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When the Pen Community Shines

…and why I need to visit Japan again soon!

Over the last few months there have been a few incidents in the pen community where some negativity (and in most cases simple trolling) have prompted a few bloggers to question the worth or effort in the content they produce. It’s unfortunate that a few bad eggs can sour what is normally a very generous and helpful community. Over the past few weeks I have been very fortunate to have benefitted from this amazing generosity and I wanted to share that experience. I hope it shows how great we can be as a group when we help each other and that the blips of negativity are the edge case and not the norm.

Nagasawa Tarumi Apricot Fountain PenLast Fall I noticed a tweet from Nagasawa (@Nagasawa_den) – who have several stationary stores in the Kobe area of Japan. You may be familiar with their Kobe inks created in partnership with Sailor and themed around the Kobe area. They also have a stationary line of products called “Beside” with items ranging from pen cases to paper holders and desk accessories. The post that day mentioned the release of two new colors in their Beside fountain pen line (a variation on the Pro Gear Slim/Sapporo). One of the new colors was Tarumi Apricot – a beautiful yellow-orange and a match for their ink of the same color. I immediately went to try and purchase it but the online shop only ships to Japan. I tried their other online storefront on Rakuten.com next as they ship internationally but they were already sold out.

A few days passed and I noticed several folks on my Twitter feed posting pictures of the new pen colors. I mentioned how I had tried to get my hands on one with no success but hoped they may offer a second batch of pens at some point. One of my Japanese followers on Twitter (Sawako-san) sent me a message and mentioned that she went to Nagasawa monthly and would inquire next time she visited. A week or two passed and she reached out and let me know that there was a strong possibility for another release at some point soon. I kept my fingers crossed for a few months and about two weeks ago the second batch was released.  Unfortunately it sold out within minutes online – at this point I figured I was out of luck.

Kobe InksWhen I mentioned having missed out again Sawako said she would call and see if any were left in the Kobe stores. The next day she messaged me back that she was able to find one and got the store to hold it for a week until she was able to pick it up. Needless to say I was both excited and amazed at how much kindness she had shown in helping track down this pen.

At about the same time Nagasawa released two new Kobe inks based on the local Hydrangea plants native to Mt. Rokko – #56 Rokko Shichidanka (が六甲シチダンカ) and #57 Kobe Hime Hydrangea (神戸ヒメアジサイ です). I was curious if Sawako was going to pick up the new colors on her trip. She was excited about #57 and even offered to try and get me a bottle as well, which is difficult as the inks can sell out quickly.

Ink and PenAfter some fun conversations back and forth (luckily Sawako’s English is much better than my Japanese) she was off to Kobe. During her trip I got a message from her with a picture of the pen – that really made my day. A week later I had an EMS box from Japan on my steps and it was like a mini-Christmas. Inside was the new pen, both new inks, and some extra presents from Sawako including some Kobe ink bottle washi tape and a post-it pad featuring the Nagasawa nib design (oh and green tea Kit-Kat bars which are delicious!).

I’ll have a review of both the pen and inks soon, but they both pale in comparison to the amazing experience and new friend I have made. I think it’s acts like this and the fantastic reviews by folks out there like The Pen Habit, Gourmet Pens, The Pen Addict, On Fountain Pens, Leigh Reyes, SBREBrown, and Goulet Pens among many others that make the hobby fun, accessible, and inviting.

Below are some photos Sawako took on her trip to Kobe – featuring three of the Nagasawa stores – let the drooling commence!

 

Nagasawa Style of Life
Nagasawa SOL in Sannomiya (la lettre de Kobe)

 

The Fountain Pen display
Fountain pen case – the staff is wrapping my pen!

 

Nagasawa Tarumi Apricot Beside Pen
The Nagasawa exclusive “Beside” pen in Tarumi Apricot

 

Oh my god, it's full of inks!
Oh my god, it’s full of inks!

 

Helico fountain pens made by one craftsman living in Kagawa, Japan. That orange material is amazing!
Helico fountain pens made by one craftsman living in Kagawa, Japan. That orange material is amazing!

 

Nagasawa Brick Warehouse
Nagasawa Brick Warehouse

 

A beautiful torii, a gate at the entrance to a shrine. This torii is the gate of Ikta-Jinja (生田神社). That color is Ikuta Orange (生田オレンジ ) #11 in Kobe’s ink line.

 

2016-05-04_060854000_C6673_iOS
Sawako-san with Naoyuki Takeuchi (竹内直行), developer of Kobe ink.

 

Inside the Kobe Brick Warehouse store – I could spend hours in here!

 

2 thoughts on “When the Pen Community Shines

  1. Really, really enjoyed your post on these “secret” Sailors!! They’ve intrigued me for months, but I’m having so much trouble finding any info on them at all. I have managed to get the Morita Sky Blue one and love it, but would love to know what else is out there. Not finding much info on on the FB pen groups I’m in. Do you have any suggestions on how to track them down?
    Thank you very much.
    Best,
    Lee

    1. Hi Lee,
      Yea tracking them down is a pain. First is researching which stores get custom models from Sailor/Pilot/Platinum. Some stores don’t ship internationally so you need to get a middleman service like Tenso.com to issue you a Japanese address where the item will be shipped – they then turn around and ship to you. Some of the more popular stores are Nagasawa (https://kobe-nagasawa.co.jp/store/penstyle-den/), Joyful-2 (http://www.joyful-2.com/), Morita (http://morita.ne.jp/), Bung Box (http://bung-box.com/). The one place to check that some of these places sell through is Rakuten.co.jp – I know Nagasawa, Joyful-2 (through their Art & Craft Fan moniker) and a few others sell there (That’s where I snagged the Ltd. Edition Sailor Rhapsodie from Joyful-2).

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