Hands-on with the Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu

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The Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu is fitted with a sword shaped clip as opposed to the more traditional ball-clip.

The Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu is a cartridge-converter fountain pen manufactured by the Pilot Pen Corporation in Japan. Accented by a two-tone gold nib and sword shaped clip, it features the traditional Japanese maki-e technique called “chinkin”. Also available in the Yukari Chinkin Series are the Tsuru (Cranes), Susuki (Silver Grass), and Sakura (Cherry Blossom).

The chinkin gold-inlay technique entails carving the curved surface of the Roiro urushi with chisels. The dots and lines are then lacquered and coloured with gold foil and powder. Chinkin is highly regarded because each carving entails demanding accuracy – not a single mistake can be made when work begins.

Chinkin originated in China as “Soukin” during the Sung dynasty (960 – 1279). It was considered to be one of the most advanced lacquerware techniques, and became popular in Japan during the Kamakura Era (1281 – 1358). “Tenbori” refers to dot-carving, while “Senbori” refers to line-carving (Lyn, 2003). Advanced techniques like “Kosuribori” (rub carving) and “Katagiribori” (one-side carving) are seen on pricier works.Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu 6

As its name suggests, the Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu depicts Japanese pine trees. In Japanese, the word “matsu” is a homophone which has two meanings. “松” is a noun which refers to pine trees, while “待つ” is a verb which means “to wait” (Dusenbury, 2004). The Japanese also decorate their homes with the “Kado-matsu” or gate pine during the New Year.

Japanese Shinto creation myths are animistic and see the natural world as divine. The pine, in particular, has been associated with sacred sites  – the “Yogo-no-matsu” at the entrance of Nara’s Kasuga Shrine has been described as a bridge between heaven and earth, and children sit under it to watch performances during festivals.

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The pen is signed “Kokkokai”, which refers to the group of Namiki artisans. Only higher end models are signed by the individual artist.

Pines were a symbol of protection for the ruling class and described as emblems of timelessness, representing the Confucian values of longevity, steadfastness and wisdom. The emperor and shogun were surrounded by symbolic imagery of pine trees when they met in the audience hall of the imperial palace (Gerhart, 1999).

The Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu is considered an entry level model from the brand, and therefore it does not bear the signature of an individual artist. The pen is signed “Kokkokai”, which refers to the group of artisans that work for Namiki. That being said, compared to the Yukari Royale Chinkin models, the Yukari Chinkin model is by no means of inferior quality – the lower cost can be attributed to the difference in size and simpler decorative imagery employed.

The pen caters to those who admire the chinkin technique, but would prefer a smaller sized fountain pen for daily use. The Yukari sized fountain pen is perfect in the hand – the metal barrel construction gives it nice heft without making it heavy, and it is very well balanced when writing. This is how it differs from some pens in the Nippon Art series.

The Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu comes in a classy Paulownia wood presentation box lined with red velvet and containing a black ink bottle. It also contains an instruction and guarantee booklet as well as a booklet which explains the chinkin technique.

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A two-tone, 18k gold nib writes well out of the box and is neither too wet nor dry.

The fountain pen is fitted with a 18k two-tone gold nib which bears the Namiki logo as well as an engraving of Mount Fuji. It is engraved with the code “a-MYY”, which refers to a welding machine in the Hiratsuka factory as well as the month and year of manufacture.

As expected, the nib performs perfectly out of the box. Similar to most Pilot nibs, the fine nib had slight feedback at the beginning but gradually became more enjoyable to write with over the last four months. It lays down a consistent line and is neither too wet nor too dry.

Filled with a CON-70 converter that is lacquered black to match the appearance of the pen, the Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu is a delight to write with. The only disadvantage of the converter is that ink occasionally gets trapped in the innards near the push button. That being said, this is not a serious issue and can be overlooked.

The Namiki Yukari Chinkin Matsu is a classy looking writing instrument from the Japanese brand. It certainly isn’t a collectible piece, as it isn’t signed by the artist. That being said, it is quite a sight to behold and may just be the perfect pen – especially for those who like a more compact sized daily writer, or admire chinkin but are unwilling to pay the price of a Yukari Royale model.

PROS
– Understated elegance
– Has good weight in the hand
– Utilises CON-70 converter
– Nib performs out of the box

CONS
– Rather expensive daily writer
– Entry level maki-e technique
– Artwork not personally signed
– Traditional appearance

 

Photos:

References:

Lyn, B. (2003). Maki-e, an art for the soul. (ISBN: 957-9403-07-4)
Dusenbury, M., & Bier, C. (2004). Flowers, Dragons & Pine Trees: Asian Textiles in the Spencer Museum of Art. Hudson Hills. (ISBN 9781555952389)
Gerhart, K. (1999). The Eyes of Power: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority. University of Hawaii Press. (ISBN 978-0824821784)