Nakaya Neo Standard
in Kuro Tamenuri Finish
– Handwritten Review –
- Description: The Nakaya Neo Standard Writer (with clip) fountain pen is one of my grail pens that I recently purchased. Hand made in Japan.
- Nib: 14k gold, Soft-Medium nib adjusted by John Mottishaw of Nibs.com
- Material: Ebonite with urushi lacquer in kuro tamenuri (black over deep red)
- Filling Mechanism: Cartridge/converter system
- Weight: ~28.8 grams filled
- Measurements: 5.92″ closed, 7.00″ posted, 5.38″ unposted, 0.59″ barrel diameter, 0.41″ section diameter
- Ink Capactiy: ~0.5ml
- Price: $550 from Nibs.com
Handwritten Review Scans:
Well, I’m finally getting around to formally reviewing the pen after having it for about two months. Did I mention that this was my number one grail pen? Well, now I have it. Finally. I sold a bunch of other pens from my collection, and I’ve been saving up for a while. $550 isn’t an easy price to swallow, but I’m glad I finally got the pen. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with Cary of FountainPenDay.org and check out his awesome collection of Nakayas. Initially I had wanted a Piccolo or a Naka-ai, but the Neo Standard’s size and shape won me over. The pen is perfect for my hand, and the day after seeing his collection, I placed the order via phone to Nibs.com. The pen showed up a short two days later. Enjoy the review!
Appearance & Packaging:
First, the box. The Nakaya comes in a soft Paulownia wood (thank you for the correction Mr. Calhoon!) wood box, protected by a really cool rice paper outer box. The inside of the wooden box is lined with red velvet. Held in place by a ribbon of velvet, is the pen itself, wrapped in a silk “kimono”. The presentation is simple, yet refined and definitely matches up to the price of the pen. It’s definitely different from any of the other pens I have purchased, and it’s definitely not a throwaway. I really like the presentation, so much that I keep the box out on my desk.
The pen itself is a work of art. Its simple lines and deep red/black finish has an incredible amount of depth to it. It may seem simple at first, but it’s all in the details. There are many, many layers to the urushi lacquer, and looking closely in the right lighting you can really see how the finish builds on itself. The pen appears to be black, but at the edges, the deep red finish peaks through. Both the nib and the clip are gold, which adds a nice visual contrast to the overall look of the pen.
The nibs design is very nice as well. It’s not too complex or cluttered, and the ornamental design is visually pleasing. The heart-shaped breather hole is a nice departure from the standard circle. I absolutely love the simple, streamlined design. It’s totally understated and could easily go unnoticed by the untrained eye. I think that this may be part of why I love the pen so much.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
I should always put the filling system first, but I always forget to do so. The Nakaya Neo Standard employs a cartridge/converter filling system. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I really don’t mind the C/C system at all. Many people view it as a cheaper alternative, but I don’t mind the lower ink capacity. The included converter is very high quality (as expected) and there were some Platinum brand cartridges thrown in the box, which I haven’t used. The nib is where the magic happens. I opted for a 14k gold, soft-medium nib adjusted to a flow of 8/10, with a normal writing pressure and angle. John over at Nibs.com did an amazing job with the nib.
The 14k soft nib is by no means a flex, but it adds a wonderful cushion to your writing, making it seem both pillowy and smooth. You can get a tiny bit of line variation, but it really just puts a lot of ink onto the page when you push the nib. The pen has a generous flow of ink that’s capable of producing some really nice shading. The line width of the Japanese medium is perfect for my handwriting. It’s not too narrow, yet wide enough to really show off the color and properties of an ink. The Nakaya Neo Standard is an absolute pleasure to write with. There’s a bit of audible feedback from the nib, which can trick you into thinking the nib is scratchy. I put some headphones on, and it’s buttery smooth. I really love the way the pen writes.
Feel is another category where the Nakaya blows the competition out of the water. The urushi lacquered ebonite is one of the smoothest surfaces I’ve ever touched (not kidding). It’s expertly applied, and I can honestly say I like holding the pen just as much as I do writing with it. The contour of the barrel on the Neo Standard is amazingly comfortable. I’d say it fits like a glove, but I wish I had gloves that fit my hand this well. Seriously. It’s glassy smooth, light, warms to the touch, and is very comfortable and balanced in hand.
The step from the body to cap threads to grip is gradual, and doesn’t get in the way. The grip on the Neo Standard is just about an inch long, with a slight taper. It’s very comfortable, and allows for a variety of grips to be used without discomfort. The pen feels so great in hand, it’s kind of hard to believe. Watch out Lamy 2000…
- Attention to detail
- Amazing soft, springy nib
- Urushi lacquer is glassy smooth
- Body shape is really comfortable
- Looks awesome
- High barrier to entry ($$$)
- Diminishing returns for writing performance
I parted with several other pens to get this one. Do I miss them? Absolutely not, the Nakaya has done a great job of filling the gap and then some. The Nakaya Neo Standard is functional art. It’s constructed and finished perfectly. There’s not a single flaw on the pen. It’s very, very comfortable to hold and I love the way the finish looks. The soft-medium 14k gold nib is super smooth, with only a hint of audible feedback. I feel like the Neo Standard was made specifically to fit my hand, it’s that good. The pen comes in at a hefty $550. At first, it was a bit hard to swallow, but with some careful planning and selling, I was able to purchase my grail pen. I mentioned in the CONS section that there may be some diminishing returns in terms of writing performance. Be on the lookout for an article regarding that in the near future. Seeing some Nakayas in person only made me need to have one even more. The pen is truly amazing, and it’s the crown jewel of my collection. I will 100% be adding another Nakaya to my collection.
21 thoughts on “Nakaya Neo Standard Fountain Pen Review”
Nice review and what a wonderful pen. Quick nit pick observation: the photo of the wooden box is upside down. Kanji(i.e. Chinese) script should be the other way around
Ah I did the same thing on my flickr account, fixed it there but forgot to do so here. Thanks!
Beautiful images, beautiful subject. Outstanding review. You’re such an enabler.
Thank you / sorry!
Beautiful photos of your pentastic purchase! I’m pleasantly surprised to see how sharply the red shows up at the edges of the urushi finish. It’s a lot more dramatic than the photos on Nibs.com, and makes for an intriguing detail on an otherwise simple pen. (Simple meaning classy and understated in this case, of course.)
I have a weakness for Japanese urushi/maki-e pens and seeing your review of one was one of the highlights of my day. Unfortunately, C/C fillers hold too little ink for my voracious writing appetite, or else I’d save up for more Nakayas too. As it is, I stick with the fat and cherry Danittios.
Hope you enjoy your Nakaya for many years to come, regardless of the returns.
Sorry, I garbled that last email and noticed just as I hit send. Should have read.
Beautiful pen. This may be a bit nit-picky, so I am writing this direct. I bet that the wood in your presentation box is Paulonia, rather than balsa. Paulownia is used a lot in Japan for fine cabinety and boxes. Balsa is just not a wood for this level of quality. Best, Roger Calhoon
Roger, thanks for the info! I was having a hard time finding out exactly what it was. It’s definitely very soft like balsa, but as you said, that may not be of the proper quality for the application. Thanks again!
No one can eat just one! Definitely see more in your future.
Wonderful review – I’m just learning about Nakayas so great to hear your perspective on this one. You really covered all the experiences one has owning and using it, which is really helpful. Any thoughts on where one could try out a Nakaya or two before purchasing? Is that something a vendor at a pen show would accommodate?
Thank you, glad it could be of some help! Unfortunately the only vendor in the USA for Nakaya pens is Classic Fountain Pens (Nibs.com). I know they were just at the LA Pen Show a few weeks back, and I’m not sure whether or not they’ll be at DC in August. Try looking in your area for a pen club (fountainpennetwork.com is a good place to start) and see if anyone nearby has one. That’s what I did, and it was hugely helpful.
I saw the post on twitter and waited all day to get to my house to see the review on my computer to contemplate the beautiful photography on a bigger screen. Thanks for your review. Congrats on your pen. I am looking at my 18 good pens in my collection and thinking what I could sell to get a Nakaya, and I could not sell any! There must be another route.
Thanks for reading! It was definitely hard to sell a few, being that I’m a very sentimental person. I really had to see what I didn’t use so much, and I knew that I was getting rid of them for something that I would. I think there really wasn’t any tradeoff as far as me missing any pens. Put away $1.50 a day for every day you still want the pen, and you’ll have it in no time!
It’s been a while – interested to hear what “diminishing returns in terms of writing performance” are? Has your opinion changed in the last few months?
I still stand by it. While the Nakaya is an excellent writer, it doesnt write $450 better than my $150 Lamy 2000. In my experience, anything above $200 is paying for a name brand, precious materials, or skilled craftsmanship. That being said, I still love the pen and it is a special feeling every time I take it out to write with. For me, its well worth it. I think you’ve inspired me to write an article about it, thanks!
My Neo Standard is my favourite of 35 plus pens. It is also the most expensive.