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A Good Pen For Practicing Japanese Writing Systems


Inkyfingerz
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Hey there Everyone,

 

This is my first post in a long while but I've been driven back here for the same reason that originally brought many of us together: I'm looking for a new pen to buy! As the title says I'm looking for a pen that would be good for writing Japanese characters - Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. I'm currently taking a Japanese class and not knowing the writing systems well is crippling as we're already expected to use full Hiragana on assignments and are currently learning Katakana. (After less than three weeks) I'm no foreigner to language classes but this is my first non-Western language and I want to make writing practice a bit more enjoyable. I think we can all agree that joyful writing and fountain pens go hand in hand. I currently own a Lamy Safari - EF, Lamy Studio - F, a F Aurora of a model I can't currently recall but it was about $100 at the Fountain Pen Hospital and a F Parker IM. I like each of these pens but it's been quite some time since my last pen purchase and this is good enough cause for me.

 

Seeing as this will be my go to pen for any and all Japanese writing (and I'll be doing quite a bit of it) I'm willing to invest a bit but am still restricted by a students budget. Something in the $100-$150 range is comfortable and a bit more is possible. I'm looking for something with good line variation. Japanese characters were originally made with a brush and a pen with more variation will give a similar effect. Something a bit lighter than the Studio would be nice. I find my hand tires out when going so slow and concentrating on each character while using it. I always love an elegant nib but that's pretty secondary if the pen writes like a true gem. Other than that I have no preferences. Pen colour and body material are totally open.

 

Thanks in advanced for your insight and happy writing!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Inkyfingerz
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Pilot Elabo. It was made for Japanese characters.

 

But if you can muster up a few more bucks you can get the Falcon nibbed Custom 912. Now that is a pretend brush. It's a nib that was made to emulate a brush.

 

 

If you like going dirt cheap a Noodler's Ahab won't hurt.

Edited by Icywolfe

#Nope

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While you are learning, IMHO you do not need to try to emulate a brush. That is adding a layer of complexity that you just do not need.

It is the nib size that is important. What you need to define is how much space you have to write. The smaller the space, the finer the nib you will need.

 

Hiragana and Katakana can take a F or M nib (depending on the brand), because the character is not complex. If you have the space/room even a B nib.

 

But for kanji, you want a XF or F nib (depending on the brand), because the more complex kanji will have more strokes that you have to write in the same space as your Hiragana and Katakana characters. So the finer the better. But this then also places a premium on good quality paper that you can write on with that XF nib.

 

Sorry but a fountain pen with a flex nib will NOT emulate a brush. The stroke is different. It would be rather difficult to flex a horizontal line, which is the number 1. This is because a flex nib opens horizontally, thus making a wider vertical stroke. It does little for the horizontal stroke. The increased flow of ink when you flex will give you some variation in line width, but not much. The the multi-strokes of other characters would require you to constantly rotate the paper to get the stroke, and that is NOT how you want to learn to write. A flex pen is just the wrong tool for the job. Maybe there is a flex nib that will work, I don't know.

 

There is a fude nib (available on some pen brands), that is supposed to be an attempt to duplicate to some degree a brush with the fountain pen. Having never used one, I have no idea how close it does emulate a brush.

 

If you really want to do this, I suggest a brush pen. This is a pen with a brush rather than a nib. I've seen them in the local art supply store, and it works rather well. I just don't know how small you can write with it. So for normal writing lets say using a standard wide ruled paper, I would NOT use a brush, because of the limited space. And writing small with a brush is HARD. I would be back to a FP with a M nib for Katakana and Hiragana, and a F or XF nib for Kanji.

Edited by ac12

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

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You can always just get a Platinum 5 buck "brush" pen basically it's just a glorified marker.

 

But yes there are limitations to using a FP unless you like oddly bent tines to fix often.

 

I wonder would a music nib do good. As a music nib is mean to write at odd angles compared to a stub.

#Nope

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Though this doesn't actually involve Japanese characters, a Chinese friend of mine once noted that a TWSBI stub nib I was writing with at the time would have done well adding flair to his hanzi (essentially kanji, just under a different name used in Mandarin Chinese). It was after he mentioned it that I began noticing how some stylized Chinese logos (you see a lot of those here) appear to have been written with, or printed to emulate the appearance of having been written with, an italic nib. Of course, that hardly means that it'd be good for learning the basic forms, but it reinforces the earlier point that one needn't necessarily have a specialty nib to practice writing these characters.

 

I tried learning kanji on a lark some months back, and made heavy use of my Naginata nib during that period (er, kinda out of the price range you'd stated). I noticed that the stubs worked just as well, though, and that I actually was resorting to my finer nibs when I practised the more complex characters. This does depend on how much writing space you have, mind you, but if you're going to be trying to write full kanji characters in the same tiny space as regular kata-and-hiragana characters, a fine/extra-fine nib will do you good.

 

... My horrid attempts at attempting cursive kanji were made more fun with that nib, though. Perhaps a Fude nib will serve you well, since it was designed to imitate (or try its best to imitate, anyway) the feel of a brush pen while writing? I actually think going for a proper brush pen would be the best choice, but they're ink-guzzlers and require quite a bit of practise to use effectively (Sailor and Platinum make good and affordable ones, IIRC). My vote goes to any F/XF fountain pen nib, preferably one of Japanese origin. The lower-end Resin Falcon may be perfect for you, as it has a fairly soft nib on top of it's fineness. I suggest you stick with a stock F or M if you order from CFP, though, as the Spencerian will not only drive the price up, but I believe the superfine tipping may make handling the nib more difficult :P

 

 

Cheers, and sorry for the long answer!

Kevin

"The price of an object should not only be what you had to pay for it, but also what you've had to sacrifice in order to obtain it." - <i>The Wisdom of The Internet</i><p class='bbc_center'><center><img src="http://i59.tinypic.com/jr4g43.jpg"/></center>

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You may want to try the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 with a soft fine nib. It's just slightly springy, although not as soft as real flex nibs. Check either Rakuten (search by the pen's model number) or Japanese ebay sellers like Pisuke2005. No affiliations to the ebay seller as I'm just a satisfied customer. With shipping, the price is just under 100USD. The pen accepts con-50 and con-70 convertors, and the latter holds more than 1ml of ink.

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Sailor fude de mannen else just get your self a cheap brush pen made of bamboo and fur brush 2 USD maybe to 10 USD for a good one it will take time getting used to but I already forgot my chinese calligraphy due to it's archaic strict nature...

I would suggest Fude de Mannen or Fude nib pens, Chinese brand FPs have them so your budget is workable enough Sailor has one as well

Edited by Algester
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I have a Sailor F I used for Korean and Sino-Korean. Very good for small marks and crowded or complex characters.

 

Sailor F nibs are very small. .03

 

Pen and brush are different. & Indeed taught differently. I don't know about Japanese but in Korean learning brush and learning "pen letters" are completely different.

Looking for a cap for a Sheaffer Touchdown Sentinel Deluxe Fat version

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As Kanji involves more strokes, it may be a good idea for you to choose a Japanese EF nib pen. If the nib is not fine enough, the characters can be hard to read. Here is a picture for your reference, the pen used is Sailor 1911M Fine.

 

post-107417-0-95414400-1411055772_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for all the responses. To be clear, I am not looking for a pen that can replace a brush nor emulate it exactly. I'm only looking for a pen that can spice up my characters and be a bit more visually satisfying. My answer may lie in a snub or a snub italic. Although I will be learning some Kanji the vast majority of my writing will be Hiragana or Katakana which are much less crowded than Kanji. I'm fairly certain that for this class I'm just going to be learning Kanji superficially and although my professor encourages using the Kanji we learn Hiragana and Katakana will be acceptable for everything I do.


The Fude nib looks like a good alternative and with a pen and converter being less than $30 shipped there's a good chance I'll pick one up if for no other reason than to pad my collection and add a more unique writing experience. The Pilot 912 is a good looking pen and for about $160-$170 it's still in my price range.


I don't plan on getting into Asian calligraphy in the foreseeable future. So I may dabble in a brush pen but probably not for a while.

Edited by Inkyfingerz
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Thanks for all the responses. To be clear, I am not looking for a pen that can replace a brush nor emulate it exactly. I'm only looking for a pen that can spice up my characters and be a bit more visually satisfying. My answer may lie in a snub or a snub italic. Although I will be learning some Kanji the vast majority of my writing will be Hiragana or Katakana which are much less crowded than Kanji. I'm fairly certain that for this class I'm just going to be learning Kanji superficially and although my professor encourages using the Kanji we learn Hiragana and Katakana will be acceptable for everything I do.
The Fude nib looks like a good alternative and with a pen and converter being less than $30 shipped there's a good chance I'll pick one up if for no other reason than to pad my collection and add a more unique writing experience. The Pilot 912 is a good looking pen and for about $160-$170 it's still in my price range.
I don't plan on getting into Asian calligraphy in the foreseeable future. So I may dabble in a brush pen but probably not for a while.

 

 

fude nib is definitely the way to go if you can find an affordably priced one. they were literally designed just for the purpose of writing kanji.

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Thanks for all the responses. To be clear, I am not looking for a pen that can replace a brush nor emulate it exactly. I'm only looking for a pen that can spice up my characters and be a bit more visually satisfying. My answer may lie in a snub or a snub italic. Although I will be learning some Kanji the vast majority of my writing will be Hiragana or Katakana which are much less crowded than Kanji. I'm fairly certain that for this class I'm just going to be learning Kanji superficially and although my professor encourages using the Kanji we learn Hiragana and Katakana will be acceptable for everything I do.
The Fude nib looks like a good alternative and with a pen and converter being less than $30 shipped there's a good chance I'll pick one up if for no other reason than to pad my collection and add a more unique writing experience. The Pilot 912 is a good looking pen and for about $160-$170 it's still in my price range.
I don't plan on getting into Asian calligraphy in the foreseeable future. So I may dabble in a brush pen but probably not for a while.

 

You need a EF nib. That is good for regular writing anything bigger and you'll just be writing dots on the paper. Depends if you are using college ruled paper though.

 

Actually I'm confused what are you exactly learning? Kanji?

Edited by Icywolfe

#Nope

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You need a EF nib. That is good for regular writing anything bigger and you'll just be writing dots on the paper. Depends if you are using college ruled paper though.

 

Actually I'm confused what are you exactly learning? Kanji?

looks like Japanese language lessons well I don't pressume it would be JLPT N1... I won't say I would start talking with you like an old person... now would I?

my japanese is still rough at the very best but I can at least communicate

Metropolitan in F, 78G in F I'm saying this because really THEY ARE ASIAN FINE but the gold nibs are true to western size... and yes I already own a Custom Heritage 91 for me to say that Platinum standard PTL-3000, PTL-5000 I would say the PTL-3000 first 30 USD ish steel nib if you like writing ordinarily without a spice of flaire

Edited by Algester
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looks like Japanese language lessons well I don't pressume it would be JLPT N1... I won't say I would start talking with you like an old person... now would I?

It's just that the second time I read it confused me what he was saying.

#Nope

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My advise is going against the grain of other suggestions.

If you are leaning, I would advise on a PILOT G-TEC 0.25mm or similar. (its light, easy to use, and writes on any paper, the characters will be crisp and clear)

Leave the fountain pens for when you are more experienced and advanced.

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You need a EF nib. That is good for regular writing anything bigger and you'll just be writing dots on the paper. Depends if you are using college ruled paper though.

 

Actually I'm confused what are you exactly learning? Kanji?

I am learning Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji in a Japanese 101 class. The focus is on Hiragana and Katakana as we are expected to learn each system fully. After that we will go on to learn Kanji but only the most commonly used because a single semester isn't enough time to learn 2,000 Kanji.

 

I feel I should also try and be as clear as possible. I'm not asking for a pen that will allow me to make dazzling beautiful characters that are the envy of all. I'm not looking for a "brush in a pen." I don't plan on spending hours perfecting my penmanship. I'm just looking for a pen that will make practice a bit more fun. Working on Japanese characters is currently a dull grind. Just to sit down with a nice pen and some gorgeous ink is already an improvement. I just figured I haven't bought a pen in well over a year and maybe this one could be a little more purpose built.

Edited by Inkyfingerz
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During the five years I was in Japan, had the opportunity to observe many native writers of Japanese. Some were calligraphy experts, most were students and businessmen. I went the route of using brushes, fude, italic nibs, regular nibs, etc. Found that, for study, the simple 0.5 mm pencil was one of the best tools to use. Most Japanese write with ballpoint pen or pencil, the distinct strokes that make up Japanese characters are a matter of how the writing tool is used, not what the tool is. Frankly, the Lamy Safari E-F should do fine. Just concentrate on the strokes and how they are written, more of a "flick" of the wrist, than a smooth stroke.

 

As far as adding character to your work, making legible characters and using them properly adds more character than anything else.

 

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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I am learning Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji in a Japanese 101 class. The focus is on Hiragana and Katakana as we are expected to learn each system fully. After that we will go on to learn Kanji but only the most commonly used because a single semester isn't enough time to learn 2,000 Kanji.

 

I feel I should also try and be as clear as possible. I'm not asking for a pen that will allow me to make dazzling beautiful characters that are the envy of all. I'm not looking for a "brush in a pen." I don't plan on spending hours perfecting my penmanship. I'm just looking for a pen that will make practice a bit more fun. Working on Japanese characters is currently a dull grind. Just to sit down with a nice pen and some gorgeous ink is already an improvement. I just figured I haven't bought a pen in well over a year and maybe this one could be a little more purpose built.

78G F or the Cocoon/Metropolitan also in F, Kakuno, vortex in F, Vpen in F

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Thanks for all the responses. To be clear, I am not looking for a pen that can replace a brush nor emulate it exactly. I'm only looking for a pen that can spice up my characters and be a bit more visually satisfying. My answer may lie in a snub or a snub italic. Although I will be learning some Kanji the vast majority of my writing will be Hiragana or Katakana which are much less crowded than Kanji. I'm fairly certain that for this class I'm just going to be learning Kanji superficially and although my professor encourages using the Kanji we learn Hiragana and Katakana will be acceptable for everything I do.

 

The Fude nib looks like a good alternative and with a pen and converter being less than $30 shipped there's a good chance I'll pick one up if for no other reason than to pad my collection and add a more unique writing experience. The Pilot 912 is a good looking pen and for about $160-$170 it's still in my price range.

 

I don't plan on getting into Asian calligraphy in the foreseeable future. So I may dabble in a brush pen but probably not for a while.

 

There was a thread with a video of someone using a fude to write Chinese characters. I was mesmerized. I think it was in the Chinese pen sub-forum.

 

(fude collector here!)

 

Found it.

 

Koko de!

Edited by Sailor Kenshin

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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I agree with the undercurrent that says that you might be putting too much thought into this. It's akin to a Japanese person asking, "What fountain pen would help me write romaji?" Unless they're aiming for all out Spencerian or Blackletter, we'd probably direct them to a medium nib. Likewise for everything from hiragana to kanji, an EF on any working pen would suffice. If just for added flair, I'd go with a Namiki falcon to give you variation on command (deliberate pressure, not direction of the stub, etc.)

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