Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen packaging

I was pretty flabbergasted when my friend Kasey offered to send me his Nakaya Decapod pen to try out. It was such a kind and generous gesture considering how special (and pricey) Nakaya pens are. But that didn’t stop me from accepting his offer immediately. How often does one have the chance to test a pen at home, with your own inks and papers, with the luxury of comparing it side-by-side with your own pen collection? Exactly, so I had to do it.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen Packaging

The pen arrived in a paperboard shipper box made from beautiful Japanese paper. Inside was a balsa wood box with writing on the lid in black. Once that was opened, I saw the pen wrapped in a “kimono” cloth case, ink cartridges and a cartridge converter, all laying on a red velvet mat.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Once I got the pen out of the packaging, I could truly appreciate the beauty of a Nakaya. The pen is in the now retired color Ao-Tamenuri (a blue-green urushi). This particular Decapod is known as the Cigar as it has no clip and a distinctly tapered shape like a cigar. The color of the finish is so beautiful in person and really hard to capture in a photo. The urushi is applied like layers of ceramic glaze which creates the lighter areas shown on the edges of the facets and a deeper, almost black color on the flat surfaces. Each pen is hand finished so the amount of color difference is unique to each pen. This Decapod has distinct edges with bright color difference that look almost green. The example shown on the site is much darker with heavier application of urushi that gives the pen a softer, rounder appearance.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

The pen was purchased through which allowed for the pen nib to be modified by the legendary John Mottishaw. The original Japanese Medium 14K gold nib was ground into a Cursive Italic. Since the Nakaya Medium nib is already much finer than the European or US equivalent, this made for a fine cursive italic.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Its a beautiful nib on the end of a beautiful pen. I had to work up the courage to actually ink this gem up.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

I decided to use the Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine ink which is a similar shade of green to the ridges on the Nakaya.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Once I had the pen inked and in my hand, I remembered fully and completely what all the fuss is about with Nakaya. Not only is the pen beautiful and unique but it is perfectly weighted in my hand. It was silky on the paper and wrote flawlessly.

On a less poetic, more technical side, the Decapod is a large, full-sized pen measuring 6 inches capped and 5.125″ uncapped. The cap does not post. The pens weighs 24 gms capped and filled with the converter and 18 gms with the cap removed. Its not a particularly heavy pen. The Lamy pens I reviewed a couple weeks ago were twice the weight! The faceted shape also helped make the Decapod one of the most comfortable pens I’ve ever used.

I tested the pen on my standard Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 18 pad with 6mm guide sheet under the blank page. Yep, that small.

This Ao-Tamenuri color is no longer available but other colors and configurations are still available if you are interested in pursuing the Nakaya dream. Decapods sell for between $650 and $750 each. Nib customization is additional, depending on the grind.

Its official, I understand what all the fuss is about regarding Nakaya pens. I know why they end up on folks’ grail lists. I think this pen is going to go on my grail list. Do you think Kasey would notice if I didn’t send it back?

Django studies the Nakaya

(Thought you’d be amused to see my big, dumb cat attempting to “help” me write my review.)

8 Comments on Review: Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

  1. Great review! Lovely pictures as well. That’s such a nifty finish. I think it’s possible Casey might notice if you don’t send it back… maybe. Of course, this is even better because of kitty! 🙂

  2. I actually had to save the kitty pic, because from the back, he/she resembles my dearly departed Zippo.

  3. Now that ao tamenuri is a goner, which finish would you go for? I like the look of the green-brown heki tamenuri (sp?), but the red-black combinations also speak to me in my dreams….

  4. I saved up and got the red black of the model simply known as the Long. Their model names are so easy but the color names jeeez. It really is a magical pen even though most non-pen people don’t really get it. But I guess you could say that about any hobby. I stay away from the price thing in all discussions.

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