This is a Danitrio Takumi pen with byakudan-nuri or sandalwood maki-e with the design of shishi (Chinese) or perhaps komaniu (Japanese version). These are the the so called lion-dogs or lion-like creatures that guard things like shrines and tombs. They are always represented in pairs, yin and yang. In this case I reckon the male is on the cap with his mouth open and the female on the pen body with her mouth closed.
Despite having turned into a collector of urushi and maki-e pens, especially Danitrio pens, I was first introduced to byakudan-nuri by a watch, the superb 2018 Seiko Presage limited edition Presage Ururshi Byakudan-nuri SPB085. The subdials on that watch have an inner glow thanks to the byakudan-nuri technique of using semi-transparent urushi over a gold/sliver/copper foil/very fine metal dust base. Sure, I had seen byakudan-nuri pens before, Danitrio in person, Nakaya online, and Platinum online but I guess I was not ready for that finish until now. Supposedly, the byakudan-nuri technique was reserved exclusively for use in places and on objects of high status, including temples, shrines and on the armor of Shogun warlords. Well, if that’s true my tastes, which are that of a commoner, took some time to catch up.
It’s easy to forget that the Takumi is a big pen on the order of a Pelikan M1000. Many Danitrio pens and indeed other high end urushi pens are as large or larger but the Takumi has a manageable size and weight. Due to the ebonite construction the weight is not much at all and the #6 gold nib is well suited to long writing sessions.
From a distance the smooth glossy finish is a bit brown and unassuming. Up close the features nearly explode seemingly with a light from within. With a little sensitivity this finish is remarkably beautiful and enjoyable. I like the finish so much I turned around immediately and bought a Platinum Izumo with byakudan-nuri that I was on the fence about. I care to know who painted my Danitrio pens but I cannot match the signature to craftsman despite having the Danitrio maki-e book that shows the signature of most of their artists. Nor can I find a reference online. Same person made my other Takumi so if you recognize the signature and know the artist please comment below.
When I bought the pen I had the fine nib swapped for stub. In this case a RS “flame” nib that are/were made by Bock for Danitrio. RS is for regular stub so there is no appreciable flex or even softness. That said, it is not a nail either, there is some give if you press down some. The pen was a bit of a hard starter at first whereby I had to press down harder than I wanted to to get the ink to flow. This behavior is a clear sign of the tines too tight so I gently faired the nib to spread the tines a tiny amount and viola it writes beautifully now. Ink flow is just right, not too little, not too much and the line variation has about a three-fold difference between down and cross-strokes. Very nice.
In short this is a beautiful, functional, and nicely sized pen that should age very gracefully. Highly recommended. Indeed, I hope Danitrio will be with us long term.