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What Makes Japanese Fountain Pens Special?

May 17, 2024 3 min read 1 Comment

What Makes Japanese Fountain Pens Special?

Whether you're a seasoned collector or just stepping into the fascinating world of fountain pens, chances are you've heard of or even own a Japanese pen. Japanese pens have captivated writing enthusiasts and collectors for decades, earning a reputation for excellence and meticulous craftsmanship. But what exactly sets these pens apart from the rest?

From Japan: Specialty Pens.

From the careful selection of materials to the artisanal precision of their nibs and the diversity of available sizes, discover why Japanese pens are true gems for writing enthusiasts and collectors alike.


In the world of fountain pens, the three most popular Japanese manufacturers, Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor, have gained renown for their unique focus on craftsmanship and quality. What sets these brands apart is that they produce their nibs in-house, giving them complete control over the manufacturing process. From affordable ranges like the popular Platinum Preppy to masterpieces like Maki-e, each pen undergoes a meticulous process of care. Notable in this range is Nakaya, an icon of craftsmanship and attention to detail. Each Nakaya pen is a work of art in itself, carefully handcrafted by skilled Japanese artisans. Their elegant designs and dedication to traditional Japanese craftsmanship have won the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.

Pilot Justus 95, Nakaya Writer Black Hairline

Pilot Justus 95 and Nakaya Writer Black Hairline

In contrast, many Western brands choose to outsource the production of their nibs to specialized companies like Bock or JoWo. While this doesn't necessarily result in inferior quality, having direct control over nib production allows Japanese brands to ensure superior quality, appearance, and consistency in their pens. This control over the manufacturing process is one reason why Japanese pens offer such a wide variety of nibs and why they're rarely interchangeable across different brands.


One of the most distinctive features of Japanese fountain pens is their wide range of nib sizes, ranging from ultra extra fine to wide and super wide. While Western brands generally produce nibs up to extra fine, Japanese pens offer even thinner options, such as the ultra extra fine, which are not commonly found in other brands.

Zoom, Soft

Platinum Kanazawa with Soft nib and Sailor Veilio with Zoom nib

The reason behind this variety of nib sizes lies in the intricate writing of Japanese kanji characters. For strokes to be legible and aesthetically pleasing, extreme precision is required at the nib tip. As a result, Japanese pens tend to have finer nibs overall, allowing for sharper and more detailed writing.

In addition to standard sizes, some Japanese brands like Sailor offer special nibs, such as soft nibs or music nibs. These nibs are designed to create variations in line thickness, mimicking the fluid and expressive look of traditional Japanese calligraphy. This ability to create delicate and expressive strokes makes Japanese pens especially appreciated by writing and calligraphy enthusiasts.


While Japanese pens can be found in typical materials like resin and brass, what truly sets many Japanese brands apart is their ability to go beyond the conventional and create authentic works of art in the form of fountain pens.

Namiki Nippon Art Origami Rabbit, Maki-e

Namiki Nippon Art Maki-e

From the use of exotic and luxurious materials to meticulous crafting techniques, Japanese brands raise the standard of craftsmanship in pen manufacturing. Some brands use traditional techniques like Maki-e, which involves decorating the pen with intricate hand-painted designs using Japanese lacquers and precious metal powder. This process, which requires exceptional craftsmanship skill, results in truly unique and dazzling pens that are appreciated for both their beauty and functionality.

Additionally, some Japanese brands experiment with innovative and cutting-edge materials, such as carbon fiber, urushi (a type of Japanese lacquer), or even precious metals like gold and silver. These materials not only add a touch of exclusivity and luxury to the pens but can also enhance their performance and durability.

Platinum Izumo Galaxy

Platinum Izumo

Japanese pens are not just writing instruments but also expressions of art and craftsmanship, blending exquisite materials with traditional and contemporary techniques to create truly exceptional pieces.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team; we'll be happy to assist you!

1 Response


May 20, 2024

Japanese Fountain Pens are indeed highly crafted. Although i can only speak for Platinum (Century #3776) and Sailer. As long as everything is fine with the Pen, all is good and you will have a Pen which will writes for decades and more. But the Moment something is wrong, you get in troubles, especially with the european market. Sailer does not consider the Nib as a Part which can be replaced, so they dont offer Nibs seperately. You can only get your Sailer Pen fixed, if you got the pen from an authorized Dealer, so no ebay, etsy or second hand market. And this will be done in Japan as far as i know. That alone is a huge consideration for many people who know whats happening when it comes to maintenance. So high end quality but no maintenance support.

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