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Chinkin is a technique where a special set of very fine chisels are used to carve a pattern or design into layers or urushi (lacquer). The indentations are then rubbed with sticky urushi and gold powder or foils are placed over it to fill in the marks made by the chisels. Sometimes colored urushi powders might be used instead of gold. Once they are applied the pen is often cleaned by a Japanese paper called washi. Traditionally much of this art originated in Waijima starting around the 13th century, but today it is produced in many Japanese prefectures and even other countries like China. As this is a carving technique at its heart, there is little room for error so quality work often takes many focused hours to complete.


Doing some research, I came across the Danitrio website that lists 5 chinkin techniques:



Ten-bori (carving by point): The size of points could be as small as only 0.1mm, and it is the

only way to make the surface for the design by chiseling points one by one.


Ten-bori no Bokashi (Gradation of point carving): Reducing the chisel points and changing the

space between the points to make the design with gradation.


Ten-bori no Henka (Variation of point carving): To push (Tsuki-nomi) or draw (Hiki-nomi) the chisel

from a point to carve various short lines in a small space.


Suji-bori (Line carving): Short or long, straight or curved lines can be carved by skillful craftsmen.


Katagiri-bori (Carving sharp curved or angle lines): Use a special chisel to carve strong contrasting




I find any of these techniques can yield some very stunning results. I would like for anyone with pens decorated with the chinkin to post some photos in this thread and share any thoughts on the art form – whether you like it or not. If you can add more nuances to the history of the art, please do so and we can make this thread into a learning opportunity.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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I only have on pen using the chinkin technique. It is called Seiryu (aka Clear Stream) and it is made by Danitrio. The work is done on the Densho model, which is a japanese eye dropper with a shutoff valve. A good sized pen, but very light in weight. I have a stiff stub nib in the pen currently.








I bought the pen because i love the Danitrio form factor and the theme reminds me of my honeymoon in Alaska where so many fish were spawing you could almost walk across the streams. (I don't think these fish are salmon, but that is the connection.)

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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From my visit to Wajima.

See the tray in the artists hand.

Below is a finished product.

One accidental slip can destroy hundreds of hours of work.

There is no room for error - at least I could not see it.

He was not working with a template - just experience.






Formerly Ryojusen Pens
The oldest and largest buyer and seller of vintage Japanese pens in America.

Member: Pen Collectors of America & Fuente, THE Japanese Pen Collectors Club

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Chinkin is a very beautiful art, but not Japanese in origin, if I remember correctly. It began centuries earlier in China and probably reached Japan through trade routes, I believe. Undoubtedly, the Japanese nurtured their own aesthetics and spirit into their impression, which has led to the chinkin we know today.

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The workmanship on these pens is just extraordinary. I keep looking at the pictures and find myself thinking through the time and patience required by the artists and am astounded by the end results, and the effort that must have gone into it. The detailing is incredible, the variation in tones that's achieved by the slow building up of pigments.. Imagine the effort required to create the variety of shading.. I am in awe of the work.


Beautiful images. Thanks for posting.

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It's easy to figure out these works belong to different 'tiers'.

A box made by Fumio Mae with the same pattern of that cencer was on exhibition in Tokyo National Museum.

Edited by freakman
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Absolutely beautiful. Truly all of these items are masterpieces. Urushi art like this is highly collectible. If I only had the money...

Cheers, Stefan

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freakman, thanks so much. What beautiful artworks.

Love all, trust a few, do harm to none. Shakespeare

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Thanks for sharing this with usI am astounded at both the artwork and the level of craftsmanship required to produce these pens!

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Here is a Namiki tribute to the late Shouji Michikami who produced the incredible Chinkin Dragon pen, among others.


True to the hand-work nature of chinkin, each piece by the same master would look different, even for Shouji Michikami. I have compared the dragon face on some of the Chinkin Dragon pens, and discovered that they do look different from pen to pen. While the dragon pen is completely sold out, when one looks for a chinkin pen, it would pay to do a comparison of available pens before taking the plunge.


freakman has posted photos of some fantastic chinkin pens, but I thought I'd add a couple of the Dragon Chinkin. Enjoy!



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Thanks Mchenart and freakman for posting such lovely work. This thread is going to be dangerous for my wallet if I keep seeing such lovely work!


Keep them coming everyone. There are amazing high end works, but even some more "affordable" works by Nakaya and others can be quite lovely.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!

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Thank you so much for this thread and for those who have contributed. This work is lovely.


Sadly for me, these photos are as close as I will come to this marvelous art work. But it is inspiring to see it.

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