Tag Archives: Maruzen

The Last There Were There

Some were still there, but they were cut off by bags and emergency food.

After work today I made a quick run to the last day of the 8th Annual World Fountain Pen Exhibition in the slim hope of tracking down some more bottles of the ink I managed to track down when I went there before. Alas, although there was some ink, the rare stuff was long gone.

The biggest treat was stumbling across the Sailor ink blender Mr. Usamu Ishimaru as he worked with a client. I wasn’t free on the day reservations became available and therefore didn’t have a chance to get a reservation so all I could do was gawk. He’d clearly been there a while and was looking bored. He also gave me a temporary look of recognition as I am a permanent troll at these events.

Usamu Ishimaru, Sailor’s ink blender, works with a client. Next to him is a bag display where Nakaya used to be.

I was mostly surprised to see that the Nakaya table was gone. Granted, the pens on their display have no nibs as part of the Nakaya mystique is that, if you buy from their table, they will let you choose a nib style and then their pen master/mistress will tune it to fit your writing style to help make  the pen yours, but I still expected to see a few for sale. (Then I remembered that they sell a few downstairs in the mausoleum.)

Ohashido and Eboya were still there, but Euro-Box was gone and in their place was a necktie display (yes, this is a bookstore, therefore, neckties). In Nakaya’s place was an emergency food display that included cans of curry.

That, in a nutshell, summarizes what’s wrong with the two department store pen shows. The pens are an afterthought, the sales are what’s important and pens are not more special than neckties. When I went there before, the staff at the LAMY table couldn’t give me any information until the LAMY rep was free.

My next goal is to track down the local pen fanatics and make it to one of the Wagner pen club meetings. (More on them in a future post.) Or, since I have more free time now, if I can overcome the usual resistance, find someone who could help me start my own pen show.

That will bring it’s own problems, I suspect, but that’s fodder for a future post, too.

Fun Up Stairs and Surprises Down

I didn’t get way up stairs today, so I don’t know if there was a third pen show, but the two I visited were pretty good, mostly thanks to a surprise.

Today I visited the 8th Annual World Fountain Pen Exhibition at Maruzen Books down in Tokyo. Because it was a Friday, I wasn’t expecting much. As always, the things I most wanted to see were all huddled into a tiny space next to the exit at one end of the ground floor.

I was especially pleased to see Euro-Box on hand as it was fun to look over the large selection of vintage pens. A Nakaya staffer was there tuning and fixing pens as were staff from Ohashido and Eboya.

Eizo Fujii from Euro-Box (left) watches over four displays full of vintage pens. The pen maker from Ohashido consults with a client at the back, near the exit.

The pen master from Ohashido works on a client’s pen.

The pen mistress from Nakaya (I forgot her name and she usually keeps it secret anyway by hiding her name tag) checks the smoothness of a nib at the Nakaya tables. (Note: She doesn’t like pictures, so I’m only running this because you can’t see her face clearly.)

I drooled over a couple pens but managed to walk away with my finances intact. Mostly.

Some of the Ohasahido pens. That orange and black pen second from the left is calling me. My wallet is sending a different message. (I also like the three to the right.)

Although it wasn’t that busy, there was still a lot of energy on the ground floor. However, because there wasn’t much to see other than temptation and temporary joy followed by fits of remorse, I headed downstairs into the mausoleum where it was dark and silent.

However, as soon as I arrived in the mausoleum, I saw a large collection of store exclusive inks. I quickly bought one of each. This was a big surprise as 1) I expected any ink they had to have sold out the first day and 2) they were older versions in the old style bottles. I quickly bought one of each, gambling I’d be able to sell them.

Because of that find, I was in a much better mood in the mausoleum. I looked around at a few of the displays and talked to the LAMY rep about the cap on my LAMY 2000. (He says it’s fine; I says it’s barely fine.) I saw the anniversary edition LAMY 2000 black amber, which is neither black nor amber, but is cooler looking than I expected it be.

I also found my scribblings from last  year in a sample notebook in the darkest corner of the mausoleum. Something about that struck me as funny and I left in a good mood.

I was in such a good mood that I completely forgot to check out what events were happening on the third floor.

I still think it would be cool if they squeezed a nibmeister in next to the Nakaya or Ohashido tables. It would also be nice if they allowed pictures in the mausoleum.

But I left in a good mood, so none of that bothered me much this year.



Caught Between Two and a Half Pen Shows in One Building

The trouble started in the basement. It got better upstairs. The third floor was just bizarre and kind of sad.

Today I visited the 7th Annual World Fountain Pen Exhibition (link in Japanese) at Maruzen Books in Tokyo. I came away realizing I’d actually visited two and a half pen shows: one that was fun and full of people who seemed to be having fun and one that was dark and full of people who seemed to have sticks up their, um, spines.

Then there was the guy on the third floor. He deserved better.

I’ve mentioned before how part of the problem with Tokyo’s major pen shows is that they are run by the stores hosting them for the benefit of the stores. This makes them rather stodgy. Today they got annoying.

Maruzen, inexplicably, squeezes the pen exhibition onto three different floors rather than clearing space for one. In the basement you have an expanded version of their normal pen section and most of the displays are run by Maruzen staff rather than pen enthusiasts or pen manufacturers. There are pens and there is ink. There is nothing else. Sort of. (More on that in a moment.)

Today the most interesting section in the basement was the surprisingly well stocked OMAS table. It had a warning that OMAS was belly up, and a wide selection of different types of pens all in the “yeah, I could probably flip these for more than that” range.

For this post, I took a couple pictures of the show in general and was immediately accosted from behind–by a woman from the Montblanc booth no less–and told no pictures. I responded with a very mature rant (in English) about how they were contributing to the death of pens and handwriting, but since they weren’t makers–and probably didn’t speak much English–the only impression I made was “jerk foreigner who finally shut up and left”.

A scene from the pen show. The Montblanc lady yelled at me right after this.

A scene from one corner of the pen show. The Montblanc lady (not pictured) yelled at me right after this was taken.

I immediately vowed not to buy anything, but in a dark corner (no joke, by the way) on the way to escalator I ran across a notebook maker I’d never heard of and had to buy a couple notebooks. (I never change, except in my resolve.) (More on those notebooks in a another post.)

Upstairs, on the ground floor, was the second pen show. It featured the pen makers Nakaya, Ohashido and Eboya. Despite being squeezed in near the umbrellas and watches, everyone in that pen show was having fun. Not only was the space brightly lit, it was full of pen enthusiasts and the makers actually invited you to their tables and were happy to show off their wares without the looks of suspicion given by the clerks in the basement.

The man from Eboya at least pretended to have heard of Newton Pens when I compared my Moody to his pens. He also liked my Edison Glenmont and showed he had a pen made from Cumberland ebonite as well.

The Eboya display--with my coral Newton Moody.

The Eboya display–my Newton Moody is fifth from the left. I want everything on the left (plus the red bamboo.)

The man from Ohashido carefully explained the differences in the two pens that interested me. One had a brushed orange urushi that revealed the black ebonite underneath (and looked awesome) the other was solid orange ebonite. (The pictures didn’t turn out.) Nakaya sat at a table of temptation to fix pens and/or replace nibs whether they’d been purchased at Maruzen or not.

Mr. Yoshida of Nakaya smooths a nib on a stone.

Mr. Yoshida of Nakaya smooths a nib on a stone. The pens down left are all samples and all very, VERY dangerous.

Nakaya's pen maintenance tools.

Nakaya’s pen maintenance tools.

On the third floor, I stumbled across a Maki-e demonstration put on by Pilot Pens. The artisan, who’s name was not posted and which I didn’t ask for, had just finished talking about maki-e and demonstrating how to do it. He was all by himself and should have been down on the ground floor where he might have been able to sell some pens or, at minimum, find and audience.

The Pilot Maki-e artist talks to the only other guy there.

The Pilot Maki-e artist talks to the only other guy there. His Maki-e powder is to the right in the black tray.

Next week I’ll go to the Mitsukoshi Fountain Pen Fair. It’s bigger and all in one place, but it’s still mostly run by clerks. I’ll go on Saturday, which is a busier day, and try to get in line for a custom Sailor ink.

Unfortunately, that’s also the day of the Tokyo Folding Knife show so my loyalties and priorities will be split. (See above comments about resolve.)