They only made 90 of these. And I’m very sorry to say that I think they are sold out.
I’d like to say it’s ugly and awful, so people don’t feel bad. But honestly, it’s amazing. It’s attractive, it’s whimsical and it’s fun.
Now, sure, if you hate those things, it’s awful.
Here it is standing up at a jaunty angle. Because, looks and talent.
The pen comes with a matching bottle of ink, helpfully labeled Shooting Star of Jonuma in English and Japanese. My Google Translate renders the Japanese as “Meteor,” which is less poetic, but more menacing, so I’m down for either one.
Both pen and ink honor the 90th anniversary of a temple near Tatebayashi City in Gunma Prefecture, about an hour outside Tokyo, where the store that sold this is located. The pen material is meant to suggest the starlit sky above the Jonuma marsh in Tatebayashi. It looks like a beautiful place.
The material is indeed starry, and the color is a beautiful deep greenish teal that’s transparent in a non-distracting way. I love a transparent pen, and I love a pen with sparkles.
And then there are these wonderful white end caps. It’s like another dollop of lovely excess. You have your ice cream, you have your hot fudge but, yes, we also are going to give you whipped cream, nuts and a cherry on top.
For the more serious, the white end cap at the top is also useful, making the pen easy to find in my pen cup.
Best of all, this is the full-size Professional Gear. I know that Sailor has been using similar transparent and sparkly materials for special edition pens in Japan, but every pen I had come across was only in the smaller Professional Gear Slim size, which I find too small. The full-size Shooting Star is perfect for me.
I hope the future will bring more, so everyone who wants can have a pen like this.
In the meantime, it looks like you can still buy the ink on Rakuten. I can muster exactly as much enthusiasm about this ink as it takes to type: oh look, everyone, it’s another blue-green ink.
And having this beautiful pen means I’ve been spending time with a Sailor medium-fine (MF) nib for the first time in years.
A medium-fine wouldn’t have been my choice, but I didn’t have a choice: the pen was only offered with that size nib. The nib is even numbered to match the pen. So medium-fine it is.
Sailor nibs generally follow the Japanese nib-width standard, which we can broadly generalize (for gold nibs) as being about one size narrower than the same width in a Western nib. Keep in mind that gold nibs are ground by hand, so there’s always variance. But as a rule of thumb, with gold nibs a Japanese fine is roughly equivalent to a standard Western extra-fine, while a Japanese medium is akin to a standard Western fine.
Where does that leave the Sailor medium-fine? It’s wider than a Sailor fine and narrower than a Sailor medium, sure, but if you’re used to Western nibs, what does that mean?
Here’s what I’d say: it’s basically a Sailor fine, but just a tiny bit wider. (A Sailor fine, after Thanksgiving dinner.) So if you want a nib that’s fine, but aren’t sure you want super fine, you’d probably feel very comfortable with the Sailor medium-fine. And you’d still get a very fine nib.
I suspect that’s the primary reason Sailor offers a medium-fine — to appeal to customers. But I also like to think that Sailor developed the medium-fine just because they could. Sailor are nib masters, and they can pull off tricks like this with aplomb, splitting the tiny difference between their fine and medium like Roger Federer threading an inside-out forehand perfectly down the line.
I will admit that in the past I was a scoffer about the Sailor medium-fine. “Why not just have a real fine,” I’d grumble. And then sell it.
To me, finer is better. In fact, my perfect nib is the Sailor fine. Or maybe now the Sailor extra-fine, which has become my most-used work writer.
But for the last week I’ve been using this Sailor medium-fine. And just yesterday, I even tried a second medium-fine, from someone in my pen club. And I have to admit, it’s actually a fairly narrow nib.
Let’s compare my Sailor medium-fine with my Sailor fine and extra-fine. The MF ink is Waterman Serenity Blue (standard blue ink); the F is Sailor Shikiori Yodaki (maroon ink); and the EF is Papier Plume Da Blue (blue black ink).
Here are the three Sailor nibs on Staples Sustainable Earth paper.
Here are the three Sailor nibs on Kokuyo paper.
And here are the three Sailor nibs on Clairefontaine.
You can see that the medium-fine is wider than the fine, but not by much. The difference is very small, especially in contrast to the difference between the extra-fine and fine. (Ink does come into play, and the ink in the Sailor fine, Sailor Yodaki, is the wettest and most lubricated of these three — but not by that much.)
Now let’s compare to pens outside the Sailor universe. Here are writing samples of the Sailor medium-fine versus a Jowo fine, on my Brooks Charleston, and a Montblanc LeGrand extra-fine. The Sailor MF ink is still Waterman Serenity Blue; the Montblanc EF has Caran d’Ache Idyllic Blue; and the Jowo fine has Da Atramentis Sherlock Holmes.
First are the three pens on Staples Sustainable Earth.
Now the three pens on Kokuyo paper.
Now the three pens on Clairefontaine.
The Sailor medium-fine is similar to the Montblanc extra-fine. The Jowo fine is about the same, but slightly wider. A lot of people used to modern Western nibs would consider the Sailor medium-fine essentially an extra-fine.
So yeah. I’ve realized that the Sailor medium-fine is … just fine.
Maybe I’ve gotten more relaxed about the whole thing. We are just talking about nib width, after all. But also, it occurs to me that when I buy a pen with a modern Western nib I usually choose a fine nib anyway. That’s a comfortable nib: fine enough for everyday writing and easy to use. The Sailor medium-fine hits the same sweet spot.