Over the years, there have been several entry level maki-e fountain pens that caught my attention. By the time I got around to seeking them out, these pens were inevitably discontinued. If they could be found, the pens often cost far more than their initial offerings.
Pens once available at a reasonable cost sometimes grow more expensive when they go out of production. Although, also true enough, sometimes these discontinued pens become deeply discounted. Often these discounted pens, however, no longer sport their original gold nibs but steel ones in their place. One can’t predict which way the prices will go.
And so, mindful of potential future regret—hmmmm, is that even possible?—I purchased a Platinum Kanazawa-Haku “The Moon and a Rabbit” fountain pen at a very good price. We do know how silly regret can be, especially when it comes to pens.
Kanazawa-Haku is a special art—it requires beating gold into into very thin sheets, then applying thin gold leaf to objects ranging from pottery to watches to clothing to buddhist alters. In Japan 99% of the craft is done in Kanazawa, and dates back to the 16th century.
Platinum released five versions of their Kanazawa-Haku fountain pens in 2012. (Platinum catalog #PTL-15000H.) The five pens are:
- Moon and Rabbit
- Red Mt. Fuji
- Autumn Leaves
- Cherry Blossom
The Kanazawa-Haku’s thin gold leaf pieces are applied by hand.
What makes the Kanazawa-Haku pens or any silk screened maki-e an entry level or at the “low-end” of the maki-e range? The designs are machine produced with some hand-finishing applied. Perhaps just a single layer of lacquer is applied over the finished product. The pens are usually made of resin.
The Kanazawa-Haku pens are not the only entry level Platinum maki-e offerings, as there are other silk screen printed pens in the catalog. In fact there are many kinds of maki-e pens in the Platinum catalog.
The Danitrio Fellowship is an example of hand applied maki-e on an ebonite pen:
Differences between these two pens, other than the pen material and type of maki-e used? The crispness of the rabbit is not as crisp in detail as in the Fellowship leaves, as one example. There is real sparkling raden in the Fellowship maki-e. The Rabbit on the Platinum gives a hint of raden, a trick of the eye (or my eye) because the pen has none. The Rabbit and the purple flowers are flat in comparison to the Danitrio. My Danitrio has no metal furniture to detract from the artwork. The Platinum maki-e must compete with the clip, and various metal rings.
It’s not at all fair to compare these pens, is it? I do so only because people often ask about low-end vs higher-end maki-e. The pens are obviously different, yet I find great delight to be had in either type of maki-e fountain pen. “Delight” is “worth it.”
On its own merits the Platinum pen provides consistent writing pleasure, with a bonus of a lovely Rabbit running through the grass and flowers in the moon light.
The raised gold leaf on “The Moon and a Rabbit” gives a tactile aspect to the pen. There’s also a hint of purple with three tiny flowers, and the simple, white rabbit which sparkles in a gold leaf outline. The pen’s gold leaf is not fragile, and touching the raised gold design doesn’t cause it to flake or ruin.
Having tried these rather spear shaped Platinum nibs before, I knew the nib alone would be worth the purchase. The Kanazawa-Haku pens come fitted with either a fine or a medium nib. The nibs are 18K, and pleasantly soft.
IMHO, these spear shaped nibs have more in common with each other, across brands (Platinum, Pilot, Sailor), then they do within their own brands. That is, this nib is nothing like the one on a #3776 pen, but more like a spear shaped Sailor, Pilot, or even a generic spear shaped steel nib. I’ve found these nibs to be smooth writers. Some are soft like the 18K pictured above. Some are hard as nails.
The Moon and a Rabbit fountain pen weights and measurements:
- weighs 22 grams – capped and inked with Platinum converter
- weighs 15 grams – uncapped and inked with Platinum converter
- 137mm closed
- 124mm nib to barrel end (no cap)
- 152mm posted
- 13mm in diameter
To ink the pen, you need to use a Platinum converter or ink cartridge (yes, proprietary!). The converter or the cartridge are the same as those used for the Platinum #3776 and President series of fountain pens. An empty Platinum converter weighs 4 grams, and will hold .6ml of ink. A Platinum ink cartridge weighs 2 grams, and holds 1.1ml of ink.
Platinum does provide an adapter to use international ink cartridges with Platinum pens. I’ve tried the adapter once, and found it unsatisfactory. But I’m not much of a cartridge user. YMMV. Be aware the adapter, once in place, can sometimes be extremely difficult to remove.
My pen has been inked most frequently with Sailor Sei-Boku. Just because.
The Platinum Kanazawa-Haku has given my Pilot MYU 701 quite a run for the “best notetaking pen” title. Both pens have slip caps, write without fail, and have thin profiles.
While I haven’t found the maki-e to be fragile, the lacquer on the resin barrel can scratch. I might have, uh, absently put my Moon/Rabbit pen in a pocket with something well I won’t say what it was, and the pen did come out with a bit of lacquer scratch. My Moon/Rabbit pen gets a lot of use.
So… not a pocket pen in quite the same way as the sturdy Pilot MYU. However, the Platinum pen is still pretty hardy. I just make sure to carry it in my pen roll, or in a pocket all to its own.
Is this pen a keeper? Certainly.
As I continue to struggle with wrangling in the tiny pen hoard, it’s hard to say if the pen has a permanent place. The Moon and a Rabbit may be a fun pen “for now.”
[Of course, "struggle" = ridiculous pen problem, AKA not a real problem. ☮ 'Tis a beautifully fun ponderation.]
- Platinum Pen Co, Maki-e catalog
- Kanazawa tourism information - read here for detailed information and links about the craft of Kanazawa-Haku
- A Bit About Platinum and Nakaya, Peaceable Writer, 2011 Aug 26
English translations of the Japanese version of the Rabbit on the Moon story
- Goldfish, Leigh Reyes, 2012 Mar 4
- Maki-e Pens, Ink Nouveau, 2012 Mar 4 – exquisite photos of the Kanazawa-Haku series by Brian Goulet
- Cherry Blossoms, East West Everywhere, 2013 Mar 16
- Cherry Blossoms, Ms Logica, 2013 Apr 15
- Rabbit/Moon, Pen Shots and Thoughts, Jose Prieto, 2014 Jan 12
- Anyone have a review of the Autumn Leaves or the Mt. Fuji version? Share your link in the comments!
Danitrio Fellowship Fountain Pen
- This pen came about through a small number of FPN members collaborating with Danitrio (with great effort by WineDoc—actually the pen would not have happened without him). Only 60 of these pens were made by Danitrio in 2009.
Pilot MYU 701