1. TOP
  2. >
  3. Home goods
  4. >
  5. Stationary
  6. >
  7. 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed)
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed) 1
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed) 2
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed) 3
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed) 4
  • 10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed) 5

10 Best Tried and True Japanese Mechanical Pencils in 2022 (Stationery Expert-Reviewed)

Mechanical pencils are one of the most frequently used tools for writing. Unlike pens, you can erase your writing with mechanical pencils, making them great for students and even some professions. Unlike regular pencils, they don't need to be sharpened, just refilled with lead. Japanese stationery companies such as Pentel, Mitsubishi Pencil, and Pilot have come out with a wide variety of mechanical pencils, and there are also unique choices like Orens Nero, Kuru Toga, and Dr. Grip. On top of that, recently, mechanical pencils designed for drawing and precision models and high-end mechanical pencils that use fine 0.3mm lead are trending, so how can you determine the best one for you?

To figure this out, we ordered the 35 of the top-selling Japanese mechanical pencils on e-commerce sites popular in Japan like Amazon, Rakuten Market, and Yahoo! Shopping, and tested them all:

We tested each product for the following:

  1. Grip comfort
  2. Usability
  3. Lead durability

We then ranked the 10 best Japanese mechanical pencils based on the results of our tests. We'll also give you tips on how to choose a Japanese mechanical pencil that's best for you.
Last updated 2023/01/16
Expert
Stationery Expert
Hiroki Teranishi

Born in Osaka in 1976, Hiroki Teranishi is an expert in stationery sales and is the CEO of NEXT Switch, Co., Ltd., a company specializing in stationery sales and product consultation as well as offers a stationery subscription service. After working in the systems department at a gas company, Hiroki switched careers in 2006 and began working at a stationery manufacturer established by his grandfather. After working in the sales and corporate planning departments, Hiroki left his grandfather's company in September of 2014 and established his current company, where he provides assistance to startup stationery manufacturers through sales and planning. As a stationery sales expert, Hiroki also manages the stationery e-commerce site Bungudo. Hiroki has made several appearances on Japanese TV as well as runs his own YouTube channel.

Hiroki Teranishi's Profile
Editor
Editing Dept.
mybest US Editors

mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.

mybest US Editors's Profile
  • This content is independently produced by the mybest team. We may receive free products and services from brands and manufacturers and/or place ads, but these do not influence our content and product rankings.
  • For more information, please see mybest content policy
The experts featured in these contents reviewed the contents of the buying guide.
Products or services listed have been independently ranked by the mybest Editorial Team based on the relevant research as of 11-04-2022. Experts featured in this article did not participate in the selection and ranking process.

How to Choose a Japanese Mechanical Pencil That Doesn’t Break

Here, we want to introduce some things you should look out for when picking out a Japanese mechanical pencil.

① Choose One Based on How You'll Use It

Choose One Based on How You'll Use It

First, you can narrow things down by deciding which mechanical pencil style suits your needs. They can be divided into three types: simple mechanical pencils, pencils for drafting, and multifunction writing utensils.


  • Simple mechanical pencils are great for everyday use at work or school. 
  • Drafting models have a long tip, making it easier to see where you're making marks, and are perfect for fine, detailed writing and drawing. 
  • Multifunctional mechanical pencils have a ballpoint pen built in, and this dual functionality might make your writing tasks faster, since you won't have to grab another writing tool.

② Find a Pencil That Feels Good in Your Hand

The type of grip, barrel thickness, weight, and center of gravity all determine whether the mechanical pencil is comfortable to write with.

Choose Between A Soft Grip So Your Hand Doesn’t Tire Out, and Hard Grips for More Control

Choose Between A Soft Grip So Your Hand Doesn’t Tire Out, and Hard Grips for More Control

Although it's a matter of preference which type you find most comfortable, here are some general considerations about the grips available on mechanical pencils.


Soft grips mold to your fingers and reduce fatigue, making them great for those who write for long periods. But, while they can be more comfortable, they also may cause the pencil's tip to wobble. If you value accuracy, you'll have to take care when writing with this type.


Hard grips are generally easier to control, and work best for those who need fine details like accurate lines or beautiful handwriting. However, watch out for materials and designs that are more slippery than others.

Go for a Thick Barrel if You Tend to Write With a Heavy Hand, and Vice Versa

Go for a Thick Barrel if You Tend to Write With a Heavy Hand, and Vice Versa

If you tend to push hard when writing, we recommend a pencil with a thicker barrel. Those who write with a light touch can benefit from a thin barrel, on the other hand. Choosing the right thickness can help you find one that's easy to use.


A thick barrel is easier to grip without needing to squeeze more, so it can encourage you to not write with too much excessive force. A narrow barrel means you'll need to grip harder, which can benefit those who have faint writing by providing a sense of stability.

A Low Center of Gravity Makes the Pencil Tip More Controllable

A Low Center of Gravity Makes the Pencil Tip More Controllable
A low center of gravity, where most of the weight is near the pencil's tip, will make your writing neater. The higher the center of gravity, the more unsteady the pencil and the more strength needed to control it.

Try to find a good balance between the weight, the center of gravity, and the barrel's thickness. A lighter pencil will reduce fatigue, while a heavy one can make it worse. We considered these points when doing our product ranking, so make sure to check our notes on each one's performance.

Choose a Barrel Material: Lightweight Plastic, Solid Metal, or Familiar Wood

Choose a Barrel Material: Lightweight Plastic, Solid Metal, or Familiar Wood

The material of the barrel affects weight, comfort, durability, and price, so let's look at some of the commonly-available choices.


Plastic barrels are lightweight and easy to use. However, they're generally less durable, and can get slippery if your hand sweats.


Metal has a hefty, solid feel in your hand, and these pencils are durable and don't break easily. Metal tends to be found in drafting or high-end mechanical pencils.


Wood is moderately heavy, and the longer you use one of these, the more it feels familiar to your hand. It's not usually slippery. Unfortunately, there are few wooden options available, and none made it on our list.

③ Check What the Lead Advancement Mechanism Is

Check What the Lead Advancement Mechanism Is
There are three main ways to advance the lead in Japanese mechanical pencils: standard pencil-end click types, known as "knock," shaker types, and automatic lead advancement.

"Knock" types are the kind where you simply push down on the end where the eraser is or would be, and more lead comes out. Most mechanical pencils are this kind.


Shaker pencils have a weight in them. To advance the lead, all you have to do is shake it! Many of these come with a knock mechanism built-in too.


Others have an automatic feeding design, which advances the lead as you write without you needing to stop and push or shake anything. These are designed to work with the relatively short strokes of Japanese characters, so they may not work as well if your strokes usually connect. They may not work at all with cursive.


④ Look for Extra Features for Clear, Seamless Writing

Look for Extra Features for Clear, Seamless Writing

As mentioned above, an automatic lead advancement can let you write without pausing. Pencils like the Kuru Toga take it a step further, rotating the core each time it advances. This leaves you with a constant sharp tip, and is perfect if you don't want a mix of soft and sharp strokes.


Other pencils have a core breakage prevention feature. If you push too hard, a spring inside the barrel absorbs the excess force to keep the lead from snapping. They also have a tip that protects the lead. These features can affect the feel when writing, however, so decide if you really need it before buying one.

⑤ Look For One That Matches Your Style

Look For One That Matches Your Style

Would you like a transparent mechanical pencil so you can see all the engineering going on inside? Looking for a metallic finish, something black and neutral for business, or something in your favorite color? You can even find some in limited edition designs or collaborations with characters and such.


The design and color can turn an ordinary writing utensil into your favorite, so don't forget to think about it!

10 Best Japanese Mechanical Pencils That Don’t Break

Now to introduce the best Japanese mechanical pencils available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests.
Products
Image
Click to purchase
Points
1

Pentel

Orenz Nero

Pentel Orenz Nero 1枚目

A High-Performance Mechanical Pencil That Requires No Knocking

2

Mitsubishi Pencil

Kuru Toga Advance Upgrade Model

Mitsubishi Pencil Kuru Toga Advance Upgrade Model 1枚目

Innovative Punched Grip Feature, Lower Center Of Gravity For Stable Writing

3

Pilot

Dr. Grip G Spec Soft Grip HDGS-60R-O5

Pilot Dr. Grip G Spec Soft Grip HDGS-60R-O5 1枚目

Easy-To-Move Center Of Gravity Makes Writing Light And Smooth

4

Kokuyo

Pencil Sharp PS-PE105D-1P

Kokuyo Pencil Sharp PS-PE105D-1P 1枚目

As Light as a Traditional Pencil With Attention to Detail

5

Pentel

Orenz Metal Grip Type

Pentel Orenz Metal Grip Type 1枚目

A Mechanical Pencil With A Non-Slip Metal Grip and A Good Amount of Resistance on Paper

6

Pilot

Dr. Grip Pure White BDGPW-80F

Pilot Dr. Grip Pure White BDGPW-80F 1枚目

Great Fit With Dual Layer Grip

7

Mitsubishi Pencil

Uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm Hard Grip

Mitsubishi Pencil Uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm Hard Grip 1枚目

Slightly Long Clip but the Elasticity of the Gel Makes It Easy to Grip

8

Tombow Pencil

MONO Graph Grip Model

Tombow Pencil MONO Graph Grip Model 1枚目

A Mechanical Pencil With a Comfortable Rubber Grip That’s Gentle on the Hand

9

MUJI

Low Center of Gravity Mechanical Pencil 18360543

MUJI Low Center of Gravity Mechanical Pencil 18360543 1枚目

Low Center of Gravity Makes It Easy To Write

10

Pilot

Fure Fure Opt HOP-20R

Pilot Fure Fure Opt HOP-20R 1枚目

A Simple Mechanical Pencil With a Versatile Design

Product details
Close
No.1

A High-Performance Mechanical Pencil That Requires No Knocking

Pentel's Orens Nero was first released in 2017 in an attempt to design the most ideal mechanical pencil ever that allows you to keep writing without the lead breaking. In addition to the lead protection mechanism that the product lineup is known for, it now features an automatic lead dispenser mechanism that extends the lead every time you lift the pencil from the paper.


The unique 12-sided grip, as well as the pencil's wel-balanced, helped make the pencil feel very comfortable to hold. Moreover, in relation to the body of the pencil, this mechanical pencil has an extra-long grip, enabling anyone to write in their most comfortable grip position.


The automatic lead dispenser completely eliminates the hassle of manually extending the lead. The lead protection mechanism also didn’t interrupt writing and it was smooth in all aspects. This mechanical pencil overall outscored all other pencils for its grip, lead durability, and writing feel.
No.2

Mitsubishi PencilKuru Toga Advance Upgrade Model

$7.75

Innovative Punched Grip Feature, Lower Center Of Gravity For Stable Writing

Mitsubishi Pencil's Kurutoga Advance Upgrade Model is an updated model of the company's Kuru Toga Advance. It features an automatic lead rotation mechanism and a pipe slide lead protection mechanism that allows you to write without taking the tip out of the barrel.

The high-precision punched metal grip was not slippery as it looked and provided a firm grip. It also naturally tells you where to hold the pen, scoring a top-class rating in terms of fit.

The automatic lead rotation mechanism worked and kept the thickness of our letters even. Although the tip slightly moved around when writing due to the rotation mechanism, the lower center of gravity made it easy to control the tip. The pipe slide system also helped prevent lead breakage which was also a notable feature.
No.3

PilotDr. Grip G Spec Soft Grip HDGS-60R-O5

$6.99

Easy-To-Move Center Of Gravity Makes Writing Light And Smooth

Pilot's Doctor Grip G Spec is an easy-to-use pencil and the latest advancement in the company's Doctor Grip series, initially designed to reduce fatigue. Pilot claims that this version offers better usability, focusing on writing inertia and concentrating its weight near the center of gravity for optimal balance.

With a soft grip that wasn't overly soft, this mechanical pencil was easy to hold and had a top-tier fit in the hand. The ergonomically-designed thick barrel also helped stabilize the pencil.

In addition to the solid stability of the thick barrel, the center of gravity, which was designed for ease of movement, made the pencil feel almost weightless when writing. We especially recommend this pen to those who are looking for a mechanical pencil with a soft grip.

No.4

KokuyoPencil Sharp PS-PE105D-1P

$1.13

As Light as a Traditional Pencil With Attention to Detail

Kokuyo's Pencil Sharp is a mechanical pencil with a distinctive hexagonal thin barrel that mimics a traditional pencil. It comes in a wide variety of lead diameters ranging from 0.3 mm to 1.3 mm.

Weighing only 0.21 ounces, as well as shaped like a traditional pencil, this mechanical pencil was comfortable to hold and felt familiar in the hand.

Since it's lightweight, our testers were able to write smoothly without issue. While it has average lead durability, this mechanical pencil is great for those who want to use a mechanical pencil that feels like a traditional pencil.

No.5

PentelOrenz Metal Grip Type

$11.90

A Mechanical Pencil With A Non-Slip Metal Grip and A Good Amount of Resistance on Paper

Pentel's Orens Metal Grip Type is a model in the Orenz series with a metal grip with 3,240 special block-shaped knurls.

The knurled grip was easy to hold and non-slip, scoring higher than all other knurled grip pens tested in this article.

The Orens series keeps the lead from breaking by allowing you to write without taking the tip out of the pipe. However, the mechanism of the pen did affect its writing comfort, generating friction when writing. However, the lead rarely broke and was well protected.
No.6

PilotDr. Grip Pure White BDGPW-80F

$11.25

Great Fit With Dual Layer Grip

Pilot's Doctor Grip Pure White is a mechanical pencil from the Doctor Grip series which was designed to reduce the burden on the neck, shoulders, and arms. It uses a newly developed ergonomic dual layer soft grip with a thickness of 0.54 in. which Pilot claims is the optimal thickness for a mechanical pencil.

True to its claim of it being a mechanical pencil designed to minimize fatigue, the soft grip fits well in the hand. The thickness of the grip was easy to hold regardless of the level of writing pressure, and anyone can hold this pencil with no issues, even if they have a unique grip.

The thick barrel also allows you to write stably without unnecessary force, achieving a smooth writing experience. Its shaker mechanism allows you to extend the lead without changing your grip, making it easy to stay focused when writing.

No.7

Mitsubishi PencilUni Alpha-Gel Shaker Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm Hard Grip

$19.88

Slightly Long Clip but the Elasticity of the Gel Makes It Easy to Grip

Despite the name, Mitsubishi Pencil's Uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm Hard Grip has a soft gel grip, albeit the firmest in the lineup.

The soft gel grip was one of the best in terms of fit, and offered the highest amount of elasticity in the lineup, making it easy to grip the mechanical pencil regardless of grip strength.

Thanks to its great fit, it also reduces fatigue in the hand, making it easier to write for long periods of time. The only thing that has us concerned was its long clip that tended to brush against the hand, which some may find distracting.

No.8

Tombow PencilMONO Graph Grip Model

$7.11

A Mechanical Pencil With a Comfortable Rubber Grip That’s Gentle on the Hand

Tombow Pencil's MONO Graph Grip Model is an upgraded model of the company's standard Mono Graph line of products, featuring a metal clip and rubber grip in contrast to the original.

It received great reviews in terms of how well it fits in the hand. The material of the rubber grip felt smooth and gentle but didn't slip from the hand and contributed to a firm grip.

The long pipe offers clear visibility, allowing you to see where you're writing. The non-slip rubber grip helps control the tip, contributing to its writing comfort. It also comes with a decent size MONO eraser, but it had fairly standard lead durability.

No.9

MUJILow Center of Gravity Mechanical Pencil 18360543

$9.60

Low Center of Gravity Makes It Easy To Write

MUJI's Low Center of Gravity Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm is a simple mechanical pencil with a low center of gravity for stable writing, featuring a simple knurled metal grip.

The knurled metal grip fits well in the hand, adding plenty of grip. Its simple design was easy to use and it performed well both in the grip and feel tests.

Since the weight is concentrated in the grip area, its low center of gravity allows for excellent control. The long pipe is similar to a drafting mechanical pencil, offering clear visibility for ease of writing. While not outstanding, this is one pen with no major flaws.

No.10

PilotFure Fure Opt HOP-20R

$5.28

A Simple Mechanical Pencil With a Versatile Design

Pilot's Fure Fure Opt offers a variety of choices not only in colors but also in patterns. The shaker mechanism allows for smooth writing without the need to switch hands when you extend the lead every time.

The smooth barrel made it easy to grip while the non-slip rubber grip helped improve comfort.

Since the mechanical pencil has no additional features, it has a straightforward, simple, and easy design. However, this also means it has average lead durability.

How We Tested the Mechanical Pencils

We gathered popular Japanese mechanical pencils from Amazon, Rakuten, and Yahoo! Shopping and tested them for how the grip felt, how easy it was to write, and the lead durability.

Test ① How It Feels to Hold Onto

Test ① How It Feels to Hold Onto
First, we looked at one of the most important factors in determining how a mechanical pencil will feel in your hand: the grip.

We paid attention, first of all, to how the grip felt, as well as the weight and thickness of the grip, all of which affect your handwriting legibility. We then graded each pencil on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0.

Soft Grips and Hexagonal Barrels Are Comfortable to Hold

Soft Grips and Hexagonal Barrels Are Comfortable to Hold
Mechanical pencils with a soft grip which reduces the pressure on the hand received high scores across the board. They effortlessly fit in the hand and didn’t slip at all.

Mitsubishi Pencil's Uni Alpha-Gel, which uses a silicone grip, was particularly well received. The grip shape changes according to how tightly you hold the grip and the shape of your fingers. The grip conformed more comfortably to the hand with lower pressure and provided a higher grade of fit.


On the contrary, there was a split opinion when it came to the hard-grip pencils. Those with hexagonal barrels and rubber grips were highly rated for their ease of holding, while deep grooves and design-focused grips were rated lower for their poor fit.
Hiroki Teranishi
Hiroki Teranishi's Comment

The thickness, length, and weight of the barrel should be in balance. Having a lighter or thicker barrel doesn't necessarily make a pencil better, so pay attention to the overall balance and fit of the grip.

Test ② Usability

Test ② Usability

Next, we tested the usability of the mechanical pencils. 


We evaluated the functionality, lead output, tip control, and other factors. We then ranked each on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0.

Lead Protection Mechanisms Made the Tip Shaky; Simple Pencils Ranked Higher

Lead Protection Mechanisms Made the Tip Shaky; Simple Pencils Ranked Higher
A lead protection mechanism feature, which is supposed to help you write better, turned out to be a downside. The cushion installed in the tip got bouncy when we tried to change our hand pressure depending on the strokes of the characters and made it hard to write stably. Similarly, Mitsubishi Pencil's Kuru Toga series, which has an automatic lead rotation mechanism whose tip moves up and down to activate the feature, caused the pencil to shake when writing.

On the contrary, simple pens with no high-tech features and those with a long lead holder tip for clear visibility of the page surface were highly rated. Among them, especially those with a lower center of gravity were stable and comfortable to write with.


It's difficult balancing useful features and writing comfort, so choose a mechanical pencil according to what you value most.

Test ③ Lead Durability

Test ③ Lead Durability

We all want pencil lead that doesn’t break! 


For this test, we laid a sheet of notebook paper on a measuring device and wrote on it from a 45-degree angle, gradually adding more pressure to see when the lead would break.

Lead Protection Mechanisms Actually Work

Lead Protection Mechanisms Actually Work
When the extended to the first click, none of the tested leads broke, even when a fairly strong pressure was applied. However, when extended to the second click, the ones without a lead protection mechanism feature broke under a force of about 710 grams, while the ones with the feature successfully absorbed the excess pressure and their leads did not break.

If you often tend to break the lead, we advise you to first check whether you are extending the lead too much and whether you are placing excessive pressure on the pencil.

More Pencils and Erasers to Consider

For writing, sketching, schoolwork or note-taking, a good supply of reliable pencils is a must. Check out these links for some great options and accessories.

When you purchase products mentioned in the article, part of the sales may be returned to mybest.
The descriptions of each product is referenced from the content available from the manufacturer, e-commerce sites etc.

Related Articles

Popular articles

Popular favlists

Search by category