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What Makes Japanese Pens So Special


When your notes start getting complicated and out-of-control during that important class, meeting, or seminar, the only solution is to diversify tip sizes and ink colors. To this end, some pens are better than others -- and nothing beats a Japanese pen. The love for Japanese pens has become a cultural phenomenon that spans the globe, manifesting itself in an explosion of blog posts, instagram photos, and tweets.

Japanese writing instrument manufacturers have risen to the occasion, responding to the surge in interest with dedicated teams of designers and engineers. They approach pens like Audi approaches cars, constantly innovating and implementing improvements through countless product models and product lines. They compete to develop the best formula for gel ink, or to engineer a pen tip that can survive the roughest writing habits. The result is a mind-boggling array of gel pens that range from thin (0.18 mm) to broad (1.0 mm), with ink colors for every shade of the rainbow. Writers, artists, and pen lovers everywhere reap the benefits.

Writing sample of 5 gel ink pens with varying tip widths

Pen holder filled with a colorful array of 0.4 mm Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Pens

International award-winning drafting pencils allow you to tweak every feature, right down to the amount of lead dispensed per click. (Ohto Super Promecha Drafting Pencils)

5 drafting pencils on top of a notebook

Fully customizable multi pens allow you to select each component, with countless options for ink size, ink type, pencil lead size, and body design. At each step, you choose what goes into your pen, and eventually you have an all-in-1 writing instrument that complements your lifestyle perfectly. It's like Build-a-Bear for officephiles. (Sharbo X Multi Pen System)

Shabo X Multi Pen System pen components spread out over a notebook page

Even traditional brush pens are given a modern makeover, arriving in two new forms: disposable and ultra-portable. The incredible color variety is a joy to behold. (Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens - 20 Color Set)

Color samples for the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen 20 Color Set

How did Japanese writing instruments become so highly developed and advanced? "Kanji", or Chinese characters, are the main culprit. They are used extensively in modern Japanese writing, and can be extremely intricate -- the most complex kanji character tops out at a hand-breaking 34 strokes! One missed or muddled stroke can turn a character’s meaning from "greedy" to "poor" or from "love" to "anxious", thereby increasing the need for precise and consistent lines.

Japanese kanji character comparisons

Combine this with Japan's expertise in product design, and the result is a fascinating and ever-evolving pool of pen and stationery items. Moreover, Japan innovates on its stationery designs every year, generating a perpetual stream of exciting new products.

Writing sample and erasing demonstration for Pilot FriXion Gel Ink Pens

A recent invention, patented heat-sensitive ink and eraser technology from Pilot, allows the user to erase colorful gel ink completely through friction!

Kokuyo NeoCritz Pen Case when transformed into a upright pen holder

A thriving industry has sprung up around these pens and pencils. Pencil cases that can transform into a pen stand when in use and erasers uniquely designed to maintain a sharp edge at all times are only the beginning. The choices, the technology, the high-quality design - Japanese pens are a product designer’s dream come true. Explore them all at America’s premier online Asian stationery store, JetPens.com.