This week I picked up two urushi pens, a Danitrio Junikaku tame-nuri kama-nuri and this Nakaya Portable Writer araishu. I’m posting separately but there is overlap in the photos.
The Nakaya Portable writer is a full-sized pen, very similar albeit a little longer and a lot lighter than a Pelikan M800. Pictured below (left to right) is a Danitrio Mikado, a Danitrio Densho, and the Nakaya.
I’ve been eyeing this urushi finish for a long time. I finally pulled the trigger and when it arrived I must admit to being a bit underwhelmed. That said, the color is unique in my collection and is growing on me. It looks orange until it sits next to an orange pen. The name means laundry (arai) or washed red (shu). The idea of wabi-sabi applies I believe. Use a red urushi item long enough perhaps it turns to this color. I posed it next to a Danitrio with roiro shu urushi to show what a vermillion finish looks like compared to this color. Also, posed next to a Danitrio with roiro kuro (black) finish to help the white balance as well as a Danitrio with tame-nuri finish that has some darker reds than the vermillion pen. Anyway, the color is appealing but a bit mercurial. The perception really depends on the surrounding environment.
There are clip and nib choices on this pen. I chose a gold plated clip and gold color extra broad nib. The clip is standard platinum/nakaya, good enough looking and functional.
The Densho below has a #6 18k fine flexible nib, and the Mikado has a medium #8 18k nib.
The 14k nib is similar to a Western #6 in size and has a great deal of tipping material. In this way it is very much like a Sailor Zoom nib or a Pilot Cosu nib. I’m not sure why there is so much tipping material backwards from the business end but it does offer several different writing surfaces. There is a degree of tuning just for me but it really writes best, and scrumptiously so, at a relatively low angle. In one of the photos you can see why; notice a bright reflection of light from a large flat surface at the base of the tipping material. The large, flat, smooth surface is a good recipe for ink flow but does not facilitate my normal grip. Despite my expectations based on my request for tuning I find this pen writes best when I underwrite versus overwrite (yeah, I’m a lefty). Having multiple options for writing angle makes this pen less than intuitive as there is no one specific spot that is ideal. The feed is plastic versus ebonite on the Danitrio.
Packaging is the standard Nakaya paulownia wood box, pen sleeve (bukuro not kimono folks), and box of Platnium blue-black in cartridges (really?). All nice enough but the focus is on the pen. Compared to Danitrio, which uses very similar packaging the Nakaya is nicer what with little touches like the fancy paper box sleeve
I have two other Nakaya urushi pens, a Long Cigar in tame-nuri, and a Cigar in kuro ishime or stone finish. Both are clipless. Both are freaking perfect in finish and nib tuning. Both were direct from Japan. By perfect I mean perfect, straight up flawless and incredible. This pen has some issues, let me detail them.
I’ve already been over the nib. The nib tuning could have been a better match for me, but it’s a good nib. The ink flow, however, was another thing. I inked it up, wrote a few lines, and boom nothing. Had to shake it hard to start flow again. Vapor lock. Has not repeated but not a great start combined with less than intuitive nib.
The finial is offset. See the pictures. The finial appears to screw on as I can look down the cap and see what appears to be a slotted screw. It either does not fit perfectly or was offset when swapping out the clip for the one I wanted. Mostly, it looks like the finial does not fit perfectly. The offset exposes a sharp edge that I reckon predisposes the urushi to chip. Also, it does not look that great for what is an expensive pen, and it does to feel that great. It's not a fatal flaw but I did expect better.
Then there is a blemish in the urushi on the section nearest the threads. Can be seen to various degrees in the attached pictures. To the naked eye, or at least my prebyopic eyes, the blemish is almost invisible. Almost. Again, this does not meet expectations.
I’ve gone back and forth between keeping it and sending the pen back. Right now I’m at keep. Next few days should tell.