Sunday, December 20, 2009

LO or RO, The Real Thing

In 1911, Kyugoro Sakata founded The Sailor Pen Company in Hiroshima, Japan. The engineering skills of Mr Sakata guided him and his company, and over the years the quality of Sailor fountain pens grew, as did the company’s reputation. In 1947 a fourteen year-old boy went to work at the Sailor factory in Hiroshima. Sixty-two years later he continues to work there, and now has a worldwide reputation as one of the finest fountain pen nib designers anywhere in the world. His name is Nobuyoshi Nagahara and in Japan he is known as the “God of Fountain Pens.”

One of the most desirable fountain pen nibs today is the Naginata Togi, designed for Sailor by Mr Nagahara. Like its namesake, the Japanese halberd, or long handled sword, the Naginata nib is long, measuring almost 2.5 centimeters in length. It is 21 carat gold, which naturally enhances the writing quality. At a pen clinic a few years back, I asked Mr Nagahara why one of my Sailor 1911 pens was not writing to my satisfaction, and he pointed out that since the nib was 14 carat, it wasn’t going to write as well as a Naginata with its 21 carat nib.

Sailor released a new fountain pen in 2007 called the Realo (ree-ah-ro) to commemorate its 95th year of making quality fountain pens. The name is at first a little strange, but I understand it comes from a combination of ‘reliance + and + locus.’ Thus, the name RE-A-LO. Of course the English ‘L’ is a difficult sound for the Japanese, and so the reading of the name became ‘ree-ah-ro.’

The Realo is the first Sailor pen to have a piston filler, and one with a large 1.5 millimeter capacity. It also has another feature new to Sailor, an ink window (clear band around the lower part of the barrel) to show when the pen is getting low on ink. The pen weighs 35 grams, is 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) long capped, and 15.5 cm (6.1 in) posted. The body of the pen is made of black acrylic resin, with 24 carat gold plate on the clip and the band. It is a good-looking fountain pen, resembling the older Sailor 1911.

No surprise for me to learn that the Realo with its Naginata nib writes like a dream. Mine is a what I call a broad, or B nib, but the letters H-B are engraved on the side of the nib, and I believe that means, ‘hard-broad.’ The term ‘hard’ refers to the nib’s lack of flex, which some fountain pen users do not like. However, it is exactly the nib I prefer and I have nothing but praise for the feel, the flow and the line of this design.

Of the photos all are self explanatory, except for the one above. This is an autographed page in one of my older journals from a time when NAGAHARA NOBUYOSHI repaired my older Naginata pen. The 2007 release of the Sailor Realo came at the same time Mr Nagahara won the Japanese Modern Artisan Award for his ongoing contributions to fountain pen and nib design.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I've been looking at some of the Naginata Togi pens, not sure if they were worth it or just hype. This clears things up, and I'll be looking more seriously now.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America