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View Full Version : Nakaya Naka-Ai in Heki-Tamenuri



drgoretex
May 2nd, 2013, 08:55 AM
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7788_zps3b9e8e53.jpg

Here's one that I have been meaning to review for a few months now. I picked this up last fall from Classic Fountain Pens (Nibs.com), and had a bit of an adventure along the way, which I will get to.

First Impressions: 10/10. The long awaited parcel - I ordered this pen before they were actually available, so had a bit of a wait on my hands. This, as many of you will already know, only increases the anticipation. The pen comes in a lovely softwood box, one that all Nakaya fans will be familiar with. The box is marked in Kanji with 'Nakaya Fountain Pen company' and 'Luxury Fountain Pen' (feel free to correct my rough translation). The pen came inside a cool little protective sleeve, and a small box of cartridges were included. Opening the sleeve to pull out the pen was like magic - the beautiful translucent brown over the green undercoat has such a gorgeous 'organic' look to it. My wife's first comment was that it 'looked like a teapot' - and indeed, the urushi does have a similar look to the glaze of pottery. Anyhow, love at first sight. The urushi finish is absolutely beautiful.
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7781_zps0fad8252.jpg

Size and weight: 10/10. No marks off here. I am not as big a fan of longer pens, of which this is one - but I can't hold that against the Naka-Ai, as I knew this when I bought it. Despite my bias, I really like this pen's dimensions. Unposted, it is a wonderful size to write with, and sits very comfortably in the hand. Makes you want to keep finding excuses to pick it up. I won't comment on 'posted', because I don't with this pen, and it doesn't post very effectively anyway.
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7786_zpse170e5f2.jpg

Construction Quality: 7/10 While the threading is very good, and the nib section excellent in construction quality, one thing I did notice that bothers me, and that seems to come up not uncommonly with these pens, is that that the cap finial doesn't quite match the diameter of the cap where they meet. There is a slight step. I don't mean that the finial is off-centre, and that adjusting it would fix the problem - I mean that they are two different diameters. OK, the step is small, but this is a pen worth over $600 (after customs), and I would really expect more attention to this kind of detail.
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7795_zps67b12a2d.jpg

Filling system: 10/10. The filling system is cart/converter, which is my personal fave. Even if it weren't my fave, I wouldn't take marks off for this, as I knew it was cart/converter when I bought it.
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7796_zpsa396ab2a.jpg

The nib: initially 2/10, now 9/10. Here is where the adventure began. I filled the nib with my usual write-test ink, Pelikan Royal Blue, and found that it just wouldn't run to the tipping. The pen would not write. So, no biggie - I gave it a gentle soapy rinse, checked the tines (to find a huge gap at the tipping), adjusted the tines slightly to bring them closer together. No joy. The ink would run to end of the feed, and stop cold. If I coaxed it by running my finger along the slit, I could get the ink to the tip, and write a short line, and then the ink would pull back. After working with this nib for some time, I finally contacted Classic Fountain Pens, and got some pretty excellent tips from John Mottishaw (I have to say, customer support was full-out excellent). But even after trying these tips, I had to admit defeat. I mean, I can get a nib to work, as a rule. But this was the first and only nib (out of many hundreds) that has ever completely defeated me. Fortunately, the good folks at CFP were very accommodating, and upon hearing of my utter failure with this nib, they offered to replace the feed. Mr Mottishaw installed one of the newer feeds that Nakaya is using, one that flows better. And, BOOM - with that new feed, the pen was transformed into an excellent writer. The nib is a broad nib, and writes a nice, smooth broad line, as it should.
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7791_zpsc12c13ef.jpg

Edit: Adding a requested writing sample. Darn, it was such a chore to ink up my Naka-Ai... ;)
http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd231/kcavers/IMG_7829_zps31b0f378.jpg

Price: 8/10. The pen cost $550, but was over $600 after customs. Given the step at the finial and the nib issues, I would have expected better for this price. Still, the urushi work on the pen is excellent.

Overall: 9/10. Yes, there were some small irksome things. The nib was a pain, but I suspect that was a freak problem, unlike to show up in another pen. And, the customer service in working on this and ultimately replacing it, was truly excellent. All in all, I know this will not be my last Nakaya (and I definitely will be back to CFP at Nibs.com for more awesome pens).

Thanks for reading this (or just looking at the pics, whatever :))

Cheers,

Ken

matveik
May 2nd, 2013, 09:06 AM
What a beautiful pen. Thanks for the great pictures too! I'm glad to hear that you sorted out the nib issues. I would think that's really anomalous with both Nakaya and CFP.

Pterodactylus
May 2nd, 2013, 12:29 PM
Thanks for showing this nice pen.

Personally I have a problem with CC pens in that price category.
As a 2,5€ filling system does not fit for me to a several 100€ pen.

Can you please also post writing samples?
I'm very keen to see how the nib performs.

For me in a pen review without writing samples a major part is missing.

ethernautrix
May 2nd, 2013, 01:40 PM
It is soooo disappointing when an expensive pen has problems. Ugh! I am glad that you got the nib fixed to your satisfaction (am not at all surprised about nibs.com's customer service).

Beautiful pen! My Naka-ai doesn't seem as long as it is. I wonder if you experience the same optical illusion or if it does look to be as long as it is.

In any case, beautiful pen and great photos!

drgoretex
May 2nd, 2013, 02:06 PM
What a beautiful pen. Thanks for the great pictures too! I'm glad to hear that you sorted out the nib issues. I would think that's really anomalous with both Nakaya and CFP.

I suspect you are right. Definitely not an issue with CFP - they were excellent from start to finish.

Thanks for showing this nice pen.

Personally I have a problem with CC pens in that price category.
As a 2,5 filling system does not fit for me to a several 100 pen.

Can you please also post writing samples?
I'm very keen to see how the nib performs.

For me in a pen review without writing samples a major part is missing.

Writing sample added as requested.


It is soooo disappointing when an expensive pen has problems. Ugh! I am glad that you got the nib fixed to your satisfaction (am not at all surprised about nibs.com's customer service).

Beautiful pen! My Naka-ai doesn't seem as long as it is. I wonder if you experience the same optical illusion or if it does look to be as long as it is.

In any case, beautiful pen and great photos!

Thanks very much. Interesting illusion, now that you mention it. Must have to do with the taper...

Ken

Laura N
May 2nd, 2013, 03:35 PM
Thank you for this excellent review and great pictures. I love to window shop. :)

Pterodactylus
May 2nd, 2013, 03:41 PM
Thanks for adding the sample :)

Looks really good, I like your handwriting.
The nib with the heart hole looks really good, the heart reminds me to various vintage nibs.
How stiff is the nib?
I guess it is not a real nail as I can see some discreet line variations.

The color changes are nice, looks like glazed ceramic.

Enjoy your new pen, in a couple of months you will have almost forgotten that the nib/feed made such problems at the beginning.

drgoretex
May 2nd, 2013, 07:32 PM
Thanks for adding the sample :)
The nib with the heart hole looks really good, the heart reminds me to various vintage nibs.
How stiff is the nib?
I guess it is not a real nail as I can see some discreet line variations.

No, you are quite right. The nib is quite soft, has a bit of flex to it, though I tend not to exercise the flex as some like to.

Ken

jde
May 3rd, 2013, 10:26 AM
Ken,
Your photographs are wonderful. The heki-tamenuri is very striking in most every Nakaya I've seen it in.

I appreciate, too, your insights about the cap finial, and how you think it should fit together.

So glad you got the nib resolved. I remember your posting about how disappointing the nib was when you received it. Fascinating that a new feed was the answer! A bum nib/writing experience = a bum pen, no matter how handsome or hand-worked, or even what the cost, ay?

Thanks for sharing!
--Julie

earthdawn
May 3rd, 2013, 03:16 PM
Beautiful pictures and glad to hear it all worked out.

Man I wish I could just try the Naka-Ai to see how the section feels compared to the Neo Standard I love so much.

heraclitus682
May 3rd, 2013, 11:02 PM
Would you be able to post a pic of the new feed? You say it is new. Do you know if it is the feed that Platinum is putting on the 3776 Century pens?

Susan3141
May 4th, 2013, 12:26 PM
I have the exact same beautiful pen. And I had the same flow issues. My nib is an oblique broad, ground between a CI and a stub and it has added flex. When I got it, initially it wrote great, until the ink from dipping it into the ink bottle ran out. I had skipping problems. If I paused, even for a seconds I'd have to draw circles to get the ink going. Back to Classic Pens it went, and John replaced the feed and all is well. My Naka-ai now writes like a dream.

soot
May 4th, 2013, 01:47 PM
The more I look at the picture, the more I think I could get used to the shape of the pen. Perhaps-- and only perhaps-- I will have to get one to find out. XD

carlc
May 7th, 2013, 03:52 AM
Personally I have a problem with CC pens in that price category.
As a 2,5€ filling system does not fit for me to a several 100€ pen.



A lot of people seem to have that issue (and I can understand it) - personally I quite like c/c fill pens.

In the case of Nakaya's I suspect this is probably due to the way they are manufactured - I can't imagine it would be easy to engineer a blind cap that didn't mar the aesthetics of the pen. I'm always surprised by these pens as when I look at the photos I keep thinking they are made out of pottery.

carl

AlejoPlay
May 7th, 2013, 09:20 AM
I want! That is all! :)

de_pen_dent
May 13th, 2013, 08:40 AM
I am looking at another Nakaya sometime later this year, and I have to say - I am sold on the heki-tamenuri. I dont know how different this pen is going to be, compared to my Neo Standard in aka-tamenuri, but regardless of which model i get, it is going to be heki-tamenuri fo sho.

Lovely review!

snedwos
May 14th, 2013, 04:42 AM
Beautiful pictures and glad to hear it all worked out.

Man I wish I could just try the Naka-Ai to see how the section feels compared to the Neo Standard I love so much.

Supposedly the Naka-Ai is a hybrid between the piccolo and the desk pen. So I think it has the same section as the desk pen, which you already own.

As for C/C: Well, I prefer not to have to take a pen apart to refill it, and I prefer filling systems that automatically prime the feed. Capacity isn't a concern for me.

Converters fulfil one of these criteria, and I don't see how piston, lever of vacuum-fillers would work well with the Urushi work. Maybe lever-fill would be OK, actually.

The Naka-ai is near the top of my list, whatever the filling system!

Flake
May 14th, 2013, 06:00 AM
That's such a beautiful pen. I keep finding myself drooling over it.

ethernautrix
May 14th, 2013, 10:23 AM
Supposedly the Naka-Ai is a hybrid between the piccolo and the desk pen.

This is what John Mottishaw told me before the pen was finished; he said that I would be seeing a pen that combines my two favorites models.

When I saw the pictures, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. But it is a very comfortable pen in my hand, and -- mine is the aka tamenuri -- it so beautiful.

jor412
May 14th, 2013, 05:21 PM
Such a beautiful pen and as Flake said, worthy of drool. A Nakaya in heki-tamenuri is my dream pen. I'm just not sure whether I prefer the Naka-ai or the Portable. I like the Naka-ai's size; I like the Portable's shape.

snedwos
May 14th, 2013, 05:40 PM
Such a beautiful pen and as Flake said, worthy of drool. A Nakaya in heki-tamenuri is my dream pen. I'm just not sure whether I prefer the Naka-ai or the Portable. I like the Naka-ai's size; I like the Portable's shape.

I'll take one of each, thanks. And a Decapod Twist and a Desk Pen.

jor412
May 16th, 2013, 02:51 AM
How I wish I could. :p