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Hakase Cocobolo Flat-Top


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Hakase Cocobolo Flat-top



The Hakase Cocobolo resting in its paulownia box. The calligraphy on the box is done by the mother of the current owner of Hakase, Ryo Yamamoto. Yamamoto-san is the grandson of the original founder of Hakase.




As a lover and user of Japanese pens, owning a Hakase pen has been my goal for the longest time ever. Ever since I read reviews of this brand four years ago, I fell in love with the mystique of a small family-owned shop on the west coast of Japan churning out hand-turned custom pens, one every day. They have no distributor and in order to purchase a pen, one has to either order in person or send in a form with a sample of your handwriting, your writing/grip preferences, and your choice of pen material and design.


With the waitlist previously two years long and now shortened to approximately a year, Hakase pens are not something you can simply walk into a shop and buy! At this rarefied level, everything is custom and Hakase can accommodate most preferences. Pen materials include ebonite, celluloid, buffalo horn, different exotic woods including rosewood, cocobolo, African kingwood, sandalwood, ebony and more. They also offer real tortoiseshell as a pen material. Metal trim on these pens is usually solid 14K yellow/white gold or sterling silver, although gold-plated trim is also an option for the budget-conscious. Finally, urushi lacquering is available but will add to the time needed for pen construction. Hakase uses Sailor- and Pilot-made 14K gold nibs and converters for their pens.


I scour the auction boards regularly to look for Hakase pens, but had so far been unable to obtain a suitable piece for my collection. So this year I finally bit the bullet and ordered myself a buffalo horn Hakase pen with the works. Imagine my surprise when this particular specimen came up for sale two months into my wait period! I couldn't resist but purchase it.



See how the wood grain lines up nicely when the pen is capped. The metal trim on this pen is all solid 14K yellow gold.


Pen construction


Hakase pens are expertly hand-turned with a manually-operated lathe (see video posted by VirtuThe3rd) and handling a Hakase pen makes one deeply appreciative of the workmanship that goes into crafting each pen. On this pen, it is immediately apparent that the cap and barrel are crafted from a single cocobolo wood scantling (read: wood blank) and the cap and barrel have been threaded so that the wood grain will line up when one of the thread starts is used to cap the pen. I love this attention to detail that Hakase brings to their pens. The metal trim on this pen is all solid hand-wrought 14K yellow gold which goes well with the minimalistic design of the pen.



The date code on this pen is 012014, meaning January 2014.


Each pen comes with a date code, tastefully and subtly engraved on the barrel end. This particular pen was made in January of this year. The tapering of the barrel end allows one to post the cap securely, although for now I prefer to use the pen unposted. This pen has almost the same length as the Pelikan M800 capped and uncapped/unposted, which was a pleasant surprise to me. It has approximately the same mass as well, weighing 30 grams capped and 18 grams uncapped, comparable to the Pelikan M800 which is 29 grams capped and 21 grams uncapped.



The Hakase is almost the exact same length of the Pelikan M800 capped and uncapped/unposted. It is just a bit shorter than the Montblanc 149 on the right.




Comparison of the Hakase to the Pilot Custom 845 and the Namiki Yukari Royale. The Hakase is shorter than the other two pens but slightly larger in girth.


I include the Pilot Custom 845 and the Namiki Yukari Royale in this review because of their extensive similarity to the Hakase pen. The Custom 845 and Hakase use essentially the same nib, while all three pens depicted above come with the CON-70 converter. Hakase usually includes the silver trim CON-70 converter with their pens; I have outfitted my Hakase with a spare black CON-70 converter instead. Not much to say about the CON-70 converter except that it has a high capacity of ~1 mL and it works well. Note that the section is made of SEM ebonite from Germany instead of Nikko ebonite and the wood grain ripple pattern blends well with the cocobolo barrel. Ebonite is the perfect choice for constructing a section which will be occasionally dipped into ink during refilling of the pen.



The Hakase uses a Pilot CON-70 converter and a Pilot-made 14K gold nib with the Hakase logo. The section is made from wood grain ebonite (SEM ebonite) which can be safely immersed into ink during filling.


Writing experience


This nib is purportedly a fine size, but had been adjusted to give more of a medium-broad line. I was taken aback at first during my first filling with Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo, but have since grown to enjoy the luscious line of ink that this pen leaves on paper. My favourite nibs are the Namiki Yukari Royale medium nibs because of their springy feel, responsiveness to pressure, and extensive shading characteristics, but this pen writes extremely well too, putting ink down at the slightest pressure. Glassy smooth is an apt description for this nib. I have seen very little shading with Tsuki-Yo ink, allowing me to use this nib on paper that would normally give bleed through with other pens (such as the paper currently used in the TOPS and National Brand Computation Notebooks).



Notice the similarity of the design between the Hakase 80th anniversary nib and the Pilot Custom 845 nib!


The two-tone nib on this pen is part of the limited edition run of 100 nibs made to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of Hakase. Notice how similar the design is to the Custom 845 nib? Honestly I feel that Hakase should have arranged for an original design instead, but since I bought this pen pre-owned, I can't complain too much.




Hakase pens keep their value and are very hard to find on the secondary market. I particularly enjoy the fact that I'm using a pen that very few people will recognise or even own. These pens are not the most expensive out there, but are valuable because of their relative scarcity and the knowledge and craftsmanship that goes into making each pen. Finally, this pen has sated my current desire for a Hakase pen, and I look forward to receiving my buffalo horn Hakase soon!

Edited by shuuemura
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Lovely detailed review with the typical wonderful pictures that we on FPN have come to expect from your reviews, thanks so much.


I am very interested to see a picture of the Hakase section with the converter removed, I see something and I want to confirm my thinking.




Edited by hari317

In case you wish to write to me, pls use ONLY email by clicking here. I do not check PMs. Thank you.

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Lovely detailed review with the typical wonderful pictures that we on FPN have come to expect from your reviews, thanks so much.


I am very interested to see a picture of the Hakase section with the converter removed, I see something and I want to confirm my thinking.





Thank you for your kind words, Hari. Would you let me know what you see? I don't want to remove the converter until it's time to clean the pen because of the risk of introducing ink into the wooden barrel.


Edit: Via email, Hari was intrigued by the lack of a brass holder to support the mouth of the Pilot converter where it attaches into the Hakase section, as opposed to the brass holders present in both the Yukari Royale and the Custom 845. This lack of a brass holder appears to be a recent design change, because rhk's Hakase 29018 made in 2009 clearly has the brass holder while Bruno Taut's post on Hakase (amongst other pens) in 2013 shows a section lacking that brass holder.

Edited by shuuemura
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So that's where Sblaker's pen went!


Congrats, and wait a while. It always takes a bit of time to truly appreciate these pens...

Too many pens; too little writing.

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Beautiful pen and great review! The only question is, which will be next after your buffalo horn..? :P

Just to add, my pen from early 2013 also does not have a brass holder.

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Holy Cocobolo! shueemura......that's one handsome and unique pen.....


Congrats and thank you so much for sharing it with everyone.....


Would love a Hakase pen, but not sure I have the patience to wait for one.....



FP Addict & Pretty Nice Guy




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Oh - one more thing. Completely agree about the anniversary nib. Nasty design; the original is so much cleaner and more elegant.

Edited by mongrelnomad

Too many pens; too little writing.

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With the amount of thought and care you put into that review (including careful layout and font size choice), it is no surprise that a pen of this craftsmanship and artistry delights you. Thank you for sharing such a unique and beautiful writing instrument.

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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Wow. Beautiful pen and a very good review. Do share some details as to how can one order a Hakase Pen and how many years of saving should one plan ;) ?

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