White for an Asian Christmas

 

Some things do look better in white.
Some things do look better in white.

I wanted to gift myself with a Nakaya for Christmas 2013 but since you don’t always find what you want on the shelves in December, I placed my order in May and let both time and lay-away do their work.  Not long after November ended, I was extracting a blue silk kimono from a telltale Paulownia box.

Unboxed and waiting for its first fill. Leigh's Carbon Graphite Piccolo insisted on joining the fun.
Unboxed and waiting for its first fill. Leigh’s Carbon Graphite Piccolo insisted on joining the fun.

Most of Nakaya’s pens are offered either as Writers (with clips or roll stoppers,) or Cigars (clipless.) Only one thus far is exclusively available as a Writer – the Neo Standard.  This model came to be around 2009 when a German client placed a bespoke order. Very shortly thereafter, it became a regular and rather successful offering. In standard dress, it is confidently elegant. Lavished with maki-e art such as the Nine Tailed Fox or the Ascending Dragon, it makes the heart skip a few beats.

Taken alongside a heki tamenuri Naka-Ai. Shiro is noticeably brighter.
Taken alongside a heki tamenuri Naka-Ai. Shiro is noticeably brighter.

Many of its traits are undeniably Nakaya: the deep Wajima urushi gloss, the smartly peaked ends, and the signature border-cut pocket clip. But if you look hard enough, you’ll see Western influences shaping its silhouette.

Section shapes and sizes compared.
Section shapes and sizes compared.

The section is distinct from the variants that preceded it. On pens like the Piccolo, Long Piccolo, Portable and even the more recent Naka-Ai, the sections are identical in shape, length and girth. The Neo’s is long, visibly more tapered, and quite accommodating of chunky fingers. Friends who prefer the handling of Western brands have found the Neo Standard easy to approach.

The Neo's cap is slightly longer. The pink gold trim is a subtle departure from the standard yellow gold fittings.
The Neo’s cap is slightly longer. The pink gold trim is a subtle departure from Nakaya’s standard yellow gold fittings.

Shiro tamenuri is not an easy finish to express. The white base takes skill and patience to render, as natural urushi is never perfectly white. Instead, it ranges from a slightly off-white tone to a more custard hue. This natural variation paints a broad range of possibility. Some samples will sport a terra-cotta glow while others will be like flan. Each Nakaya is in itself unique, but the shiro tamenuri pieces are even more so.

The nib is a Soft Medium. It initially dragged a bit during anticlockwise strokes, but a month of daily use soothed that minor ache. This is not a flex nib and it doesn’t have to be. It is entertaining in use and provides a subtle gateway to the nuances of flex and hand pressure. With a bit of coaxing, it will kiss the limits of a Western Medium while absent any stress, it lays down delicately fine lines.

Writing samples done on the fly. The Soft Medium can flex just a bit more, but I decided not to push it.
Writing samples done on the fly. The Soft Medium can flex just a bit more, but I decided not to push it.

December in Paris or New Year’s in Times Square may be chic ways to savor winter. I’ll take this over snow any time.

It really was the most wonderful year!
It really was the most wonderful year!

(Pardon the less than stellar pictures. I used an HTC One to take the photos.)

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2 thoughts on “White for an Asian Christmas

  1. Kevin A.

    Mr. Tatad, I try very hard to convince myself on a day to day basis that I do NOT truly need a bespoke Nakaya pen. This blog post only served to crumble my resolve: congratulations XD

    Seriously though, the photos are okay, and I’m not just saying that because I also use an HTC One (haha)! Say, out of curiosity, is your phone affected by the purple fringing problem?

    Cheers!

    • Karlo Tatad

      It isn’t exactly bespoke. Nakaya released quite a few pens in this color some years ago, one of them being the FPN Friendship Piccolo. Shiro tamenuri is also a popular base color for their exquisite Negoro Nuri models.

      If a dealer has what you want in stock, you’re in luck. Otherwise, Nakaya builds pens as they are ordered. Six months lead time is typical so I thought I’d take advantage of the wait to spec a color not often seen these days.

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