31 January 2020

Premium Pen Show in Tokyo

The organizers of the Tokyo International Pen Show (TIPS) have announced the celebration of another event, the Japanese Premium Pen Show, this coming month of May. This “premium” pen show will take place at the luxury hotel Chinzanso in Bunkyo Ward between May 1st and May 3rd.

Good for the pen community in Tokyo? These are my reflections:

First, it is surprising how quickly –in Japanese standards-- this event is being organized. In a country where improvisation is almost a taboo, announcing this even with less that six months is surprising. But so be it!

Second is the inability of Tokyo actors in the pen scene to create a single important and relevant pen event with an international significance. Instead, all we get is a multiplicity of small events scattered along the calendar.

Let us remember here that the TIPS events (::1::, ::2::) fall short of real pen shows, as the organizers implicitly acknowledge when they declare that “the (Japanese Premium Pen) show will focus on high-end fountain pen brands from around the world for the discerning collector.”

Tokyo International Pen Show 2019. Not a pen show but a stationery salon.

This event, however, could change the parochial scene in Tokyo should it become a resounding success in attracting foreign traders. But that doesn't seem to be the case so far: it is being quickly organized, and Japan is not particularly close to where most traders live and circulate in the world tour of pen shows.

Madrid Pen Show 2019. There are more pens on this table that on the whole of TIPS 2019.

The pricing policy for traders doesn't seem very adequate for that purpose. The cost per table is in the order of USD 700 (in fact, JPY 70000 if booking before Jan 31st; JPY 90000, booking after that date). In comparison, the well-established Madrid Pen Show (16 years of history, a three-day event) charges about USD 300. And the newly created Dutch Pen Show in Utrecht, just USD 80.

But we will see how it works in about four months. I will be there.

Yamada raden – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 30th 2020
etiquetas: Japón, Tokyo, evento, mercado

28 January 2020

Radical Ink

The radical approach to the maddening ink environment of the times:

The well-known Pilot 30 ml inkwell has been in the market for over 50 years. The current presentation (in the center) is limited to four colors: black, blue-black, blue, and red. The price in Japan is JPY 400/30 ml (plus tax).

Pilot basic line of inks: black, blue-black, blue, and red. JPY 400 per 30 ml. In Japan, Pilot has not increased the prices of these inks since 1995.

In other markets the radical option would certainly be different.

Pilot Vpen – Diamine Graphite

Bruno Taut
Nakano, January 28th 2020
etiquetas: tinta, Pilot, mercado

26 January 2020

Curidas's Name

Japanese companies –and not only in the stationery industry-- have a hard time naming their products, and I have pointed at some examples in the past.

More often than not, the issue is simple—the Japanese and the overseas names are different: Capless vs. Vanishing Point, Elabo vs. Falcon, Profit vs. 1911, etc.

Some other times, the problem is associated to the lack of consistency among Japanese on how to transliterate their own language into alphabet: Ohashido vs. Ohasido is the most evident of all, but there are more: Fuyu-shôgun vs. Fuyu-syogun, Sho-ro vs. Syo-ro, Doyô vs. Doyou, etc.

And now Platinum goes one step forward with the soon-to-be-released Curidas model. According to the company, the name is related to the Japanese word “kuridasu” (繰り出す, くりだす), that could be translated as to roll out. And the word would be something like “koo-ree-dah-soo”. The other associated word, also according to Platinum, is the English word “curiosity”.

Kuridasu, curiosity; Curidas.

But Japanese are often concerned about how English speakers might pronounce their Japanese words. Or, alternatively, they are worried about sounding too Japanese. Anyway, at the time of writing “Curidas” in Japanese, Platinum changed it to キュリダス, which transcribed to alphabet becomes “kyuridasu”.

Could Platinum at least be consistent?

And the whole mess is served. We will see the name of this pen written both as Curidas and Kyuridasu. And both of them are correct.

Pilot with steel overlay, Yamada Seisakusho – Sailor Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 22nd, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, japonés, capless

16 January 2020

2-Fold Nibs. Writing Samples

Some readers of my previous text demanded writing samples those unusual nibs. The problem –or the first of them-- is that I do not own all of those nibs.

As is often the case on these texts, I borrowed some of those nibs and pens from fellow stylophiles in Tokyo, I took pics and handed them back to their owners. This is, in fact, my primary occupation at any meeting with pen people.

The second point is my skepticism about what a writing sample can offer. Writing, or writing with a fountain pen is a lot more than the final line on the paper: is the nib smooth? How is the flow? Is the feed up to the challenge? Does the nib write on contact? How flexible is it? … None of those questions can be answered with a still picture of a writing sample.

Anyway, here I am publishing writing samples of some 2-fold nibs:

– Sailor Cross-music.

– Daiso's 100-yen pen with a 2-fold nib by Mr. Mochizuki.

– Ralph Reyes' 2-fold “concord” nib on a Kasama Una. Concord nibs, in Sailor terms, are nibs whose reverse writing is bold and juicy, and whose regular writing is lot more restrained.

So here they are. Interesting nibs? Certainly. Fun? Of course. Usable on a daily basis? Not all of them.

Penbbs 352 with Kanwrite nib – Noodler's Beaver

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 15th 2020
etiquetas: Plumín, Sailor, Mochizuki, nibmeister Ralph Reyes, nibmeister Nagahara

10 January 2020

2-Fold Nibs

I cannot say for sure that it was Nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara's idea on the first place, but certainly it was him who popularized the idea of two- and three-folded nibs with the support of Sailor.

Some early examples by him date back to the 1990s, as were reported on these pages.

An early Cross nib by Nobuyoshi Nagahara.

Those initial nibs later evolved into what we know today—open nibs with or without overfeed that made their way to the catalog of the brand and to commercial success.

Three generations of Cross nibs.

Then some nibmeisters copied this idea. Wagner-resident Yamada used Pelikan M800 as the base for his version.

Yamada's approach to a 2-fold nib-two overlapping Pelikan M800 nibs.

Wagner member Mr. Mochizuki, on his side, used a much more affordable canvas—a Chinese pen available at the 100-yen chain shop Daiso.

Mochizuki's approach based on a Daiso pen. A steel 2-fold nib.

Only recently, in the last couple of years, non-Japanese nibmeisters have attempted these two-fold nibs. The most brilliant of them, dare I say, is nib wizard Ralph Reyes of Regalia Writing Labs with his continuous development of old and new ideas. The nib here shows is a nice example of this—it is a cross-concord nib, in Sailor terms, with an overfeed; but the overfeed is made out of a third nib and is nicely integrated on the unit.

A 2-foold nib by Ralph Reyes based on JoWo #6 nibs.

My thanks to Inky.Rocks.

NOTE (16/January/2020): Writng samples of some of those nibs can be seen on the following Chronicle: https://estilofilos.blogspot.com/2020/01/2-fold-nibs-writing-samples.html

Opus 88 Koloro #6 – De Atramentis Beethoven

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 10th, 2020
etiquetas: Sailor, nibmeister Nobuyoshi Nagahara, Nibmeister Yamada, nibmeister Ralph Reyes, plumín, Mr. Mochizuki

08 January 2020

War (I)

In the pen realm many of us tend to forget the historical context to which each pen is born. We like to live in a sort of perfect world where the miseries of life, or of History, are somehow hidden in a dark background. At the same time, though, we use some historical landmarks to date pens, the most common of which is the pre-war/post-war label. War is just short for “early 1940s”, and few actually think of real meaning of the word war.

Then, History slaps on your face.

The following pen is a Platinum from 1940 with a very interesting and unique decoration in maki-e techniques: “Soldier going to Manchuria”, by Rosui, the headmaster of the maki-e craftsmen of Platinum's.

Not much to add to the caption. This pen was part of the exhibit organized by Platinum in January of 2019 at Itoya in Ginza to cellebrate its 100th anniversary.

Japan had invaded Manchuria in 1931, and created the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1932. This territory was a source of tensions as it was the Japanese base to invade China. Some scholars speak of the Marco Polo Incident (July 1937) and the Battle of Beiping-Tianjin as the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and even of the Second World War. Therefore, by 1940, after a number of conflicts with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of Mongolia, and China, the need for Japanese troops became urgent.

Close up of the soldier carrying the Japanese flag taken from one of the panels at the exhibit.

So, given this situation in Japan at the time, it is only natural to see patriotic motifs on these decorated pens.

And they remind us that pens are not alien to the historical moment in which they were created.

Parker 61 – Unknown blue-black ink

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, December 30th, 2019
etiquetas: Japón, Platinum, evento

04 January 2020

Retractable 2020

I finished 2019 saying that there had been very little new in Japan in the pen scene, and 2020 starts in a very different way.

On the last days of 2019 we saw Pilot marketing its latest variation on the Capless family—the Capless LS. Its novelty is a new mechanism to release the nib by a push button without making any noise. The nib units are the same as on the other members of the family. The LS is, in actual terms, a hybrid between the Capless-Décimo and the Fermo.

The Capless family (save variations on body color and trim) until this past December. Now there is a new model,the LS.

The newly released Capless LS.
Source: Pilot press release at https://www.pilot.co.jp/press_release/2019/12/06/post_60.html (retrieved on 4/Jan/2020).

And the price is also a combination of both the regular Capless –JPY 15000—and the Fermo –JPY 20000—: JPY 35000, plus taxes.

But more exciting news are those of Platinum's: this company will release its own version of a capless model in March of 2020. Its name will be “Curidas”, after the Japanese word “kuridasu” (繰り出す, くりだす)--to roll out.

This document has been published on a number of social media, including Facebook. Intentional leak?

The Curidas will be an inexpensive model –JPY 7000— aimed at the business market, according to the leaked leaflet, although some other sources speak of the student market.

The lineup includes five different body colors, all of them transparent. There will be two or three nib points on steel nibs. The pen clip will be detachable.

The big question is whether the nib is a totally new unit or an adaptation of one of the several steel nibs Platinum currently manufactures. The filtration (intentional?) did not go that far.

Pilot Short – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Kusatsu, January 3rd 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless, mercado