A Naka-Ai comes knocking

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Nakaya’s following is built on a keenly curated selection. So when they launch a new model, news travels quickly and anticipation swells exponentially.

Such is the case of the Naka – Ai, a John Mottishaw and Shinichi Yoshida collaboration. Announced in June 2012, the first batch of pens became available only in Fall of that year. Nakaya loyalists (and neophytes too) devoured that run with ruthless gusto. Not bad for a freshly minted offering.

Its storied pedigree did much to fuel that demand . But for all its celebrated origins, only actual use can prove if it honors its distinguished roots.

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Pardon the dust. (And the lack of SnapSeed prowess.)

The grafting of a Piccolo cap and section to a reduced Desk Pen barrel casts a unique silhouette. It takes a few moments to grow on you but even if it does not, the hand refutes what the eyes dismiss.

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Barrel profiles compared. From top to bottom: Naka-Ai, Neo Standard, Long Piccolo

The controversial taper eagerly reveals its purpose. The barrel settles into hand’s web with ease. Through the collections of friends, I have tried all the shapes that Nakaya currently make. I am partial to the Decapod, the Twist and the Long Piccolo, but this is the only one that felt like an old glove from first touch.

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The Naka-Ai spends time with its Twist-ed kinsman. The tones of their heki tamenuri finishes are identical.
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The heki on the ca. 2009 Neo Standard (right) is darker than that on the Naka-Ai.
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I see green! Lots of it!

On this Naka – Ai, the top coat is cafe au lait in hue. In contrast, the older heki tamenuri models I’ve handled were closer to a dark espresso. The celadon undertones are also better revealed in this current expression of a staple Nakaya finish.

John Mottishaw shaped a 0.6mm stub from an unplated gold Broad. It is very easy to handle at speed. Rather than punish you for clumsy technique, it leads you to the sweet spot and provides clear hints when success is close at hand. Only a saint could be more forgiving.

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Iridium was shaved and shaped until a stub emerged.
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Bad lighting does no justice to a great nib.

There may not be many Naka-Ais circulating just yet. I am certain this will change very soon.

(Thanks to Leigh for lending the Long Piccolo, Neo Standard and Decapod Twist for the photos.)

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