawn. The situation of the Tokis is made a design of in a small way on the capband in
silver. I do not think it is the image of flying Toki in the blue sky but I think it is a superb work of
The shape of the pen is so-called vest type, the top and the bottom is both flat and the shape is
cylindrical, resembles that of the Pilot 70th and 85th Anniversary pen. As referred to earlier in
these pens' reviews, perhaps that shape is symbolically important for Pilot because it is the shape
of the first pen ,all of which is produced by Pilot's own efforts in their history.
The material of the body is brass and black urushi is coated on it. Silver powder and raden＊6
were sprinkled using making full use of Togidashi-Maki-e＊7 technique.
Basic black color of this body is not jet-black, but delicate coloring that makes me feel a subtle
brightness and is beautiful with depth and sophistication.
Silver powder was used over the capband. The nearer to the capband, the more the density
increases, the more distant to the capband, the more the density decreases. Size of the powder
is very fine and it looks like a mist. Raden was used on both ends of the pen. The nearer to the
ends, the more the density increases and the bigger the pieces of the raden are.
The capband is wide and made of sterling siver on which urushi was coated. 2 Tokis flying
above the waves are expresed by cast technique and urushi togidashi technique.The color of the
black urushi is jet black literally, the black is conspicuously black and design by silver emerges
clearly. Thus sharp contrast between jet black and silver in the center of the pen makes us build
up feelings of tension and makes the whole pen tighten. The grip section is black resin. It is
rational that the grip section is made of resin because it is liable to be stained with ink.
The design of the clip is the same Kikuza style＊8 as used in Pilot 75th. This is reproduced
design that was adopted for a lot of Pilot products in the second half of 1930's. The color of the
clip is silver, so it has achieved unity of color tone in the whole body of the pen. Serial number
（***／900）is impressed on the shoulder of the clip.
The color of the nib is, of course, silver and original design with a motif of Toki's wings and
"90" is impressed on it.
If you gaze into this pen, you will find that this pen was made elaborately with close attention
to details. The surface of the body is smooth with no unevenness. I think that it was coated and
polished many times.
When the cap is tightened fully, the same part comes surely under the clip owing to precise
process of the thread. Cushioning material like felting is attached inside the cap. It is good ways
not to make scratches when the body is capped.
A creator of Maki-e of the "Toki" is Mr. Yasunori Sakamoto, but this "Raden-Toki" bears no
signature. So I think Japanese urushi lacquer artists group "Kokkokai"＊9 created these in
＊4 According to the booklet attached, the explanation is as follows:
"Toki(Japanese Crested Ibis)"
Soaring into Eternity, the Toki Carries the Spirit of Japan
Binomial name : Nipponia nippon＊5 ; the Japanese Crested Ibis or Toki, is a bird so
fundamental to Japan that it is even mentioned in the Nihon Shoki(The Chronicles
of Japan), the second oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book, completed in
720 AD, is widely recognized as the most complete historical record of ancient Japan.
As its name implies, the Toki is the representative bird of Japan. Its uniquely colored
vermilion skin is often called, "Toki-red". In the sunlight, it is said to glisten in an
indescribably beautiful brilliant golden color.
In 1981, wild Toki disappeared from the skies of Japan. However, in 1999, on Sado Island,
in the Chubu region of Niigata Prefecture, a baby chick was successfully hatched for the
first time using artificial incubation. Their numbers have now increased to the extent that
an effort to return them to the wild will be attempted this fall.
The 90th Anniversary Commemorative Fountain Pens were created using the Toki motif.
The selection of these designs expresses both our hope for the future as we look forward to
celebrating our 100th Anniversary, and our hopes to once again see the Toki perform on its
own stage, the skies over Japan.
At present, environmental problems impacting the Toki's survival remain a serious threat.
However, as we strive toward our 100th Anniversary, we will continue to strive to restore the
environment, making it a place suitable for the Toki to thrive once again.
The "Toki" 90th Anniversary Commemorative Fountain Pens are exquisitely crafted using
Japanese Maki-e techniques, such as Togidashi Taka(Burnished raisec) Maki-e, Rankaku
(Egg Shell), and Raden(Mother-of-Pearl). We hope you will enjoy using these very special
fountain pens for many years to come.
＊5 "Nippon" means Japan in Japanese.
＊6 Craftsmen cut the thin layer that was peeled off from the inside surface stratum of various
shells such as turban, trumpet and ear shaped shell etc. into small pieces. Then they coat the
pieces with urushi lacquer to secure them in place and finish them by burnishing them to
reveal the designs.
＊7 Craftsmen paint the design with urushi lacquer on the base coated with oilless black
urushi lacquer and sprinkle gold or silver powder etc. Then they cover the body completely
with a coating of urushi lacquer after removing the excessive powder and drying and they
burnish the lacquer with charcoal to reveal the designs after drying.
＊8 Kikuza means the design after a flower of chrysanthemum. It had come into wide use
for ornaments of armors and helmets from old times in Japan.
＊9 A Maki-e artisans group organaized by the late Mr. Gonroku Matsuda who was invited
into Pilot in Taisho15(1926). Afterward he became the highest authorities on the Maki-e
technique nicknamed as "patron saint of urushi lacquer" and became "Living National
Treasure". He was the namer of Kokkokai. "Kokko" means national glory and "kai" means
a group. He believed that Maki-e must be the glory of his nation like sumo wrestling that is
the national sport of Japan.
upper: 90th lower:85th
3 Weight & Dimensions (10/10) – The length of this pen is almost the same but a little longer
that Pilot 85th,measuring 138mm long capped, 126mm uncapped and 166mm posted. The
diameter of the cap is 15mm long and that of the barrel is 12mm. I think many people feel that
it fits their hands when posted but a little short when unposted. It weighs 39g with con-70 converter
full of ink, and I feel comfortable, not too heavy nor too light.
4 Nib & Performance (10/10) – This pen comes with a 18kt rhodium plated monotone M nib (As
other sizes F or B nibs were available.). By the way, regarding the size of nibs, F nibs (that is,
Japanese standard F, not western standard F) are most popular as practical use for many purposes
in Japan, and the second choice is M nibs. The reason is that fine writers are needed not to break
complicated Chinese characters when we take notes in Japanese. On the contrary fountain pens
lovers tend to like broad writers that have pleasant taste of writing, so F nibs are usually not
provided for expensive anniversary pens. Pilot are conscious of practical use obviously considering
F nibs were prepared for these luxurious fountain pens though some pens coated by urushi like
these were intended only for decorative purposes. I do not know how much they distribute the share
among F, M and B nibs, but I have heard that Raden-Toki with F nibs were sold out in no time.
This shows that there were many people who really poured ink into their pens and wrote with them
actually, not for decorative purposes.
The size of the nib is No.10 of Pilot that are attached to Custom 742, Bamboo, Custom Maple and
so on. The feeder is semitranslucent. The nib design was specially made, imprinting the design to
be made from Toki's wings and "ANNIVERSARY 90". And the nib is bended under. Regarding the
taste of it, it is very smooth, besides very flexible, but taking a firm stand like Pilot85's nib. The
width of the line it puts down is practical. The flow of ink is moderate or just a bit wet. So it will be
the best pen when we write letters feeling unhurried.
right: 90th left: 85th
5 Filling System (9/10) – It comes with a Pilot Con-70 converter that is a Push Button type
and holds most ink among Pilot converters (otherCon-20, Con-50). It is very easy to fill it up with
ink. This Con-70 converter is the black type for high end pens. Of course, Pilot cartridges can also
6 Cost & Value (8/10) - The list price was 120,000 yen (+6,000yen, with consumption tax) in Japan,
about $1,500 at current rate. Of course this price is not cheap, but an opinon can be expressed that the
price is reasonable as a craftwork coated by urushi. But the list price is the same as Pilot 85th and I
thought the price was comparatively high as far as I can tell from the materials and processing efforts
about Pilot 85th.So I gave up getting this pen at first. But I found a Raden-Toki put up for sale at
Yahoo auction. I bid for the pen instinctively unable to resist the magnetism of Raden-Toki and I
happened to make a successful bid. Now I am satisfied with the result.
7 Conclusion (Final score: 9.3)- I think this pen's nature is similar as Pilot 85th, that is,
Maki-e pen to answer the purpose of both utility and decoration within our reach, not too
expensive. Now in Japan, some Raden- Tokis remains unsold in some fountain pen shops in spite
of its relatively small number of production, 900. Compared with Pilot 85th, I think this pen is
rather inconspicuous and is made of less amount of silver. This pen does not enjoy tumultuous
popularity and the result of your acquisition may not be proved fruitful as a next investment.
But when you come across this pen at your side, you will be able to feel it fascinating like oxidized
silver. No 10 nib of this pen is a good piece of work with soft taste of writing. I believe that you will
never regret your acquisition of this Raden-Toki.
Edited by rokurinpapa, 25 November 2012 - 09:26.