Top 15 Best Japanese Gel Pens to Buy Online 2019 – Tried and True!

Top 15 Best Japanese Gel Pens to Buy Online 2019

You’d think gel pens would be straightforward. But in Japan, where stationery makers are all vying for the top spot in a heated market, even the smallest improvement in design and the faintest sparkling of genius can make a difference. And wouldn’t you, the stationery buff, like to know what gel pens are currently the most prized in Japan?

So this time around, we ordered the 15 most popular gel pens from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and kakaku.com) and tested for the following:

  1. How the Grip Felt
  2. Balance
  3. The Color, Feel, and Depth of the Ink
  4. How the Nib Felt against Paper
  5. Fastness of the Ink
  6. Design

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese gel pens.

Table of Contents

How to Choose a Japanese Gel Pen – Buying Guide

We’ll get into how we tested and compared all the gel pens, but before that, we want to introduce four things you should look out for when picking out a gel pen.

① Get a Pen that Feels Good to Hold

To find a gel pen you can write comfortably with for hours, it’s important you pay attention to the shape and material of the grip and the overall balance of the pen.

When the Grip Fits Your Hand, You Don’t Tire out as Easily

When the Grip Fits Your Hand, You Don't Tire out as Easily

If the grip’s a good fit for your hand, you’ll be able to write for hours without feeling sore. When choosing a gel pen, you want to ask the following questions: Are there guides for my thumb, pointer, and middle fingers? Are there grooves, bumps, and indents that make the pen easy to hold? Is the material resistant to sweat? Is the grip firm or soft enough?

Then there’s the thickness of the grip. If you put a lot of pressure on your pen when you write, think about getting a thick grip; if you write with a light stroke, then get a thin grip. Take both your preferences and the weight of your strokes into consideration when looking at grip, and you’ll shift a lot of burden off of your hand.

When You Write for Hours on End, Well-Balanced Pens Feel the Best

When You Write for Hours on End, Well-Balanced Pens Feel the Best

A well-balanced pen is responsive to touch; it moves easily in the way you want. Not only will writing become smoother, the pen will become more stable. If you plan to write for hours, then get a well-balanced gel pen–that is, make sure that the center of balance is somewhere between the middle of the barrel and the nib.

But if you only use your pen for short periods of time–to jot down sporadic notes and sign checks–then there’s little need to worry about weight.

② Get a Pen that Writes Well

This sounds simple, but there’s actually a few factors to look out for. With gel pens, you want to look at the color, feel, and depth of the ink, as well as how fast it is (here, we refer not to speed, but to water-resistance and light-fastness.)

When You Try out the Pen, Look at the Color, Feel, and Depth of the Ink

When You Try out the Pen, Look at the Color, Feel, and Depth of the Ink

We say a pen writes well when it can produce clean, crisp letters.

The only thing is you can’t check for this without trying the pen out for yourself. If you do care a lot about the look of the ink, then go to a stationery store that offers testers. Try writing things you write every day, such as your name and numbers, block and cursive letters, and pay attention to the sheen of the ink, how the letters look against the page, and depth of color.

Pigment-Based Ink Holds Fast. Dye-Based Inks Offer a Variety of Colors

Pigment-Based Ink Holds Fast. Dye-Based Inks Offer a Variety of Colors

Gel pens tend to be inky–so the faster they dry and the less they smear, the better and more versatile they become.

In general, ink in gel pens is either pigment- or dye-based. Pigment-based ink tends to fade less over time and be more water-resistant, so it’s best for writing documents. On the other hand, dye-based ink tends to offer a greater range of colors. Think about where your priorities lie, then choose the type of ink that appeals more to you.

③ Get a Pen that Excels in Design

Get Something that Excels in Design

Gel pens can be beautiful, and as superficial as it may seem, it’s important to choose something with a design that appeals to you. Get a pen so beautiful that you want to use it and carry it around at all times.

It’s true that more expensive pens tend to be better designed, but that doesn’t mean that cheap pens are all lacking in the looks department. Pay attention to the fine details, and soon, even the smallest gel pen will start revealing the intent and character of its designer.

④ Get a Pen with a Nib Size that Fits Your Purposes

Get a Pen with a Nib Size that Fits Your Purposes

Have you ever considered the relationship between what you’re writing and the size of your nib?

For letters or anything else that uses narrow-ruled paper, look for a nib 0.4 mm or finer; for the address on envelopes or anything else that requires larger print, try a nib 0.7 mm or thicker; for general use, aim for a nib that is around 0.5 mm.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

Now to introduce the 15 most popular Japanese gel pens that we ordered and the process by which we tested them.

{The Products We Tested}

  1. Pentel Hybrid (ぺんてる ハイブリッド)
  2. Pentel Energel X (ぺんてる エナージェル・エックス)
  3. Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen (無印良品 ゲルインキボールペン)
  4. Muji Smooth Writing Gel Ballpoint Pen Retractable (無印良品 さらさら描けるゲルボールペン ノック式)
  5. Zebra SARASA Clip (ゼブラ サラサクリップ)
  6. Zebra SARASA Dry (ゼブラ サラサドライ)
  7. Zebra SARASA Grand (ゼブラ サラサグランド)
  8. Sakura Ballsign Retractable (サクラクレパス ボールサイン ノック)
  9. Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo RT1 (三菱鉛筆 ユニボール シグノ RT1)
  10. Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo 307 (三菱鉛筆 ユニボール シグノ 307)
  11. Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo (三菱鉛筆 ユニボール シグノ)
  12. Pilot Hi-Tec-C (パイロット ハイテックC)
  13. Pilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice (パイロット ゲルインキボールペン ジュース)
  14. Pilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice Up (パイロット ゲルインキボールペン ジュース アップ)
  15. Kokuyo Eraberno (コクヨ エラベルノ)

We then tested for each of the following things:

Test ①: How the Grip Felt
Test ②: Balance
Test ③: The Color, Feel, and Depth of the Ink
Test ④: How the Nib Felt against Paper
Test ⑤: Fastness of the Ink
Test ⑥: Design

Test ①: How the Grip Felt

How the Grip Felt

First, we tested the most important factor of how a pen feels in your hand: grip.

We looked to see if there was even a grip to begin with; then we looked at the shape, thickness, and material of the grip, and how much resistance to slide and sweat it offered. We ranked the pens on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: A Unanimous Winner! Customize the Kakuyo Eraberno to Craft the Ultimate Pen

The Big Takeaway: A Unanimous Winner! Customize the Kakuyo Eraberno to Craft the Ultimate Pen

All of our testers were enamored with Kokuya’s Eraberno. The grip had a level surface with grooves carved into either side, guiding our fingers into very natural positions.

In Japanese, “eraberu” is to choose; the name of this pen is a play on words. The grip comes in three sizes–thin, medium–and thick–and you can choose one according to your preferences, the size of your hand, and how you hold your pen.

The freedom also acts as a double-edged sword, however. If you choose wrong with this pen–whether that be the size of the grip or the thickness of the nib–then it suddenly loses all its appeal. Make sure you understand your preferences before purchasing.

Test ②: Balance

Balance

Next, we tested a great influencer of how easy a pen is to hold and control: balance.

We took the pens up in our hand and looked not only at where the center of balance was, but at overall weight. We then considered the pros and cons of overall weight distribution and graded each pen on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: Different Designs and Price Points for Different Walks of Life. But Zebra’s SARASA Grand and SARASA Clip and Pilot’s Juice Up were Our Uncontested Winners

The Big Takeaway: Different Designs and Price Points for Different Walks of Life. But Zebra's SARASA Grand and SARASA Clip and Pilot's Juice Up Were Our Uncontested Winners

After a long string of pens that we could only only call mediocre, we finally found three products that pulled ahead of the pack. They were Zebra’s SARASA Clip and SARASA Grand and Pilot’s Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice Up.

Zebra’s SARASA Clip is available in Japan for just 100 yen (about a dollar), making it ideal for broke university students. The SARASA Grand is a bit classier, making it a viable option for business. Finally, there’s Pilot’s Juice Up, which has the clip attached at the very tip of the clicker so you can clip the pen into a notebook and not have any of it peek over the top.

All three were well-balanced; no matter which you choose, you’ll be lifting a lot of pressure off your writing hand.

Test ③: The Color, Feel, and Depth of the Ink

The Color, Feel, and Depth of the Ink

You can’t write well without good ink. Therefore, our next test focused on the color, feel, and depth of the ink.

For the purposes of this test, we wrote solely with black ink. We then each graded each pen on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: Pentel’s Energel X, Nicknamed the Job-Hunting Pen, was the Majority Favorite

The Big Takeaway: Pentel's Energel X, Nicknamed the Job-Hunting Pen, was the Majority Favorite

This time around, Pentel’s Energel X came out on top. Even though it’s dye-based, the ink was a clear, dark black, and we could see why it’s used so often when job-hunting here in Japan. (Our resumes are typically handwritten so that the company can judge your penmanship.)

The pen was easy to control, as the ink came out as smooth as water and yet wasn’t slippery enough to cause any unwanted swerves. It was light and had none of the slick, slimy texture of certain oil-based inks. There was also, of course, no unwanted friction.

By the way, Sakura’s Ballsign Retractable, Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo 307, and Pilot’s Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice Up also received an A+ rating.

Test ④: How the Nib Felt Against Paper

How the Nib Felt Against Paper

Next, we looked at another great influencer of writing experience: how the nib feels against paper.

We paid attention to how it felt when we wrote–whether the pen flowed on the paper or whether we could hear any scratching. We then ranked each pen on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT 1 Received Top Points from All of Our Testers

The Big Takeaway: Mitsubishi's uni-ball Signo RT 1 Received Top Points from All of Our Testers

When it came to feel, Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT1 was on a completely different level from all the other pens we tested, being the only product to receive an A+ rating.

There wasn’t a single person who would deny that this pen feels great writing on paper. The secret to that smoothness was its “edgeless tip.” By removing the corner at the very tip of the body of the pen (not the nib), Mitsubishi Pencil ensured there would be less friction between pen and paper; even if you were to hold the pen at a tilted angle, your writing would still flow smoothly.

The ballpoint, too, was well-engineered, designed to not scratch the surface of your paper. The pen itself was very easy to control. Even if you do have poor penmanship, there’s a chance you could tidy up your writing by simply taking this pen for a spin.

Test ⑤: Fastness of the Ink

Fastness of the Ink

If you need your words to last, then you need to check how fast the ink holds.

We purchased some paper that’s so resistant to water, you could take notes with it underwater. We then wrote on the paper with each of the pens, soaked the written sheet in water for five minutes, and waited for it to dry.

We then took everything into consideration–the ink’s resistance to water, as well how long it took to dry and how much it bled the second it was set on to paper–and gave each pen a grade ranging from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: Muji’s Smooth Writing Gel Ballpoint Pen and Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT1 Held Fast and are Thus Perfect for Addressing Packages and Envelopes

The Big Takeaway: Muji's Sarasara Kakeru Gel Ballpoint Pen and Mitsubishi Pencil's uni-ball Signo RT1 Held Fast and are Thus Perfect for Addressing Packages and Envelopes

Muji’s Smooth Writing Gel Ballpoint Pen and Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT1, both of which utilize pigment-based ink, didn’t blur at all. They’d be good contenders for addressing envelopes or packages.

On the other hand, inky pens like Pentel’s Hybrid and the uni-ball Signo did have some bleed-through and ghosting, depending on the type of paper we used. They’re all pens with water-resistant pigment-based ink, but they may perform differently depending on the pen and paper used.

Also know that while most Japanese gel pens are pigment-based, there’s still many products that are dye-based, which is of course weak to water. It’s something to look out for when you’re shopping.

Test ⑥: Design

Design

Finally, we looked at design.

Of course, we took superficial things like how cool or classy the pen looked into consideration. We also tested for things like how well thought out the design was and whether there was anything about the design that was impractical or unwieldy. We then graded the pens on a scale from D to A+.

The Big Takeaway: We Couldn’t Believe This Thing was Available for Just over 100 Yen! Mitsubishi Pencil’s Classy uni-ball Signo RT1 was a Cut above the Rest

The Big Takeaway: We Couldn't Believe This Thing was Available for Just over 100 Yen! Mitsubishi Pencil's Classy uni-ball Signo RT1 was a Cut above the Rest

It was cloaked in black from head to toe. We loved that Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT1 had no undue undulations, earning it an A+ in the design department.

The vast majority gave this pen full points actually, which is amazing, considering that it costs just over 100 yen (about $1). The clip was attached the clicker, as well, which is rarely seen among Japanese stationery–just another reason that this pen is a paragon of design.

The Final Verdict: Top 15 Best Japanese Gel Pens to Buy Online

Now to introduce the 15 best Japanese gel pens available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from D to A+.

15. Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint PenMuji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen

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Price: $1.50

Design that Falls Short of Expectations. Received a Solid D on 5 of our 6 Tests…

This pen received the absolute lowest score on all of our tests, excluding the one for fastness. Muji’s known for stripping all excess from its designs, but this time that worked against them. What we lost was the grip, leaving us with a pin-straight barrel. It seems like when it comes to gel pens, less is not more.

However, because Muji utilizes pigment-based ink, it didn’t blur at all. It also didn’t feel horrible when we put pen to paper, so if you don’t mind the design and having a barrel your fingers will keep slipping down on, then this is still a viable choice.

Grip D
Balance D
Ink Color D
Feel on Paper D
Ink Fastness A+ (Pigment)
Design D
Overall Score D

14. Pentel Hybrid

Pentel HybridPentel Hybrid

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Price: $3.51

One of the Gel Pens that Started It All. Whether You Like It Depends on If You Like Old-Timey Designs

Pentel’s Hybrid is a pioneer; it was one of the first ever gel pens to gain widespread popularity. It’s kept both its cap and its design from the old days–whether you find that behind the times or nostalgic will greatly sway your impression of this pen. However, because not much thought was put into the grip or weight distribution, the Hybrid ranked in at just 14.

Depending on how fast we wrote, the depth and feel of the ink also changed, which we didn’t like. However, even though it’s difficult to control ink flow, it’s a good pen to write with if you like the feel of nib scratching on paper.

Grip C
Balance D
Ink Color D
Feel on Paper C
Ink Fastness C (Pigment)
Design D
Overall Score D

13. Pilot Hi-Tec-C

Pilot Hi-Tec-CPilot Hi-Tec-C

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Price: $3.30

The 0.25 mm Nib Could be a Deal-Breaker or Deal-Maker. Great if You like Scratchy, Fine-Point Pens

There’s no grip on this thing, so our fingers slipped as soon as we picked up the pen. The nib also breaks pretty easily, and while we understand that Pilot is asking us to be gentle with our hands and pens, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Hi-Tec-C was pretty difficult to hold.

However, there are many who are in love with its super fine 0.25 mm point, and the way it scratches across the paper–think of that crunch beneath your boots when you walk across newly fallen snow. Plenty of people say they can’t draw or write unless it’s with a Hi-Tec-C, so we wish we could at least give it points for uniqueness.

Grip D
Balance C
Ink Color C
Feel on Paper D
Ink Fastness B (Dye)
Design B
Overall Score C

12. Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo 307

Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo 307Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo 307

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Price: $1.90

Inky Pen that Writes Smooth as Silk. It Doesn’t Scrape or Leave Blots, but Takes a Long Time to Dry

The ink contained cellulose nanofibers, which meant that even if we wrote quickly with this pen, it didn’t catch on the page and it didn’t blot. The ink also also earned an A+ when we tested for color, feel, and depth. The nib of the pen was well-designed and didn’t leave furrows behind on the page.

Because the ink flow was heavy, this pen glided easily. But this strength was also a weakness, as the pen dried slowly and tended to bleed and ghost. It almost felt as if we were writing with a fine-tipped marker. The design was also hit-or-miss, so this pen landed near the bottom of our ranking.

Grip C
Balance B
Ink Color A+
Feel on Paper C
Ink Fastness C (Cellulose Nanofiber)
Design C
Overall Score C

11. Pentel Energel X

Pentel Energel XPentel Energel X

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Price: $4.94

Doesn’t Feel That Great in the Hand. But It’s Fast-Drying and Writes in Clear, Crisp Letters, Earning Its Appellation of “Job-Hunting Pen”

The ink is so clean and clear that this pen is a favorite among new graduates here in Japan, who must write their resumes by hand. It dried so fast that even newly-laid letters didn’t smear–also why this pen is popular among lefties. However, it does utilize dye-based ink, so it’s not the best choice for when you’re addressing envelopes or otherwise need a water-resistant pen.

However, you could also say the ink was the sole redeeming feature of this pen. Even though the grip was grooved, our hands still managed to slip–and, honestly speaking, we didn’t like how it felt in sweaty hands.

Grip C
Balance C
Ink Color A+
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness D (Dye)
Design B
Overall Score B

10. Zebra SARASA Dry

Zebra SARASA DryZebra SARASA Dry

 

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Price: $2.95

Not the Most Water-Resistant, but Dries Fast Enough to Work Effectively on Any Paper! Heavy Ink Flow Ensures Smooth Writing

We mean, it’s in the name–SARASA Dry dried quickly. We tried it out on color copy and thermal paper and laminated labels, but the ink transferred smoothly and dried in a moment every single time. However, it is a dye-based ink, so we had to give it a D for longevity. It will actually smear if you try to go over it with a highlighter, which limits its uses.

Compared to the original SARASA, the pen had not only faster-drying ink, but also more ink flow. The ink quickly trickled down, completely coating the tip of the pen. On the other hand, both design and comfort received mixed reviews.

Grip B
Balance B
Ink Color B
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness D (Dye)
Design B
Overall Score B

9. Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo

Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball SignoMitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo

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Price: $2.85

A Good Choice if You Like Scratchy Pens, but the Grip is Short and Hard to Keep Hold of

This pen’s got a short grip, likely because it’s capped. That gave us a very limited area on which to hold the pen, and as some of us prefer to write with our hands positioned higher or lower, we gave the original Signo only a C for grip.

When you write, the pen feels as if it’s biting into the paper–something that will appeal to you if you prefer pens with a little more scratch in them. The ink is pigment-based and therefore water-resistant, so this is a good pen to use when addressing packages and envelopes.

Grip C
Balance D
Ink Color A
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness A+ (Pigment)
Design B
Overall Score B

8. Pilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice

Pilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen JuicePilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice

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Price: $1.80

Ink Flow is Pretty Much Perfect! However, Personal Preference Led to Varying Opinions on the Grip

There were two main opinions about the grip. The first was that it had a lot of hold, which kept it steady between the fingers and made it responsive to touch. The second was that it felt unpleasantly sticky.

On the other hand, reviews about how the nib felt on paper and how the ink performed were generally positive. The ink flow was pretty much perfect; it was heavy and constant, but it didn’t smear or bleed. As soon as we touched pen to paper, color flowed out, and because the ink was pigment-based, it also held up well to moisture.

Grip B
Balance C
Ink Color B
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness A (Pigment)
Design A
Overall Score B

7. Muji Smooth Writing Gel Ballpoint Pen Retractable

Muji Sarasara Kakeru Gel Ballpoint Pen RetractableMuji Sarasara Kakeru Gel Ballpoint Pen Retractable

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Price: $1.50

The Iconic Half-Cloudy, Half-Clear Muji Design is Pleasing to the Eye. Makes for Smooth Writing, as the Name Promises

We loved the ink in this pen. Just as the name suggested, the color came out smoothly and the nib moved easily against paper; in addition, we had no complaints about the depth of color. The pigment-based ink dried quickly and held fast.

The half-transparent tip of the pen was characteristic of Muji design. We disagreed about how much we liked the pared-down design of the grip, but in general, we’d say this is not a badly engineered pen at all.

Grip B
Balance A
Ink Color B
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness A+ (Pigment)
Design C
Overall Score A

6. Sakura Ballsign Retractable

Sakura Ballsign RetractableSakura Ballsign Retractable

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Price: $2.80

Ink Flow is Rich but Nib Scratches Satisfying against Paper. Clever Design Makes You Want to Collect All the Colors

Sakura Color Products Corp. was the first company in the world to manufacture gel pens. The Ballsign was the first pen they commissioned an outside designer for; the end product was a pen that gradually balloons out near the bottom. It’s a cute look that some may find kiddish. In any case, the pen was incredibly easy to hold, even between just the tips of our fingers.

We were surprised that though the ink flowed freely, the nib still scratched firmly across the page. It’s also easy to control the intensity of the ink–write slowly, and your lines thicken. If you are enamored with this design, it’s worth collecting all the colors.

Grip B
Balance A
Ink Color A+
Feel on Paper A
Ink Fastness B (Pigment)
Design B
Overall Score A

5. Zebra SARASA Clip

Zebra SARASA GripZebra SARASA Clip

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Price: $1.75

A Staple of All Pencil Cases! Blend of Quality and Price Has Earned This Pen a Dedicated Following

This is overall a well-balanced pen, perfect if you’re just looking for a standard gel pen. In Japan, it’s available for under 100 yen (a buck), but its price in America is nothing to scoff at either. It’s easily accessible, and for many, this product was the beginning of their gel pen obsession.

The grip seemed slippery at first but actually had quite a strong hold; the body showed elements of both 20th and 21st century design… We’d venture so far as to say that the SARASA clip is kind of milestone for gel pens. It’s available in varying thicknesses and colors, so you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like.

Grip A
Balance A+
Ink Color B
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness A (Pigment)
Design B
Overall Score A

4. Kokuyo Eraberno

Kokuyo ErabernoKokuyo Eraberno

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Price: $0.82

Has the Potential to Fit Any Hand. Ability to Customize Earned This Pen Full Points for Its Grip

The grip is available in three sizes: thin, medium, and thick. Not only can you change the grip to fit your preferences and the size of your hand, by rotating the grip and re-positioning the level surface, you can further personalize how you use the pen and guide your fingers into their most natural positions.

You can also choose between oil-based and gel ink and a 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm point. We tested the 0.5 mm dye-based Airy Gel Ink. Put a lot of thought into your decisions, and Eraberno will feel like just another  limb on your body.

Grip A+
Balance A
Ink Color C
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness A (Dye-Based Air Gel)
Design A+
Overall Score A

3. Zebra SARASA Grand

Zebra SARASA GrandZebra SARASA Grand

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Price: $11.50

The SARASA of Working Adults! The Solid Design Adds to Both Classiness and Practicality

The Grand made sure to keep all the strengths of its previous iterations, while incorporating a design that wouldn’t look out of place at a high-profile meeting. The weight is such that the pen offered us a sense of stability when we held it in our hands, just one of the reasons why the SARASA Grand ranked in at number three.

There were verticle grooves running up and down the grip; even though it was coated with metal, it wasn’t slippery and rested easily between our fingers. Offered this level of quality and comfort at this price point, even we couldn’t find much to complain about.

Grip A
Balance A+
Ink Color A
Feel on Paper B
Ink Fastness A+ (Pigment)
Design A
Overall Score A+

2. Pilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice Up

Pilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice UpPilot Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Juice Up

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Price: $3.60

Cutting-Edge Technology that Brings Together a Fine Point and Smooth Writing! Comfort and Design Make It Perfect for Writing in Notebooks and Diaries

The Juice Up is equipped with a nib that is incredibly fine but can lay down a lot of ink; it’s almost surprising how easy this thing is to write with. It comes in both 0.3 mm and 0.4mm–and though both are on the thinner side, writing with this pen is smooth sailing.

Furthermore, the clip is installed at the very top of the clicker, so even if you were to clip this pen to the pages of your dairy or notebook, none of it would peep over the top. The pigment-based ink holds fast to paper, making this pen indispensable when writing in small print.

Grip B
Balance A+
Ink Color A+
Feel on Paper A
Ink Fastness A+ (Pigment)
Design A
Overall Score A+

1. Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo RT1

Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo RT1Mitsubishi Pencil uni-ball Signo RT1

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Price: $2.85

Ink, Design, and Comfort–This Has It All! A Pen Made to Fit and Serve Any Hand

The grip of this pen went all the way to the nib, which was a comfort for those of us that like to hold our pens way down low. Plus, there were no sharp angles on the tip of this pen, so even when we wrote at an angle, there was no unpleasant scraping or grinding. This pen was made to be comfortable, no matter who the user is.

The ink is pigment-based and so water resistant. The black was dark, crisp, and clear, and even small letters didn’t bleed or smear.

This pen ranked in first for both the longevity of its ink and how it felt against paper. Really, Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT1 was a clear choice for our number one recommendation.

Grip A
Balance A
Ink Color A
Feel on Paper A+
Ink Fastness A+ (Pigment)
Design A+
Overall Score A+

Summary

Summary

We rounded up experts and members of our editing department, purchased the 15 most popular Japanese gel pens, and tested them all. Even though Mitsubishi Pencil’s uni-ball Signo RT1 slid smoothly into first place, all the other pens had great features and are well worth consideration.

To bring out the full potential of a pen, you can also try customizing the grip and other parts. One of our stationery experts attached another grip onto his Signo RT1, adjusting it until the feel of the pen matched up to his own preferences and expectations.

Next time you’re at a stationery store or surfing the web for some good manual writing tools, be sure to keep this buying guide in the back of your mind!

Original by Nao Kondo; Translation by Jasmine Li

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