Japan does it right in so many ways. A beautiful language, unbelievable technology, and exquisite food. It’s a culture full of paradoxes that work so seamlessly in harmony between the old and the new. One aspect of Japanese culture that I find most appealing is the dedication to craft and artisanship. Traditions are passed down through centuries with an emphasis on quality and care for every component as well as the whole.
Take, for instance, Maki-e. An ancient form of lacquering, maki-e is a design process that uses resins and finishes with a sprinkle of gold or silver while drying, giving it a beautiful finish and one that’s treasured around the globe. The pen market today is exploding with options for maki-e finishes. Here are my top five.
Namiki Emperor Maki-e – Rakucho Birds and Weeping Cherry Blossom – $7,400
Namiki is probably the top name on the list for maki-e pens, and the Rakucho Birds design is evidence to why that might be. A sweeping illustration in bright colors, this pen showcases the detailing and vibrancy that highlights the beauty of maki-e.
Taccia Miyabi Yama Zakura – $1995
What I like about this Taccia is that it gives a bit of modernism to the traditional maki-e design lacquer. More subtle in its blossom illustrations, it’s finished with red gold dust flakes, making it a tonally rich pen and a bold alternative for those looking to branch out from the classics.
Sailor 1911 King of Pens Maki-e – Sakura Nagare – $1450
Probably the opposite of the Taccia above, this Sailor 1911 (coming in October) embraces the beauty of the gold dust and shows it in a sweeping design that’s eye-catching and handsome. I love that Sailor is highlighting their distinct flair for design in such a bold way, pairing the ribbons of gold with beautiful abalone shell.
Sailor 1911 Maki-e – Tsuru – $392
A great entry level option for those interested in maki-e but still with all of the amenities of a Sailor 1911. It’s has a simplistic design that’s reflective of its price point but that shouldn’t discount the beauty of the design itself, which has a light and almost cartoonish allure to it.
Namiki Nippon Art Maki-e – Golden Pheasant – $750
This Namiki design is one that’s found on crockery, on textiles, and even doorways in Japan. The golden pheasant represents power and abundance, which, knowing our pen community, may be a good thing to have on your desk! A simple design that’s full of history, this pen is as traditional as it gets.
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