Mini Review: Nakaya Nib Size Comparison

Hello again, it’s me, Katherine, going rogue on one of these mini reviews (complete with unadjusted iPhone photos — sorry). This time I sat down and did writing samples with every Nakaya and Platinum 3776 nib I had on hand.

The method: I chose three inks — Sailor Okuyama, Waterman Serenity Blue and Montblanc Lavender Purple. For each pen and ink combo, I dipped the nib, up to the breather hole, kept it there for ten seconds, then wrote a line and a half in my notebook so the feed wouldn’t be too saturated — then did the writing sample. This is all done in a Hobonichi, with 3.8mm grid.

About the nibs: (from top to bottom, here are some notes)

Nakaya SF + Mottishaw’s Spencerian Grind – very fine, has quite a bit of softness. I think this is fairly close to the stock UEF in line width… But I don’t have one of those, so i can’t do a side by side.

Nakaya Fine – stock nib.

Nakaya Medium – stock nib.

Platinum Medium – stock nib. Overly dry to start, but after adjusting, writes much like the Nakaya stock medium. I’ve had a few Platinum 3776s show up with overly dry nibs out of the box. Nakaya doesn’t have this problem since each is tuned.

Nakaya Medium + Masuyama Formal Italic – A sharp well-defined italic. Great for me because I use very little pressure, but can be scratchy and paper-tearing if the angle doesn’t suit you or you use a lot of pressure.

Nakaya Soft Medium + Mottishaw Cursive Italic – A more forgiving grind than the formal italic, but still not an easy nib — the CI is relatively sharp, but the softness means that it’s extra easy to catch paper edges. This nib works well for my hand, but some people (like Franz) just can’t get it to cooperate. Additionally, it’s tuned on the dry side so you don’t get the forgiveness and slickness of a lubricating ink.

Platinum Broad * – This is very close to a stock Broad, but I’ve ground it down to be a little stubby since I have a hard time writing with round Broads.

Nakaya BB + Mottishaw Stub, taken to .8mm – a nice smooth stub, nice line variation but very easy to write with.

Nakaya BB (also known as C) – stock nib

Nakaya BB (C) – written with upside down

My favorites: My favorite width is the medium — wide enough to show off an ink, narrow enough to suit my small hand writing and doodling. My favorite stock nib is probably a Soft Medium, but I don’t own an unmodified one — time to change that? My favorite nib out of the bunch above is the Soft Medium with the CI grind — I love the way it writes and it demands just enough attention of me to keep me awake. Fun.

There’s not much of a conclusion here — everyone has different nib preferences. Are there any other writing samples or comparisons that would be helpful? Feel free to suggest things! I’m sure Pam and Franz will let me pillage their collections for pens to compare against! 🙂

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2017 Pen Wrap Up

Katherine: We’d agreed on a prompt of top five acquisitions, I think. But I’m rebelling. 2017 was the year of the Nakaya for me — I went from zero to six, so let’s talk about that.

To start, some insight into my head — I place a lot of value in things that aren’t mass produced and are made by masters of a craft (see also my love for fine dining). Second, I’m willing to pay much more for things I can’t make/do myself (see my love for absurd molecular gastronomy, much less for anything I could conceivably cook at home). Third, I’m pretty busy with work, but I’m obsessive and I tend to be willing to try to do a lot of things (see the hours I’ve spent in the kitchen making my own sous vide egg foams).

Given those things, and my love of pens, I think Nakaya are a natural fit for me. I won’t lie, I’ve dabbled with my own finishes and urushi lacquer, and it’s still something I want to learn more about.  Until then, Nakaya is a delightful mix of beautiful forms*, masterful craftsmanship and daily indulgence, all bundled together in a utilitarian writing instrument.

And, because the adventure doesn’t have to end — Nakaya I still want: another Mini Decapod (vaguely considering letting one go? let me know!), a pen in ishime suzu (black and silver) and a Decapod Twist in midori-tamenuri (a mini deca in midori-tamenuri would be amazing… but my odds are so low).

* I have a soft spot for pens with gently conical ends, and a (excuse my language) massive hard on for faceted pens.

Pam:  2017 was a year of acquiring and within that process refining what my writing preferences are.  It has been the most adventurous and sentimental year yet for me with 2 pen shows and great pen friends.  The five pens I chose is a reflection of my experiences in 2017 as well as the direction that my pen use and “collection” is headed in 2018.

No surprise to the Sailor ProGear Blue Lagoon.  It’s by far my favorite Sailor (don’t tell the Progear Slims) for it’s color combination and performance.  It has solidified my love for the Sailor Progear and Progear Slims.  With all the special limited editions that Sailor keeps coming out with, like the Purple Cosmos, all I can say is that Sailor is going to be keeping my wallet pretty slim.  The Pelikan m800 Ocean Swirl was a very pleasant surprise by my pen-spirators (Katherine, Franz and Roz) that included my non-fountain-pen-bestie getting me a very extravagant gift for my 31st birthday.  I am a very lucky girl. After having an m800 of my own I am wondering why I was so hesitant to try the m800 size before this year.  It’s a great size for pretty much any hand size and so well balanced!

I am actually surprised by the remaining 3 pens on my list given that I never thought of myself as a vintage girl. However, vintage pens have an affinity for small hands as the form factor of the pens are naturally slim and compact.  It’s a great match.  I am enamored by “short long” pens which are pocket pens that cap into a “normal” size pen.  There aren’t that many short long pens with Japanese fine nibs on the modern market; only the Pilot Elite comes to mind. This “gap” is actually well fulfilled by the vintage pens.  All three of the Japanese firms (Sailor, Pilot and Platinum) made short-longs/pocket pens back in the day, going as far as to mimic each other’s designs.  The black stripe Myu by Pilot and this unique Platinum black and silver pen really opened my eyes to treasures of the vintage world.  What I love about the vintage pen world is that everyone has a “niche” in terms of what they get excited about and what they collect.  With the influence of a fellow pen friend, Andrew, I may have slipped down this rabbit hole and I can’t wait to see where it will lead in 2018.

Lastly but certainly the greatest of surprises for me is the Parker 51.  I don’t typically talk about Parkers and why haven’t I?  The nib on this Parker is FANTASTIC, the smooth body and width of the pen is super comfortable for my handwriting, and it’s vintage?! This pen broke me of the idea that vintage pens were “stuffy.” How do you revive a “stuffy” pen?  Put a bright ink in it.  Inspired by Franz’s post of “black pens want pink ink” on Instagram and following that advice, I found great joy and a wonderful writing experience with this pen.

All I can say is that 2017 was eye-opening.  I think 2018 is going to be a year of continual refinement and potentially slowing down the rate of acquiring. Some people have a word of the year and if I had to choose one for my pen use/collection, it would be “intentional” and being more cognizant of my own pen habits and use case (at least until the next Sailor Progear  limited edition or vintage pocket pen comes my way).

Franz: Wow! 2017 is almost over and HELLO 2018!

I’ve enjoyed this hobby very much especially because of all the great people I meet along the way. Lots of highlights and events that passed this year. Here’s just a few I’d like to share.

  • In February, I went to the LA Pen Show and it was all about fun, and food! I mean, pens are great and all but you’ve gotta enjoy some great food too. That restaurant in Korea town with the awesome iced tea was a highlight. Tin Roof Bistro dinner was a success too. Got to spend some time with my sister as well.
  • In April, went to the Atlanta Pen Show for the very first time. I got to meet up with a family friend who has been into fountain pens long before myself and showed him around for his first pen show. Got to see the live Pen Addict podcast. Late night food at the Waffle House… yum.
  • In August, got to attend the SF Pen Show and once again assist with their classes and seminars. That show is just phenomenal. Got to host the Pay-It-Forward table with my Mom and a few other Pen Posse friends.
  • In September, Pelikan Hubs was held, and it was great listening to Mr. Rick Propas provide a history if my favorite pen brand.
  • All year round, Pen Posse meetups happen with the Food sub-committee meetups as well. The pen posse is a great group of people and happy to be part of it!

Also, I’m very thankful that this Hand Over That Pen blog continues to be. My friendship with Katherine and Pam is just… extraordinary.

Here’s my top 5 pens for 2017 in accordance to being inked up and mostly used during the year.

  • Classic Pens LB5, Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve, Broad nib. This pen was part of my top 5 last year as well. It just shows that I love writing with this pen. The 21-karat Sailor King of Pen nib is very nice especially on Tomoe River paper. The length of the pen is perfect for my hand. It still has Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst ink in it.
  • Nakaya Neo Standard, Kikyo, Medium nib. This is a new pen for me in 2017 that I got from the secondary market. Just like the LB5, the length of the pen is perfect for me. The dark blue is understated and it’s a pen I’ve been using a lot at work. The ruthenium clip and nib made it an even more subtle and beautiful pen for me. Thanks to J. of Classic Fountain Pens! The medium nib is perfect for either the cheap copier paper or Tomoe River paper that I use a lot. The Neo Standard is paired with Pilot Blue Black ink as it matches the dark blue finish.
  • Pelikan M1000, Green Striated, Fine cursive italic nib. I’ve had this pen since 2016 but I only had the nib turned into a cursive italic by Mr. Dan Smith at the 2017 LA Pen Show. Since then, the M1000 has not been un-inked and I’ve used it almost every day. The nib is springy and wet just like it should. I am a self-confessed Pelikan Addict and this flagship pen is perfect! It has been paired with my top favorite ink, Pelikan 4001 Turquoise.
  • Parker Vacumatic Maxima, Golden Brown, Medium nib. I have such a love for the Parker Vacumatic pens and I always have at least one Vacumatic inked up. The stacked coin design is so beautiful with these Vacumatic pens. I was looking for a Vacumatic Maxima during the 2017 SF Pen Show but couldn’t find one with a great price, and nib preference. But at a Pen Posse right after the show, I was presented this pen for a great price and it has a medium flexy nib. It also sports a Star clip which was a transitional clip in 1939 before Parker chose the Blue Diamond clip. The Maxima is one of the “bigger” pens in its time and I find it comfortable to write with even unposted. Posted, the length makes it perfect, but I avoid doing so because the cap lip might crack. I love using this at work and every time I use it, it places a smile on my face. It has been inked up with Akkerman 05 Shocking Blue ever since.
  • Wahl-Eversharp Personal Point Gold Seal, Lazulitic Blue, Medium nib. Ok, Parker pens seems to always get my attention but Wahl-Eversharp pens do so occasionally as well. I’ve been on the lookout for larger sized W-E pens but haven’t really seen much that is within the budget. I saw this W-E pen in person in early 2016 and did not act on it and thought that it was sold. Fast forward to July 2017, I found this pen again and I immediately sold a pen to buy it. That’s how much I wanted it. No regrets at all and has been in use since bought! The blue material of this Personal Point is just stunning especially for a blue pen lover like yours truly. Just like the Vacumatic Maxima, it has a flexy medium nib which writes oh so smoothly. Currently inked with Pilot Blue Black.

 

Happy New Year to you all and may 2018 bring you more blessings and happiness!

2 Comments

Pen & Ink Pairing: Dec ’17

Katherine: December has been a crazy month of trying to not drown. The year is wrapping up at work and I feel so behind on everything, and slightly sick. In light of that, I decided on an EDC that is both practical but also brings me so much happiness every time I pull it out to use it. Diamine Majestic Blue for work-friendly writing, paired with a Nakaya Piccolo in Heki-Tamenuri Negoro and a Mottishaw Spencerian nib for lots of joy. To tell the truth, I barely flex the nib, but I do enjoy the bounce it has and how fine it is — I can cram lots of to-dos in my Hobonichi weeks. 😐

 

Pam:  December is a month that I look forward to the most due to the holiday season.  One of my favorite pens that was an ode to this magical time of year is Bungbox’s Silent Night, a limited edition made available last year, 2016. I don’t have an affinity to blue black inks such as Silent Night or Bungbox 4B. Blue grays, however, like Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo, is one of my favorite inks of all time.  Therefore, it would only seem fair to try Robert Oster Blue Night in the Silent Night. Blue Night reminds me of Tsuki-yo, but has more shading, at least in this pen with an Japanese F nib.  I do wonder if the shading properties would differ in a wetter nib. Given that I have only inked it for less than 24 hours, I will report an update on Blue Night to determine if it’s a keeper.

 

Franz: For the month of December, I chose a vintage pen. But it ain’t just any vintage pen, it’s my Parker Vacumatic Senior Maxima in a Golden Brown finish. I recently got the pen this year and it’s in such great condition for a pen made in 1939. I always adore that stacked coin design of the Vacumatic celluloids. Something special about this pen is that it has a Star clip. This was a transitional clip in models made in 1938 thru 1939 before Parker came up with the Blue Diamond in 1939 as well. The size of the Maxima fits my hand very well.

I chose Akkerman #05 Shocking Blue as my ink because the blue ink complements the beautiful brown celluloid finish of the pen. Plus it’s an ink that I’m comfortable using in my vintage pens.

Happy holidays to you all! And keep enjoying your pens and ink!

Pen Closeups (click to enlarge)

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Nakaya Piccolo (Ao-Tamenuri, Soft Medium CI)

In this review, we have included our guest reviewer Claire (@writteninrice). She creates and sells pen wraps via her etsy site as well as at the San Francisco pen show. Thanks for joining us in reviewing this Nakaya pen Claire!

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The Nakaya Piccolo is one of my favorite shapes — it’s short, lovingly chubby, but also has pointed ends that give it some visual interest. In addition, the two I own are both in Nakaya’s lovely layered tamenuri urushi finishes. The Ao-tamenuri in the pen pictured is the more subtle of the two — the pen looks black at a quick glance, but upon closer look (or uncapping) there are hints of blue green.

Claire: It is hard to beat urushi in terms of beauty and depth.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of amazing materials and finishes out there, but as far as I’m concerned, urushi will always take the cake.   The Piccolo is the perfect size for my hand. I have found the other Nakaya shapes to be just a little bit too long for my taste and almost feel a little awkward in my hand.

Pam:  The Piccolo is a great compact pen that is similar in size to the Pilot Prera and the Sailor Pro Gear Slim, so it would not be surprising that Piccolo is my favorite Nakaya model to hold.  (The dorsal fin version 2 is my favorite to behold, if that makes sense.)  I greatly appreciate that the shape is not the ubiquitous cigar shape, but rather has tapered ends which is much more streamline in my opinion.  Although I greatly appreciate the craftsmanship of urushi, I am also really intimidated to own a urushi pen.  Perhaps the cost plays a role in it, but I am almost afraid to damage the pen or the finish.  I am just not in the urushi-comfy zone yet.

Franz: The Nakaya Piccolo has a very appealing aesthetic. As Katherine “pointed” out, the pointed ends are a nice feature and when you see it, you know that it’s a Piccolo model. Notice that the barrel’s finial is pointier than the cap’s? I really like that detail. And the Ao-tamenuri finish is lovely especially the sliver of color where the cap and barrel meet as well as on the threads. Sadly, it has been a couple years now since Nakaya discontinued the Ao-tamenuri finish. The Piccolo is still available in a variety of colors and finishes though.

In the Hand: Nakaya Piccolo (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Claire, Katherine, and Pam

 

The Business End

Katherine: Nakaya nibs are some of my favorite overall (as are Platinum nibs) and this one is my favorite out of all of them. The base nib was a Soft Medium which gives it some lovely springiness and bounce. Then Mottishaw ground it down to a Cursive Italic that gives my small writing wonderful line variation. The nib does have a specific sweet spot though, if you don’t find it (luckily it lines up with how I naturally hold my pen) the nib can feel scratchy.

Claire: The first thing I said when I tried Katherine’s pen was that I needed to get a nib like this on my next Nakaya. The Soft Medium CI is amazing. I am a huge fan of soft nibs, not looking for line variation, but the spring in the nib gives a feedback.  The CI gives some line variation even when my handwriting isn’t super tiny.

Pam:  If I was to purchase a Nakaya, or have another custom pen built, it would have a soft nib from Platinum.  Platinum has done “soft” nibs the right way.  It has a wonderful bounciness and allows for writing variation without straining your hand.  However, if you write light enough, you can still get a consistent line.  The feed dealt with the extra need for ink with no problems.  Adding a CI grind to this nib was a genius decision because it allowed for more versatility and variability in your writing depending on writing pressure.  I like a bit of a bite with my CIs and this grind by Mottishaw had a pretty great sweet spot.  Of course with a CI I prefer to hold it in a tripod grip but for modeling purposes, my iron grip was photographed.

Franz: I have tried Nakaya nibs before especially with John Mottishaw’s cursive italic treatment however, this was my first time to use a “soft” nib and it was pleasant to write with. The bounce of the nib while writing was delightful. It does have a sweet spot because it already is a fine nib and then transformed into a cursive italic. When you’re not writing in the correct angle, the nib will definitely let you know. Trust me, I know. But when you have it in the right angle, it’s perfect!

And I believe that that heart-shaped breather hole adds to the love of writing with Nakaya nibs.

 

Write It Up

Katherine: The Piccolo is a perfect size for me. It’s short, which fits my hand wonderfully, but not too narrow. It has the section width of a full size pen (it tapers from 12.25mm to 10.75mm) which makes it comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Claire: My Piccolo is the first pen I reach for when its time to write anything down. I might have burned through a good deal of my finished bottle of Shin Kai with this pen. There are not many pens I can sit down and write with for hours on end. Usually, I tend to switch pens every few pages of writing to keep things interesting.

Pam:  I did borrow a Piccolo from Katherine and had a hard time returning it.  It was a really great pen with such wonderful craftsmanship that can literally be felt as you handle and write with the pen.  The threads are not sharp for iron grip purposes and the section is fantastic, so comfortable for the tripod grip.  The variation that the nib provides really kept my attention and interest as I wrote with this pen.

Franz: Ah yes, the 20-minute writing experience. I gotta say that my hand wasn’t really happy writing with the Piccolo for a long period of time. Actually, after five minutes of writing my hand felt fatigued. I found the section to be a bit narrow so my grip landed on the barrel section and the short length of the pen was not really comfortable for me. I also tried to lower my grip to the section like the ladies above but it just didn’t feel natural for me.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: The concern with EDCing a Nakaya is the cost — this wouldn’t be a cheap pen to replace. But, it’s perfectly suited for the job: it uncaps in one and a quarter turns, it can have a clip (this writer does, my other one is a cigar, which doesn’t), it has a fantastic nib that has never spat into it’s cap and it has a very durable finish. But, I know for many folks, the idea of a scratch in the urushi is terrifying — so the Piccolo can certainly be an EDC, but it’s all about your comfort level! Personally, this is part of my bring-to-work rotation, but I work a lazy desk job. 🙂

Claire: There are not too many pens in my collection that I would bring with me to work. Though I don’t have a job where fountain pens would be remotely useful. That being said, when I am going to sit down and take notes or journal, this is one of the first pens I reach for. and the reason is just how comfortable it is to write with. This is key especially for long note taking sessions .

Pam:  Not being the owner of the Piccolo, I kept the pen safe at home. Again, this pen is a work of art and at the risk of sounding pretentious, it should be savored while in use.  This pen is best enjoyed in long and slow writing sessions.

Franz: The Piccolo’s smaller size qualifies it to be called a pocket pen and definitely is a convenient pen to bring along anywhere. It is also a nice pen to use at my work setting. The nib was fine but smooth for copier paper. When I need to write a quick note or signature, the fast uncapping helps a lot. The clip definitely secured the pen on my shirt pocket during the day. The pen is a cartridge/converter filled so you may find yourself re-inking after 2-3 days if you use it a lot.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If I could only keep one pen and nib, this might be it (please don’t make me though). It’s a fantastic pairing of an excellent (and interesting) nib and a visually interesting body that’s truly a work of art. The Piccolo is certainly a short pen, but it’s an unusual combination of shortness without the typical small-pen narrowness — and that fits my hand perfectly.

Claire: There are no two ways around it, I love this pen. The size, shape and weight are perfect for long writing sessions, though I wish the converter could hold more ink since I am refilling the pen constantly. I don’t think this could be the only pen I owned for just this reason. The small ink capacity would make it difficult as a daily writer for me since it seems that I rarely run out of ink when I’m home.

Pam:  Honestly, if I had to recommend “if you can only write with one pen for the rest of your life,” I would be hard pressed to find any other pen that could compare to the performance, beauty, uniqueness and craftsmanship to this pen with a soft nib- especially for those with petite hands. (I feel like such a traitor to my Sailor collection by admitting this.)

Franz: I like the Nakaya Piccolo for it’s aesthetics and nib performance. But the very reason that the ladies above love this pen is the same reason that I wouldn’t own one. It’s just too darn small for my big hands especially when it comes to journaling or writing letters. To solve this issue is to just post the cap, right? But that isn’t something you do with an urushi laquered pen because it will mar the finish. Most people would like to take care of their pen’s appearance especially when it costs something like a Nakaya.

Overall, small to average sized hands, try the Piccolo out because you will more than likely want it. For people with larger hands who like the shape, skip the Piccolo and look for either a Long Piccolo or a Naka-Ai. Both are exclusive pens sold by Aesthetic Bay in Singapore. and Classic Fountain Pens, Inc. in California, respectively.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Professional Gear Classic, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Platinum Century 3776, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Professional Gear Classic, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Platinum Century 3776, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: Conklin Duragraph, Edison Beaumont, Pilot Vanishing Point, Sailor Professional Gear Classic, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Platinum Century 3776, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari

Smaller/Pocket Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Wahl-Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot MYU, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Pilot Prera, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M200
Posted pens from left to right: Wahl-Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot MYU, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Pilot Prera, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M200
Unposted pens from left to right: Wahl-Eversharp Skyline, Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20, Pilot MYU, Sailor Professional Gear Slim, *Nakaya Piccolo*, Pilot Prera, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M200

Other Nakaya Pen Comparisons

Closed Pens (from left to right): Decapod Mini, Decapod, Dorsal Fin 2, Long, Neo Standard, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Piccolo
Unposted Pens (from left to right): Decapod Mini, Decapod, Dorsal Fin 2, Long, Neo Standard, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Piccolo

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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The Great Nakaya Size Comparison

One of the age-old (not really) questions of the fountain pen hobby is… which Nakaya shape is right for me? This post attempts to help answer that question, and do a comprehensive side by side of the different sizes available. There is an official comparison chart, but we have found that it’s not terribly helpful for getting a feel of what a particular shape might be like in hand.

We’ve included every Nakaya shape except the Desk Pen. (Please feel free to send us one… we promise to give it a good home!) It is worth noting that the Decapod Mini is discontinued, and the Dorsal Fins are both paused for new orders right now.

Favorite Shape and Personal Preferences

Katherine: Hands down, my favorite shape is the Decapod Mini. The shorter narrower grips (see pictures below) are super comfortable for me, combined with a light pen that feels very proportionate is a hands down winner. My second runner up (and much easier to find) model is the Piccolo — more or less the same grip and proportions, just without the facets. My preference for the Decapod Mini over the Piccolo is purely aesthetic. (Shameless plug: If you or someone you know has a Decapod Mini you might consider selling, let me know! >___>)

The Piccolo, Decapod Mini, Decapod, Decapod Twist, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Portable all have the same section, and I love it. Between those, it all comes down to aesthetics and balance — the longer pens are comfortable for me, but a little heavier, which depending on my mood, is good or bad. The Neo Standard’s section is a similar width, but longer, which is all the same to me, since I hold my pens fairly far forward. The Dorsal Fins, however, have both a longer and fatter section than the others — which is usable, but not quite as comfortable as the others. But, very cool looking — so that’s a trade off for me. (That I’m still not decided on)

I had initially worried that the “full size” Nakaya pens would be too long for me to use comfortably, but the ebonite and urushi are so light, that it really doesn’t make that big of a difference over the Piccolo unless I compare side by side. If you prefer heavier pens, the Piccolo/Decapod Mini are certainly not for you. Actually… I’m not sure any of the Nakaya are.

In the Hand: Nakaya Decapod Mini (from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam)

Pam:  Not surprisingly, with my love for the pens that are either pocket or petite, my favorite shape to hold is the Piccolo. Honestly, Katherine’s Piccolo with the Negoro finish was so compelling to use that I was afraid to use it “too much,” in fear of wanting to purchase a Nakaya for myself. The threads are not sharp so despite my grip, it doesn’t dig in.  My pointer finger rests comfortably on the section. Unfortunately, the Decapod Mini does have quite a step so my grip isn’t as compatible with that amazing pen.

I find some of the larger sizes of the Nakayas, like the Naka-ai, to be too top heavy, or too long for me.  The Neo-Standard, likely due to having the same section as the Piccolo, is my favorite of the regular sized pens.  It’s pretty comfortable despite being quite a bit longer than the Piccolo.

Now, for my “white whale/mother of all the grails” of a pen, the Nakaya Dorsal Fins.  Unfortunately, orders for the Dorsal Fins are currently on pause due to overwhelming demand.  Dorsal Fin version 1 has a completely cyclic barrel making it similar to the size of the Neo-Standard in hand.  If you like the Neo Standard, the Dorsal Fin version 1 would be perfect.  Design-wise, I prefer the look of version 2, where the “fin” is extended to the body.  It didn’t occur to me until I got to try a Dorsal Fin version 2 in hand but the “fin” part of the body can be oriented to your hand!  Just take the feed and nib out and set it (carefully, of course) to what is most comfortable for you!  I prefer having the fin turned towards the fleshy part between my thumb and pointer finger for optimal comfort.  The fin reminds me of the clip on a Pilot VP so if you don’t like the VP due to the clip, consider flipping the Dorsal Fin body or going for version 1, if the Dorsal Fin is the holy grail for you too.

In the Hand: Nakaya Piccolo (from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam)

Franz: As the bearpaw-ed person in this trio, of course I would prefer the larger pen models in the Nakaya line up. The Neo Standard would be my favorite Nakaya model but it really was a close competition against the Naka-Ai. The longer section of the Neo Standard slightly edged the Naka-Ai to be my second favorite. The Neo Standard just feels so nice and snug for my hand just like how a Pelikan M1000 does for me. I guess you could also liken the Naka-Ai to a Pelikan M800. Both pens are very comfortable to write and journal with.

The Decapod is such a fantastic design and those facets show off the underlying urushi lacquer very nicely. It is a slight step down in size from the Naka-Ai but the facets and the taper on the barrel and cap makes it so appealing to me. As a quick aside, almost a year ago, my facet-crazed friend named Katherine painstakingly searched for a Decapod Mini and when she found one, I’d say she wasn’t wrong to do so because it was worth it.

I have only recently held the Dorsal Fin models and was surprised how large they were. The Dorsal Fin (1 or 2) is a definite step up in terms of size from a Neo Standard, or Naka-Ai. The fins on them are remarkable to look at and just delightful to hold.

In the Hand: Nakaya Neo Standard (from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam)

 

Size Comparison Photos

We are very fortunate to either own, or be able to borrow most of the Nakaya pen models. Having awesome pen friends is definitely a benefit of this great pen community. There are three sets of comparison photos and this was dependent upon the availability of the pens to be photographed. A big thanks to everyone who lent us their pens for this post.

We hope you enjoyed this comparison post. And please let us know which Nakaya model speaks to you!

Closed Pens (from left to right): Piccolo, Decapod Mini, Decapod, Decapod Twist, Long, Naka-Ai, Neo Standard, and Piccolo
Unposted Pens (from left to right): Piccolo, Decapod Mini, Decapod, Decapod Twist, Long, Naka-Ai, Neo Standard, and Piccolo
Closed Pens (from left to right): Decapod, Decapod Mini, Dorsal Fin Version 1, Dorsal Fin Version 2, Naka-Ai, Neo Standard, Portable, and Piccolo
Unposted Pens (from left to right): Decapod, Decapod Mini, Dorsal Fin Version 1, Dorsal Fin Version 2, Naka-Ai, Neo Standard, Portable, and Piccolo
Closed Pens (from left to right): Decapod Mini, Decapod, Dorsal Fin Version 2, Long, Neo Standard, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Piccolo
Unposted Pens (from left to right): Decapod Mini, Decapod, Dorsal Fin Verison 2, Long, Neo Standard, Naka-Ai, Long Piccolo, and Piccolo

EDIT: Photos comparing the new finless Dorsal Fin are available in an addendum post.

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