In-depth Review Of The Nakaya Ascending Dragon in Gin Bokashi

It was around this time last year, that the Dutch Pen Show was occurring and by chance watching an Instagram live of the show, Tamenuri Studios said “I’ve found your next pen” of course, I thought he was joking. 

However, time passed and just like a rash, this pen itched at my mind. It was completely unique in terms of the maki-e work and dragons were a theme I had not considered. Oh, and the price at the time was completely out of my realm of consideration! But we won’t discuss that here.

Months passed and it was still sitting pretty at Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery. I think this was a sign, as it was looking a bit lonely! Not that I’m a pen orphanage, but I’m certainly not opposed to the idea of looking after lost pens! Anyway, I deliberate, the pen was added to my basket after much consideration and I pressed to buy. The next day the pen arrived and it was love at first ink.

After a few months worth of use, I have noticed the silvers become much more vibrant


Now, I’ve done a lot of unboxing of Nakaya pens and this is no different. The pen is presented in a beautiful paulownia box and comes with the usual affair of cartridges, converter, pen sleeve and a Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery polishing cloth. You’ll also receive an envelope with a letter, welcoming you to your new pen and the offer to have the nib ground to your choice.

I think it’s the kanji stamping on the box that sets this off. As a westerner, I’m a sucker for decorative writing and flair.

As usual, this is a fantastic presentation and for those that have yet to experience opening up a Nakaya, you’re in for a treat!


This is my second cigar-shaped Nakaya and although I aesthetically find the piccolo a more pleasing shape. This certainly fits my mid-sized hand better. 

Grip-wise, this is comfortable and one that I think many would enjoy. The step up to the barrel doesn’t impede on comfort and the flare at the bottom next to the nib helps prevent your fingers from slipping.

Of course, there is no clip for this pen and for some people this may be a concern. However, I’ve found that slipping this into a pen sleeve helps portability and protection.

The pen is also fitted with a cartridge converter which makes filling and cleaning the pen a doddle!

My Nakaya lined up with the akitsushima


Right! So when a pen costs this much money, you’re buying for the design and there’s a fair bit to chat about here. So we will start from the prominent aspect of the dragon and then work our way down.

Dragons in the Far East are seen as protectors and signify strength. Whether this dragon can protect me, has yet to be seen! Still, one thing you’ll note is if you’re an avid Nakaya fan, there is a distinct similarity between this pen to others within their range, such as the tame sukashi. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this, is it a lazy design? Or does it encourage one to collect other dragon pens as if they were Pokémon?! To which I say, I’m not quite sure. Why? Well it would be expensive!

But, this dragon is finished in a very unique colour of silver (gin in Japanese) on an aka tamenuri background. As one runs their finger over the barrel, you can feel a slight relief to the pen, that being the Togidashi urushi technique! This gives the pen a nice 3D relief and adds a unique dimension. For those of you wishing to learn more about urushi techniques, please check out my maki-e article on Inkstable

Details of the dragon's head

What I especially love about this dragon is the finish on the head. It does somewhat blend into the Bokashi finish, but because it’s raised, it subtly stands out. This makes me feel that the dragon is flying through clouds.

Moving down the pen, we can see further raised elements in the scales and feet. This is contrasted beautifully with the aka tamenuri base, which presents quite a striking contrast. The keen-eyed readers may spot that this tamenuri effect looks much darker than bog standard Nakayas, this is because the silver powders (gin)darken that of the base.

Gin Bokashi (silver gradient) is used on the polar ends of the pen and has a beautiful reflective quality, thanks to the high polishing of this pen. On a side note, I’ve quite often got lost in just staring into the pen and then noticing my reflection. This polish can be seen all over the pen and looks far better in person than in photos.

I feel this is what Nakaya does best of all! Offering what Andrew? Unique maki-e pieces that don’t seem to be replicated elsewhere. Despite its classical symbolism and execution, there does seem to be a fresh contemporary feel to this pen, all thanks to the silver powders and non-traditional red background.

notice the fireball on the section! No part of this pen is left unfinished

Writing and Drawing Experience

This time I asked Katherine If you would kindly supply a gold medium nib, to which she happily obliged. 

This is a very contrasting feel from the fine and soft fine nibs that I’m used to. Certainly, this nib is more akin to a western feel. Writing is smooth and the pen provides little to no feedback, which was quite a surprise. 

I’ve not had a lot of time to do any drawing of late, but doodling with this pen has been fun and coupled with the superb reverse writing experience, I’ve found this pen to be very versatile.

Customer Service

The section will be very short! And I really can’t speak highly enough about the incredible service that the Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery offers. The pen came the next day from DHL and was beautifully gift-wrapped.

Final Thoughts

Well ladies and gentlemen, thank you for bearing with me! So what are my final thoughts on this pen? Well, this is a thing of beauty. Is this pen for everybody? Of course not! There will be those that dislike maki-e and those that just can’t afford it.

The quality of maki-e is good, but there is also a distinction between the Namiki and Nakaya. So whether this is something you’d enjoy, comes down to if you enjoy traditional designs or something more contemporary. But one thing is for sure, it’s all hand-painted! Which could be something you’d appreciate.

One thing I have found is that this pen does fly under the radar more than my Namiki and in many ways that’s a good thing. 

A comparison between all 4 of my Nakayas

Leave a Reply