So. To the pen.
I first heard of Hakase through this place. No surprises there. The idea of an idiosyncratic shop in the middle of nowhere Japan pumping out pens for nearly a century appealed not only to my sensibilities, but it also seemed to best embody what I most love about Japan. For those who have not visited the land of the rising sun, this country best known for its precision-engineered mega-products is uniquely populated by the 'mom-and-pop', a veritable treasure-trove of artisans dotted throughout the country in relative (and often courted) obscurity.
Thanks to Google Translate, the website didn't prove too much of a hindrance, and it seems a large® proportion of their customers nowadays are international, for the order form sent to me was in English. The process was relatively trouble-free - choose your material and model (Buffalo horn, torpedo), the details (micro-clip, round roll-stopper), and the nib (0.6mm stub), fill out a few questions about how you hold and write with your pen, and then peruse the returned doodle and begin your long, long wait.
Nearly a year later (though earlier than scheduled), news came that my credit card was being charged and that the pen would be with me shortly. And there, enclosed in a little wooden box nearly identical to those provided by Sailor, Nakaya and Platinum, but perfectly wrapped in pretty steel-grey wrapping paper, was the pen.
As noted in the Japanese forum, this was not the pen I thought I was ordering. Yes, the details were correct, but the scale of it just seemed so wrong. Where I expected something demure and delicate, with the rough texture of the buffalo, what I got was a pen somewhere between a 146 and 149 in size, polished to a smooth sheen and with the general impression of indestructibility. At 33g posted, this is a true porker by Japanse standards. No etherial Japanese fragility here: this pen feels tough as nails. Everything is very rustic, but intricately so. The cap makes a noise when it's being screwed on - it's not oily smooth, but it's not not smooth either. It feels like something made by hand and minutely flawed. The roll-stopper, though perfectly inlaid and exquisitely beaten (these are solid 14k gold), is just minutely offset to the right when the pen is closed. It all screams: I AM HANDMADE BY A PERSON, and though I was initially disappointed, the more I use the pen, the more I believe this is at the root of its beauty and appeal.
To the nubbins: All the bits that work are Pilot. That means a #15 nib from some of Pilot's own Custom series though here printed with Hakase's own logo. I asked for a stub and boy did they deliver. It is soft and oh-so effortlessly smooth and wet without any tooth or feedback, yet it manages to rank surprisingly high on the personality scale.
I initially filled it with Hakase's own real sepia squid ink, but though this wrote well while writing, it dried quickly when left unused and seems inappropriate for a pen not being constantly written with. As I rotate 3-4 pens at a time, the days it was left did not a happy pen make. I moved over to Kobe Ink #40 (a Sailor Jentle special) and it's been working flawless ever since. The Pilot CON-70 converter is a bucket, and all the Pilot bits are as well fitted as in Pilot's own pens.
So, was I happy when it arrived? Yes and no. Am I happy now? Absolutely. I own too many pens, but I am besotted with this one. It was expensive (over $2,000), but strangely I think it is very good value, especially when compared to the only other such expensive pen I own - a 4810 MB Francois I special edition. If anything, that pen demonstrates what makes this so unique: there's a cynicism there that this Hakase completely lacks. This is rustic personality, and you're paying through the nose to feel the humanity in it, the worker's fingerprints all over it. Not least in the date of production, discreetly carved towards the rear.
I bloody love it.
Edited by mongrelnomad, 16 January 2013 - 10:24.