Japan is one of the most prominent players in the modern fountain pen industry, and the pens manufactured by major Japanese brands are known for their focused craftsmanship.
Companies like Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum have a lot they bring to the table, including their incredible nibs, which are most often cited as the most distinguishing aspect of their detail-oriented manufacturing.
That's why I've compiled a list of seven Japanese fountain pens you should try at least once!
If you've never written with a Pilot Falcon, you should give it a shot! While these pens do have a decent color variety, the show's star is the nib. The Falcon nib looks unique compared to the traditional nib profile. This nib has no real shoulders; instead, it has a narrow, beak-like form and a sleekness that extends to the smooth feed. This embellished yet practical nib 14 karat gold nib also has a softness to it. When you use pressure on your downstrokes with the Falcon, the tines separate to create a wider line for you. Even if you don't use any pressure, the softness of the nib still gives you a flowy writing experience.
The Pilot E95s is one of my personal favorites because it provides a very comfortable writing experience and has a 14 karat nib like the Falcon. Although this nib isn't made to give you any line variation, it does bounce off of a page comfortably. If you've never written with a gold nib, I recommend trying this one. Not only is it the most affordable gold fountain pen nib that we have, but if you're upgrading to your first gold nib, purchasing this one would be money well spent.
There's some pretty stiff gold nibs out there, and some might make you wonder why there's so much hullabaloo surrounding them. That isn't the case with this pen. It has a great flow, and its moderate bounce provides you with a delightful experience. When capped, this pen is small and portable, and when it's posted there aren't any threads to get in the way of your fingers.
Sailor Medium Fine Nib
One well-known observation about Japanese pens is that their fine and extra-fine nib sizes are noticeably finer than those same sizes from Europe. For example, if you're looking for a Japanese pen that writes similar to a German-made LAMY pen with a fine nib, you might have to go up a size.
The Sailor medium-fine (MF) nib is an awesome Japanese nib that's a happy balance between medium and fine. This is oftentimes Sailor's most popular nib size, but there's other reasons why I love it so much. Sailor's nibs have a distinct feel to them while writing. They're not slippery-smooth, for one. When writing with the Sailor medium-fine nib, you may notice that these nibs have a bit of feedback to them, which is the feeling of texture you get when you're using it. We sometimes compare it to the feeling of a pencil, but of course even that can vary greatly.
The bottom line is, I think you should feel it for yourself. You might love it! You can find medium-fine nibs on most of Sailor's Pro Gear and 1911S, L and King of Pens model fountain pens which have tons of color options!
To help you compare nib sizes we have an online tool called the Nib Nook that lets you compare any nib size of every pen we have on our website.
Platinum is another Japanese fountain pen manufacturer that produces some excellent products – but none of it is more excellent than the Platinum Preppy. It's one of, if not the best-selling fountain pen in the world, having sold ten million since it launched in 2007. The Preppy writes exceptionally well, even if ink sits in it for long periods of time. For less than ten dollars, you get a solid writing experience. Plus, its spring-loaded inner cap keeps the Preppy ready to go whenever you need it.
Another popular feature of the Preppy is that it's easy to add an o-ring and some silicone grease to the threads and fill the barrel with ink, which makes the Preppy a great choice for weird or hard-to-clean inks.
Another affordable Japanese fountain pen is the Pilot Kaküno. At around fourteen dollars, its high-quality features parallel more expensive pens such as the Pilot Metropolitan, the Pilot Explorer, and the Pilot Prera. If you're looking to get a bang for your buck, the Kaküno is the right choice! It's been my go-to gift pen for the last couple of years because of its durability and consistent and reliable flow that Pilot is known for. Spend a little bit of time with a Kaküno and I think it'll surprise you. If it doesn't find its way into your personal arsenal of writing goodies, it still has tremendous value as a gift option!
Sailor King of Pens Nib
I haven't had many opportunities to write with Sailor's King of Pen nib. Upon hearing this, Brian Goulet grabbed my hand and said, "Drew you seriously need to try this now." Now, I'm telling you the same thing! Admittedly, this pen is the most difficult to casually encounter, but if you do get the chance to write with one, I'm certain you won't be disappointed.
The Sailor King of Pens has a large body but is surprisingly lightweight and very comfortable to write with. The large 21 karat gold King of Pen nib provides you with a bit of softness that's pretty uncommon for Sailor nibs, and the only primary models it's featured on are the 1911 and the Pro Gear.
Pilot Vanishing Point
Based on its popularity, there's a good chance that you've come across a Pilot Vanishing Point before. However, since it's so very different from traditional fountain pens, some folks look at it and decide it's not for them.
Many people think that the clip being positioned at the grip is going to give them an uncomfortable experience. More than likely, your fingers may not even touch the clip at all, depending on your grip. If they do, it might even feel secure and surprisingly comfortable! I've spoken to many people over the years who had a preconceived notion about this clip and later realized that it didn't bother them in the least. Of course, if you have this pen in your hand you've got to play with it. The retractable mechanism is solid, having been a reliable design for decades now.
Although the nib on the Vanishing Point may be tiny, this small 18 karat gold nib is a delight and extraordinarily consistent.
Thanks for my list of the best Japanese pens! If you have any questions, make sure to contact our Customer Care team. Have fun, write on!