And thus I let myself be driven by impulse and bought a fountain pen I couldn’t afford.
In 1934, Sadao Yamamoto founded a company in Japan’s western prefecture of Tottori, with the idea of making and handcrafting high quality fountain pens. Over the years the company has remained in the rather remote area of Tottori, and gathered its customers through word of mouth, as well as pen shows and clinics held in the larger cities of Japan. Eventually, the Internet made the company’s fountain pens available to a much larger customer base.
The company is Mannenhitsu Hakase, and rather than attempting to put the two Japanese words in a clever title, it is perhaps better to simply say that mannenhitsu means fountain pen, and hakase is a word referring to ‘doctorate’ or ‘doctor.’ Unfortunately, the Hakase website is all in Japanese, without any English hints. However, there is an interesting YouTube video to see at this site.
I ordered the fountain pen shown in the photos above when Hakase came to Tokyo for a pen show. Patience is required if you are interested in having one of their custom made pens. I ordered mine over eighteen months ago, and then waited ten months for delivery, which came by mail from Tottori Prefecture. The Hakase website now gives a waiting time of twenty-six months! The cost of a pen will vary depending on the specifics of what you want in the pen. The one in the photos here was $1,680.00, just about enough to send me over the deep end.
Body of the pen is made of rosewood.
The pocket clip and ring on the cap are beaten gold.
Length of the pen capped: 14.4cm (5.67in)
Length of the pen posted: 16cm (6.30in)
Weight of the pen, with ink: 30g (slightly over 1oz)
Nib: 14k gold, length 2.4cm (0.9in), size BB
Ink system: Uses a Pilot converter or cartridges
Owner specific serial number engraved on the barrel of the pen
After receiving the fountain pen from Hakase, as I often do with new pens, I took it to Nobuhiko Moriyama at his shop Fullhalter, to have the nib ground a little more to my liking. That extra bit of work on the nib meant I wouldn’t have to break the pen in over a period of weeks. I have tried four different brands of ink in the pen, and each of them flows smoothly across the page, leaving a generous line of ink. Those four brands are: Montblanc, Pelikan, Pilot’s Iroshizuku and Hakase.
I am still feeling the pinch of paying the price to have this pen, but really I have not the least regret, and feel the excitement and passion of this special treasure each time I pick it up.