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Kuretake DU141-15C: a first contact

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Note to the moderator: I didn't know if this would fit here or should better be in "It writes but is not a fountain pen". If if should be there, just let me know and I'll repost there.


I've decided to start gearing up my ink consumption (have too many inks), and since I am writing less lately, I've decided to retake sketching. Now, this gave me the idea: shading and filling is a bit cumbersome with a normal FP. So, why not get a brush fountain pen?


I do have some brush pens, but like dip pens they are not so handy for sketching on the go. Plus these I use with an ink stick and not FP ink. So, after much looking around, I decided to give the Kuretake fountain pens a try. I finally opted for the red, "urushi", fountain pen. I can't find (or I don't know how to yet) too much info on these pens, this one seems to be part of the "Million Years" series, but not quite so. For the price, I suppose it must be all-industrial and likely lacquered with some artificial lacquer (though the box mentions -according to Yandex- "urushi"


So, there I went. After an unsuccessful attempt with eBay (no problem with the seller, I must say s/he was most handsome), I finally decided to open an account in Amazon.co.jp, run my search in English and found the pen I was looking for at an excellent price (similar to the one on eBay). The difference? The eBay seller used plain postage and postage was included, while Amazon would charge for the postage and customs, although I must say the cost seemed still acceptable; I also ordered a second pen and a spare section/brush unit and Amazon pooled all the items in a single parcel with a single shipping, so I didn't feel as bad as the cost was split over the items. I only regret I forgot to get a converter too, but that I can find here. Shipment has been surprisingly fast, less than one week, using DHL. And no need to worry about customs. So, my experience getting it from Amazon.co.jp has been most satisfactory.




and a look at the back of the box with the instructions.As of April 2021 it was fun to see the automatic translation.




The pen comes in a cardboard box, nothing fancy, 18.21 x 5.99 x 2.31 cm; 36.29 g, with a plastic insert where you get inlaid a box with three cartridges, the cap and the pen. The only drawback is that once the pen is inked you need to keep it capped, and then you cannot put it back in the box for the capped pen does not fit inside the pen space. I will post pictures tomorrow.




And finally unboxed:




The pen is ultralight (11.5g capped and with the full cartridge inserted, so ultralight). It is 137mm long and 11mm diameter at the cap. The cartridges seem to have a metal ball on the tip and are somewhat "hard" to insert. So, after a first attempt, and out of an excess of caution not to damage the brush, I decided to cap the pen before placing the cartridge.


These are the instructions at the back of the cartridge box:





Capping the pen is... odd: it feels like it has a spring inside so you need to push until you hear the click that signals the cap has closed. It also requires a bit of force to uncap. I imagine that with use it will yield and be easier to cap/uncap. So, capped I unscrew the barrel. By the way, this pen did not come with a water cartridge to keep the brush wet. I pushed the cartridge in (had to apply some pressure until it yielded and entered softly afterwards, and tried to write. I expected it would take some time for the ink to reach the tip by capillarity, but to my surprise it started writing straight away. It's not that it had ink from before, as I had previously tested the tip with my fingers to see if it felt dry and it didn't stain. So another score point for its flow.


Put to paper, it proved to be fairly sensitive. Used to more heavy pens, and steel nails, such a lightweight pen with such a soft brush requires a very, very light touch. You can get thin hairlines as well as thick strokes, but I can already tell that it will take me some time to get used to it. Mind you, I like to write with a light touch, but this needs that you write almost like flying on an air cushion. Yet, the first strokes felt really nice. I am already looking forward to master it.



So, how does it look like? In some Internet pictures it looks like a brilliant red, while in others it is more like a burgundy. In real life it does indeed look Burgundy, and gorgeous, just what I wanted. Since it is what I wanted, it would be no surprise if I gave it another score point for the looks, but being realistic that is highly subjective. It is cigar shaped (a shape I do also favor), polished and with golden trims (cap and barrel rings, clip and section ring). It bears a very discrete, golden Kuretake logo between the clip and the cap border ring. The clip is simple, almost minimalist. All in all a functional, simple, streamlined design. Just my thing, so I'm happy, of course.






Being so lightweight, it may be of thin plastic and perhaps fragile. Well, time will tell. I intend on carrying it in a leather sleeve or a shirt pocket so I can sketch on the fly on a little A7 or A6 note book.


What more do I find fun about this pen? Well, it's not really the pen, but using an automatic translator to get the Japanese instructions on the back of the box, has been also a lot of fun (and demanded some creative reading) 🙂


Is it worth buying? Well, for a little less you can get the black one. But I already have too many black cigar pens. For Yen 2402 + 1500 shipping + customs it is still a nice treat. Specially if you combine shipping. Doesn't feel too sturdy but is light and beautiful. For somewhat more ({3300 yen) you can get a sashi-e decorated version.


Well, tomorrow I will try to upload some images (once I download them from the cell phone to the computer). But for now, I think this is enough for a first contact. I am very happy with this pen. It promises to deliver lots of fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Edited by txomsy
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Very much look forward to seeing the pictures - I was looking at these very recently and find them fascinating. 

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I have added the pictures to the original post. So, for now, the first contact with the Japanese Kuretake red-lacquered, Million Years brush fountain pen is complete.


Feel free to add if you have more information on the brand, the pens or the lacquering.


Some more detail. The brush is made of weasel hair, and feels.. wonderful. I guess the cap mechanism is so that it better protects the brush and ensures a tight closing so it doesn't dry. Cartridges are of the Platinum type, and the pen takes a Platinum converter (which I will eventually need to get). From other reviews it seems it can take fountain pen inks with no problem, same for Rotring inks, and that even IG inks work well, and since they don't react with the brush hair, are even easier to clean than on an FP, but I haven't had it yet long enough to try.


According to https://www.parkablogs.com/content/review-kuretake-brush-pen the pen is made of metal. If so it must be very thin considering how lightweight it is or a light alloy. Well, actually I just had a look at the inside of the barrel and cap and it indeed seems to be made of metal. Most likely some aluminum alloy. Another score point (in my book) for this pen!


I seem to remember having read somewhere that they had 20 layers of hand-painted urushi... Found, for a different model here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kuretake-Japanese-Fountain-Lacquer-Natural/dp/B073G9TNW6


But it sounds like just a copy-paste from some generic information on urushi in other pens and possibly does not apply to the Kuretake Million Years line. OTOH, in another Amazon site, https://www.amazon.ca/Kuretake-Japanese-Fountain-Toshusai-Shakuras/dp/B073GC5RMR, regarding another model, they repeat a similar assertion. Certainly I doubt the shell powder assertion applies to those models, but maybe it is a copy-paste from a different model? If it did, indeed, have 20 hand-painted layers of urushi lacquer, this would be truly an awesome treat. But, somehow, I find it extremely doubtful and find more credible that some seller just copied the description from somewhere else on the Net. I would like to be corrected by someone who knows better, though.


The box (according to automatic translation) says it is urushi, but I don't know either if that is a generic term for any kind of lacquer in Japan nor if it includes machine-applied. Again, would be nice if someone who knows better could help clarify.


BTW, I just discovered in Amazon.sg a different Million Year model that looks gorgeous as well, the Urushi Cho Tea, DU143-15C. Out of stock though, which is all well for otherwise I might end ordering one.


It seems there is much misinformation out there. As I said, it would be nice if someone with more knowledge could step in and give us more details of these pens (the Kuretake Million Years line).


Edit: some minor corrections

Edited by txomsy
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