Pilot Namiki Togidashi Hira Double Crane Maki-e Fountain Pen Review

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The Namiki Togidashi Hira Double Crane in a box, with a bottle of Pilot ink

What an honour I have again, to review a pen of a friend. This time, it’s a really delightful pen with a long name — the Namiki Togidashi Hira Double Crane Maki-e fountain pen! This pen was loaned to me by Siew Hong for the purpose of this review.

The pen comes with a bottle of Pilot ink, nicely wrapped in plastic. The velvet-covered huge box has a very elegant-looking creased gold cloth lining inside, where the pen rests and where there is a depression to fit the Pilot bottled ink into. This velvety pen box rests in turn inside a white cardboard box, that has a very nice textured cover. Talk about awesome packaging, something the Japanese are really good at!

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Behold the awesome textured outer cardboard box

On the pen is a picture of two cranes, that’s why it’s named Double Crane (双鹤), of course. Siew Hong loves Japanese cranes (which you will learn about in the short interview below), and it’s no wonder he felt the need to own this one! The artwork is simple but elegant. I will let you feast your eyes on a few close-up photos to follow:

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Look at the individual strokes of colour making up the crane’s body

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With specks of gold dust scattered in style around the barrel and cap

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This is the Art Craft Togidashi Hira range of maki-e fountain pen by Namiki

As you may guess, this is a rather expensive fountain pen (at least, expensive in my own terms), so imagine my horror when I thought I had lost the package that contained this fountain pen! I found it soon after I thought I lost it: it was left behind in my friend’s car. It was the very day we had the SFPL January fountain pen meet, where there was utter chaos, and I needed to run around just to settle the venue because there was a huge misunderstanding. Long story. I bet Siew Hong is never going to lend me anymore pens in future when he reads about this. 🙁 Note to self: if I’m ever going to borrow fountain pens, tie them securely to myself and bring them straight home, immediately!

I’ll give my two cents’ about the pen before sharing what Siew Hong tells us in the mini interview. This pen is a large cigar-shaped fountain pen, although definitely not as thick in diameter as the actual cigar pens that Pilot/Namiki produces. This black body fountain pen’s artwork is done using the Togidashi maki-e technique, where the design is painted with lacquer material, and gold dust is sprinkled over the pen. After the lacquer dries, another layer of coating is applied to fix the gold dust to the body, and then burnished with charcoal and a bit of water until the gold shows through the lacquer. The end result is a very smooth and glossy lacquered body of the pen, which unfortunately attracts dust easily – but with this precious pen, I guess one would bring a cloth along with it to polish off the dust!

The nib here is an 18K gold fine Pilot nib with nice embellishments. The filling system makes use of a Con-70 converter, which is a button filler and has a little agitator inside. You can see the nib and converter in the photos below:

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I’m so pleased with this photograph I took, that I imagine it may almost qualify as a magazine or catalogue photo! 😛

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Look at how fine the fine nib is! It tapers all the way to a sharp point

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The button filler of the Con-70 converter, which has a gold word saying “Push” (and a directional arrow). That’s how you fill the pen: by pushing the button repeatedly until the converter is full

A beautiful pen is useless if it doesn’t write well. As Siew Hong has told me, pens are made to be written with, so he gave me the go-ahead to ink this pen and write with it. Despite the fine point, I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness it provides! Being a fine nib it is close to impossible to be buttery-smooth, but it doesn’t catch on the paper, doesn’t skip (great ink flow), doesn’t feel scratchy, gives a little bit of feedback, but that’s about all! Awesome nib to go with a beautiful pen, I must say!

The ink I used was Sailor Jentle Four Seasons Doyou (Midsummer), which is a very dark brown, so dark that it is almost black. You can see in the writing sample below that the nib is pretty stiff and does not give line variations while writing.

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Vital information:

  • 14.3cm capped
  • 13cm uncapped
  • 15.7cm posted
  • Screw cap, unscrews very silently!
  • 18K gold fine nib

I’ve asked Siew Hong 3 questions about his fountain pens, here is the response:

Me: Why did you buy this pen?

SH: I have a fondness for all things Japanese crane. This pen is in fact not the first Tsuru maki-e that I own. I have previously bought 2 on eBay and on both occasions, I have given them away as birthday presents to friends who admired them so much.

Therefore, this time around, I have bought this pen and am determined to keep it for myself.

Me: You mentioned this is your semi-grail pen. Which pen is your grail pen and why?

SH: My grail pen is a Nakaya with a silver Panda rolling stopper and a Mottishaw Spencerian grind. Which Nakaya? I am still not decided. I want them all!! But I am particularly partial to the following:

  • Aka-tamenuri
  • Kuro-tamenuri
  • String rolled Shiro-tamenuri
  • Enjoying the Moon Cat

Me: Which fountain pens do you carry for everyday use?

SH: For my EDCs, I am partial to the Platinum Cools. I have 3 – the blue, the pink and the clear demonstrators. The blue is for my blue inks, the pink for the red inks and the clear for everything else – so that I can see the colour of the current fill – grey, purple etc

Well, you are a really kind soul, Siew Hong (for lending me this pen and for helping me out on a friend’s trouble a couple of years back), so I’m sure your dream of getting your Nakaya grail pen will come true very quickly!

3 Responses

  1. Delia Z. 1 December 2015 / 6:29 AM

    What a gorgeous pen

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