Now to introduce the 15 best Japanese calligraphy and brush pens available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from 1.0 to 5.0.
|Japanese||ぺんてる ぺんてる筆 ～中字～|
|Ink quality||5.0 (Water-Based Dye)|
|Japanese||呉竹 美文字 完美王|
|Ink quality||5.0 (Water-Based Pigment)|
|Japanese||パイロット 新毛筆 中字|
|Ink quality||4.0 (Water-Based Dye)|
|Ink Quality||5.0 (Water-Based Pigment)|
|Thickness||Thin – Bold|
|Japanese||パイロット カラー筆ペン 筆まかせ|
|Ink quality||3.0 (Water-Based Dye)|
|Ink quality||3.0 (Water-Based Dye)|
|Ink quality||2.0 (Water-based Dye)|
|Japanese||プラチナ万年筆 双筆 跳ね小筆|
|Ink Qquality||3.0 (Water-Based Pigment)|
Platinum Pen Co.
New Brush Pen Medium
New Brush Pen
Colored Calligraphy Pen Fude Makase
FudeMoji Autograph Pen
Fountain Brush Pen
New Brush Pen
Writes in a Way Both Pros and Beginners Will Appreciate
Keeps Your Ink at a Consistent Intensity No Matter How Long You Write
Classical Calligraphy Pen that Makes Beautiful Lettering a Reality
Reliaable Ink and Bristles With Some Resilience
Easily Vary the Strength and Intensity of Strokes
Varies the Width of Your Strokes, No Matter How Short They Are
Feels like a Fine-Tipped Permanent Marker and is Suitable for Both Art and Lettering
Ink Refills and Replaceable Head Means This Pen Lasts Forever
Feels Just Like a Traditional Brush
A Beginner-Friendly, Thick Sharpie-Type Pen Suitable for Everyday Use
|Japanese||ぺんてる ぺんてる筆 ～中字～||呉竹 美文字 完美王||ぺんてる きらり||パイロット 新毛筆 中字||三菱鉛筆 新毛筆||パイロット カラー筆ペン 筆まかせ||ぺんてる 筆文字サインペン||呉竹 万年毛筆||あかしや 新毛筆||プラチナ万年筆 双筆 跳ね小筆|
|Writing||5.0 (Bristles)||4.0 (Bristle)||4.0 (Bristle)||4.0 (Bristles)||3.0 (Bristles)||4.0 (Stiff)||3.0 (Stiff)||4.0 (Bristle)||4.0 (Bristle)||2.0 (Stiff)|
|Ink quality||5.0 (Water-Based Dye)||5.0 (Water-Based Pigment)||4.0||4.0 (Water-Based Dye)||5.0 (Water-Based Pigment)||3.0 (Water-Based Dye)||3.0||3.0 (Water-Based Dye)||2.0 (Water-based Dye)||3.0 (Water-Based Pigment)|
|Thickness||Medium||Medium||–||Medium||Thin – Bold||Superfine||Medium||Fine||Small Brush||Small brush|
And why they didn't quite make it.
More than a calligraphy pen, the Tombow Pencil Co. Fudenosuke Keichou Twin S was more like a fine-tipped permanent marker. Don’t go in expecting to control the width of your strokes like you would with a calligraphy pen.
The Zebra FudeSign Medium had brush-like about it at all. The tip was just a bit softer than that of a permanent marker, which wasn’t enough to allow us to vary the width of our strokes. We also didn’t like that the ink thinned out when we wrote quickly.
The long and thin tip of the Akashiya Sai would be perfect for ink wash and watercolor paintings, but the barrel was also narrow, which made the pen hard to control. The ink was also really thin; even if you were to purchase the Sai purely for writing in fine print, we still don’t think you’d be pleased.
Every time we moved the Zebra Calligraphy Pen Thick and Fine ~Dual Sided~ FD-501, it squeaked infuriatingly in a way that reminded us of creaking Styrofoam. It was dual-tipped and quite firm, so it was easy for beginners to use; however, we disliked writing with it so it ended with a 1.0.
The Zebra Soft-Tipped Calligraphy Pen ~Fine~ FD-302 was like an evolved felt tip pen. It was easy to switch between fine and bold strokes, even for beginners. However, like its cousin, it squeaked as it wrote.
We gathered 15 most popular Japanese calligraphy and brush pens from Amazon, Rakuten, and kakaku.com and tested them for how well each wrote, how the ink transferred and its depth of color, and how thick the strokes were.
※Note that the words hane, tome, and harai, which we'll be referencing a lot in the following text. These are all aspects of calligraphy writing, with hane being the little flick up at the end of certain strokes, tome being the thickening at the end of certain strokes, and harai being the thinning out at the end of certain strokes.
We tested for flexibility, whether our strokes had a clean finish, and whether each pen was more suited for beginners or advanced users. We then graded the pens on a five-step scale from 1.0 to 5.0.
Pens with softer bristles allowed for smooth, flowing strokes, but were difficult to control for those not already used to drawing with brushes.
We wanted to see whether the ink would get scratchy, or if we could accurately control the strength of color by how we held the brush. We then rated each product on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0.
In particular, old favorites like Mitsubishi Pencils’ New Brush Pen, Kuretake’s Bimoji Cambio, and Pentel’s PentelFude positively shined; all three earned a 5.0 for their ink.
Here, we want to introduce three things you should look out for when picking out a calligraphy pen.
Like their stiff-tipped counterparts, soft-tipped calligraphy pens do feel a bit like a permanent marker, but you need a bit of practice before you can achieve those nice hane and harai.
However, it feels different from your run-of-the-mill marker or pen and takes quite a bit of practice to master.
However, it fades and blurs quite easily. You shouldn’t have a problem, though, if you’re just addressing a postcard or writing on an envelope.
Unfortunately, there aren't as many calligraphy pens that utilize pigment-based ink around and so not as much choice. Figure out your priorities before settling on a type of ink.
If you do end up going to a stationery store, try writing common things, like your name and numbers in both script and cursive.
Thin pens, for example, are good for fine work, such as art, addressing postcards, or copying sutras; medium pens are good for everyday calligraphy; thick pens are good for poster work and big, dynamic lettering.
Learning how to flow smoothly between thick and thin strokes is key to making your work look more like it was drawn by a brush and your words more like traditional calligraphy.
Other than calligraphy pens, there are plenty of other options for writing utensils out there that are reliable and work better for different situations. If you're looking for more pens that have been proven great through testing, then take a look at the articles below!
If you're thinking of writing a beautifully penned letter in cursive, then you might be thinking about purchasing a fountain pen rather than a calligraphy pen. If you're looking for a great option, then check out this one recommended by Joe, the Gentlemen Stationer.
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