A Literary Crawl Through the World of Nakaya Fountain Pens

Nakaya Naka-ai Unpolished Shu and Piccolo Polished Shu

Shu and Unpolished Shu.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every fountain pen fan past the beginner stage must be in need of a Nakaya.

I didn’t exactly help myself resist the pull of the Nakaya. At the Chicago Pen Show, I spent a lot of time at the Classic Fountain Pens table, because Jessica is awesome. But there were Nakaya testers at the table. Given that … it only makes sense that I had to try every nib, and every pen model, more than once. After all, there might come a day when someone might need me to buy a Nakaya. So I should be ready when called upon.

In this fantasy, I settled on the model Naka-ai with a finish of Unpolished Shu, and I was thinking about a stub with flex. Those were so nice, both to use and to look at.

And then, a few months later, a pen flogger of my acquaintance had a used Naka-ai in Unpolished Shu at the DC Pen Show. What could I do? What could anyone do?

That became Nakaya Number Two. It has a spectacular double broad nib, to which Classic Pens had added flex and a stub grind. The nib is divine, and easy to use. Nearly everyone who uses this pen loves writing with it, including me. I also love how it looks: Unpolished Shu is matte, elegant and understated, and the shape of the Naka-ai is attractive.

Nakaya Naka-ai Unpolished Shu

If you are familiar with Pride and Prejudice, you will know that our heroine originally dismissed her first suitor because he acted like a conceited ass and also tried to wreck her sister’s life, which, to be fair, are not good qualities in a person. And he had a bad reputation in the neighborhood. Instead she was taken with a charming fellow with a pleasing disposition and excellent manners, whom everyone liked. Until circumstances eventually brought her to a fuller view, and made her realize she’d misjudged some important things.

In this story, I am her. While I was looking at all the Nakayas, I blew right by one model, the Piccolo, on the grounds that it was a little small. I also must have missed entirely the Polished Shu finish.

Enter Nakaya Number Three, a Piccolo in Polished Shu with fine nib. This Nakaya I found online, after being tipped by a friend.

I did intend to give the Piccolo in Polished Shu just a slot or two on my dance card, after which I knew I could sell it onwards. Remember: I knew I was safe. I had tried the Piccolo at the Pen Show, so I already knew it was just too small. I’d read that on the internet, too, years ago. So it must be true.

Unfortunately, when I got to know the Piccolo in Polished Shu better, I realized I’d been misled. Leading to the next book on our syllabus:

Nakaya Naka-ai Unpolished Shu and Piccolo Polished Shu

One Hundred Years of Insolvency.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when he opened his browser.

The truth is, by the end of the Chicago Pen Show, I should have stopped buying all pens. It still would have been a very successful year in pens, and a very spendy one. But that was the first weekend in May. These Nakayas came into my life months later. And in the meantime, there may have been a few other pens, too. Which we do not need to talk about, or mention, or even acknowledge.

Hence, the firing squad.

So, I’m going to sell the pair of Shu’s.

That will leave me with none — but faithful readers certainly will breathe a sigh of relief when I can no longer employ that particular pun.

Nothing is forever, except perhaps memories. Which brings me to the next book.


Last night I dreamt I went back to the Decapod again.

I still may keep the pair of Shu’s for a few weeks, until the Ohio Pen Show. But I already miss the Decapod. Its finish was Shiro Tamenuri, a warm brown over a warm tan, which is so beautiful I wish Nakaya hadn’t discontinued it.

In a fun coincidence, by the way, I met a great woman at San Francisco who had a Nakaya in the replacement finish, called Toki Tamenuri, which is very nice, but not the same as the Shiro.

Nakaya Decapod Shiro Tamenuri

Odds are I’ll never come across another Decapod in Shiro Tamenuri. And I knew that. I kept saying, “If that had any other nib, I would sell everything else and just keep it.”

And okay, sure the “sell everything else” part is hyperbole. Or, if you’re cutting me a break, poetic license. But I would have sold a bunch of pens for that Decapod, including my new Sailor. And I probably couldn’t have bought the Pelikan M600 Vibrant Orange.

Would that have been better?

Moby Pen.

Call me Ishmael.

You know what? It would not have been better.

I’m grateful I got to experience that beautiful pen. But there will be new experiences.

Which reminds me of something.

Adventures of Huckleberry Pen.

I reckon I got to light out for the Territory.

None of this looking back, or even staying in place. I have the Pelikan Vibrant Orange on the horizon. A new adventure.

The Great Folly.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the pen cup.

Nakayas Three.

All this happened, more or less.

Nakaya Naka-ai Unpolished Shu


This piece steals from, no pays tribute to, sorry, is inspired by A Tale of Two Cities, Pride and Prejudice, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Rebecca, Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse Five. 

20 thoughts on “A Literary Crawl Through the World of Nakaya Fountain Pens

  1. Great post! And you are so right, regardless of how beautiful they are (and those are), a glorious pen still has to perform. I have often looked at my writing with an expensive pen and saw it was trailing off into unintelligible signs, and in my hand, many have appeared to become perversely animated, and to go wrong and crooked, and to stop, and splash.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re going to sell your pair of Shus and be left with no Nakayas? Horrors! How could we let our heroine suffer so?

    Bring them by my table at the Ohio Show. I’ll have 10 or 12 Nakayas there including a Decapod and a Decapod Twist on which you might like the nibs. Perhaps we could arrange a trade? That way you’re not actually using money to buy a Nakaya, right?

    Only trying to help!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you!

      And for the excellent Odyssey allusion! I wish I’d thought of that! Though obviously I was dashed on the rocks, never to see Ithaca’s shores. But there’s still time to save yourself. Remember Dante: “Abandon hope, ye who enter here.”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Why didn’t you just change the nib on that Decapod? I thought most Nakayas had the same sized nib one could easily swap out? You surely would have found someone to change nibs with…


    1. No. Nakaya has gone through two nib, feed and section designs, and they are not interchangeable. So there’s no guarantee I could have swapped nibs. Not to mention the expense and time. So I chose not to pursue that.


      1. Thanks, didn’t know that. I’ll keep it in mind if I ever have the chance to get a Nakaya. But first I’d have to hold one in hand, which is (hopefully) not going to happen soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this, if only for the literary references. The Nakayas do nothing for me on screen and I hope I never meet one in real life that tries to change my mind. I’ve never really believed that other literary reference – ‘tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I love that Decapod. It is beautiful, but I understand about the fact that it’s no good having a beautiful pen that you don’t like writing with. You were still brave to let it go though…..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was just too crisp an italic for my horrible handwriting. The buyer, however, made it sing, and he is an amazing artist and great guy. It was meant for him, not me.

      But, yes: sob. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  6. An absolutely brilliant post – insightful, humorous, filled with all that buttery, literary ambiance. Almost makes me forget you bought that horrid orange pen. Zounds!

    Liked by 3 people

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