This is my first review on the Fountain Pen Network and I still consider myself a fountain pen notice since I have only been using them for a little over a year. So please bear with me as I stumble through this review.
I received my Hakase fountain pen on or about April 27, 2016. I ordered the pen in early July 2015. So its taken approximately ten months for me to receive my pen. I believe that this wait time is standard for a Hakase. That didn't make the amount of time I had to wait any less excruciating as all I could do was fantasize about my pen. I am not a patient man.
My Hakase order started off as an order for a torpedo ebonite pen with a fine nib. I really wanted to order one of the more "exotic" materials, but couldn't bring myself to seriously contemplate paying close to an extra $1,000 on top of the cost of my present order (approximately $800). I sent in my order to Mr. Yamamoto, the current owner (and as I understand it, the only maker) of Hakase, and then proceeded to watch the time slowly, slowly pass.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I am not a patient man. I fretted about my choice in material for months. I already had pens made of ebonite (I have several Nakayas with urushi lacquer) and could not justify waiting such a long period of time for a pen that wasn't "special" or distinct in some manner. I looked at my budget again, sold some pens and then made the decision to change my order to one of the more exotic materials that Hakase offered. The hard part was choosing which one was exotic enough for me. I thought about going with water buffalo horn, but didn't like the fact that it came from a previously living animal (I'm not a pacifist, vegan or card-carrying member of PETA). This also ruled out tortoise shell (I didn't like the pattern any way). This left one of the wood offerings from Hakase: African Ebony, Cocobolo or Rosewood.
Eventually, I "settled" on African Ebony as I liked the fact that the wood was dense and had substance. The dark aesthetic of the wood also appealed to me. After resolving most of my questions and concerns through weeks of research, I emailed Mr. Yamamoto to let him know that I wanted to change the material for y pen to African Ebony and the nib to a fine-medium stub with flex. After verifying the price difference, Mr. Yamamoto confirmed the change to my order.
In early March 2016, I received an email from Mr. Yamamoto letting me know that he would be starting on my pen in April 2016 and that I should pay the remaining amount due. With my PayPal account sadly depleted, I patiently waited.
In late April 2016, I received an email that my pen had shipped! My major concern now was whether the pen would make it through customs and if I would have to pay any customs. After a couple of stressful days waiting, I found a package waiting on my work desk.
My Hakase came in a plain cardboard box with the word "Hakase" on it. I opened the box to find a smaller box wrapped in a grey Hakase gift wrap. The box was expertly wrapped and I thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping my "gift" (coincidentally my birthday is in April, so I considered this my birthday gift).
Inside the gift wrap was a beautiful wooden presentation box with Japanese writing. My Japanese is rather rusty so I couldn't decipher the writing, but I imagine it says "Hakase" and "fountain pen" somewhere in there. It should also mention something about master pen craftsman somewhere in the writing, but I doubt it since the Japanese tend to be rather humble.
Inside the wooden box was what I initially felt was a rather small pen. For some odd reason, I was expecting a pen about the same size as a Montblanc 149. A feeling of disappointment washed over me and intensified given the long wait period. The pen looked insignificant on first glance. I forced myself to set aside the feeling and reached inside for the pen. The pen felt small at first, especially for the amount of money I paid for it. But there is absolute truth in the old adage "bigger is not better."
Once I took the time to examine my pen at length, I was pleasantly surprised by how the pen seemed to just "fit" into my hand. I've owned a lot of fountain pens and some of them have been really uncomfortable to hold and use for long periods of time (I'm looking at your Montblanc 149). The Hakase just fit and is extremely comfortable to use. The African Ebony adds heft and density, but the pen is magically light. The pen looks uniformly solid black, but when you look closely, you can see the wood grain which adds character and personality to the pen. It's rustic and modern, and the pen begs to be handled.
I elected to have solid gold furniture on mine and it complements the dark African Ebony. The gold furniture is unique and emphasized the uniqueness of this pen. People who are not even pen enthusiasts understand that this pen is custom and special. The workmanship is expertly done. I'm not a craftsman, but even if I were, I think I would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with this pen. Everything has been shaped perfectly and all the parts fit together.
The pen body and cap are made of African Ebony, while the section is highly polished ebonite. The ebonite matches well with the African Ebony wood. The nib and converter are from Pilot. The nib has minimal etching (the word Hakase and their logo) but its simple design conforms with the rest of the pen. I ran Bung Box Ink of the Witch through my pen and the fine-medium nib glided smoothly across my Tomoe River paper like a seasoned figure skater on ice. There was minimal feedback, but it was not unpleasant.
The only issue I would have with this pen is that the nib does not flex much. I'm not sure if its because Mr. Yamamoto forgot to add flex, or if the nib only supports minimal flex. It doesn't bother me at all, but it is something I wanted to ask Mr. Yamamoto at a later date.
I have no regrets about purchasing this pen and I love, love using it. I find myself reaching for it all the time and I can't believe I own a Hakase. I am actually looking to get another Hakase, this one in Rosewood with a flat-top design. I have two kids, and it feels fundamentally unfair to bequeath one with a Hakase, and leave the other without. Or at least this is what I tell myself as I find myself reaching for my wallet to put in the order. I can unequivocally recommend getting a Hakase if you are a fountain pen enthusiast. I am not responsible for the sizeable dent it will put in your wallet and bank account .
Edited by hawpunch, 16 May 2016 - 08:47.