For me, a mark of a good pen is that I want to use it above all other writing options. While I am a big fan of many American and European-style pens, there is something that attracts me to their Japanese counterparts that has meant many paychecks saved up for a Sailor or Pilot.
But why is this? Well, for one, I’m a bit of a brand loyalist and often you can find me sticking to what I know I like. I try not to stray too far on a gamble when the price point hits above $200. But it’s more the performance of a Japanese pen that has made me a convert since first getting into the hobby a few years ago now.
First and foremost, Japanese pens, as a general rule, eschew pomp and circumstance for just well constructed pens. What I mean is that while other brands market their pens with flashy imagery and zingy text, Japanese brands tend to go for a more subtle approach. In essence, the pen speaks for itself. I think there’s a self-assuredness to this style of branding that I myself am drawn to.
Secondly, a Japanese nib is on another level to some of their European cousins. Given the history and appreciation for writing in the East, there are a multitude of nib sizes and varieties from top Japanese brands. And, as previously discussed, many Japanese companies produce their nibs in-house, giving an additional quality control versus mass factory production.
Further to this point (pun intended), Japanese nibs vary also in actual writing feel. The metal tends to be a bit springy and soft, while the lines are decidedly thinner, even with, for example, a medium. One gets the feeling of exactitude when using a Japanese nib.
And finally, for me, the price is just right. Japanese pens have a high level of performance at even their most basic models. The Pilot Kakuno, for example, is a phenomenal pen for less than what I pay for breakfast at Starbucks. And as you go up into the $200 range, you’ll find a wealth of options that rival high-quality (and high price) brands found in the West. You really can’t go wrong with a Japanese pen, giving you an invitation into the luxury market while not making you break the bank.