Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body

21 04 2012

I forgot; my scanner is too small for 9x12" drawings. Oops. I'm sure you're not missing out on much. Except for catsnail (snailcat?) in the bottom right corner.

It seems I have not yet taken the opportunity to embarrass myself with a brush pen. Luckily, JetPens has been kind enough to assist by providing me with this Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen, free of charge (the embarrassment, however, is all up to me).


In spite of a continued lack of mastery wherever brush pens are concerned (unless they are waterbrush pens, but that’s a different story), I persist in loading them onto my wishlist and acquiring them on a dispiritingly regular basis. Those of you who know what you’re doing with brush pens may want to turn away now, and skip to the link at the bottom—unless you like cats.

Cats not included

This is quite a pen, bigger even than the eternally popular Kuretake No. 33, by about 5mm. Almost as big as two Liliputs put end to end. This isn’t something you’ll just slip in your pocket (though it will easily fit in my preferred pencil case). Given that it would take a pocket of some exceptional depth to contain, I’m not much concerned by lack of clip.

Despite being made of bamboo, this pen will make a poor substitute for chopsticks

Unless you absolutely hate anything vaguely Asian/the color red/Communism more than McCarthy did, then I think you’ll agree that this is a lovely, elegantly repurposed piece of bamboo (in America, the typical purpose of bamboo is sushi placemats, chopsticks, and swords/fishing poles for children lucky enough to live near a random bamboo forest). But I have a few design quibbles I’d like to knock out real quick. The cap doesn’t post, which is irksome when there’s nothing on the cap to keep it from rolling away. The white lettering is already starting to wear off (good thing I can’t read any of it anyway)—though my Rotring Art Pen also had that problem shortly after I reviewed it. But most confounding of all, the cap does not secure satisfactorily. If you look close up there, you can see a gap between the bottom lip of the cap and the rest of the body. It doesn’t go on any further, but it also doesn’t snap into place so you know that that’s as far as it’s supposed to go. Not that it feels like it’s in danger of popping off, but there’s something profound that’s missing. In lesser mortals, this would be an invitation straight to a psychological meltdown.

Pen also comes with instructions, all in Japanese. I bet this cat can read them, but he won't tell me anything. Probably because he's a jerk. Or because he's an inanimate object.

For reasons lost on me (probably because the only part of the packaging I can read, besides the pictures, is the barcode), the two cartridges this pen comes with are exact clones of the typical Platinum Preppy cartridge; word on the internet is that the Platinum converter is a perfect fit—and this is a pen that would make the converter worth buying.

The other, less reliable word on the internet is that the ink provided isn't a true black. Well, I gathered up every black I could find in brush form...either that person is full of it, or I don't know what true black is.

Now, when it comes to brush pens, I don’t know what I’m doing; I just own several brush pens and use them on occasion, wishing I could be like those other people who pick up a brush pen and turn it into a magic wand. The closest I get to wizardry is easily replicable card tricks, relying on as little deception and actual magic as possible.

Pictured: (cat)people who have a better idea than me how to actually use a brush pen

That said, and in spite of my quibbles, I enjoy using this pen. Though I can’t get lines quite as fine, nowhere near as often as I can with a Pentel brush pen (a review for another day), I prefer the hard body that still manages to have a surprisingly consistent ink flow—generous, but not juicy. The Akashiya doesn’t have bristles as long or as few in the middle (for some reason, I want to call that area the “sharp”? Don’t quote me on it), thus why I can’t get the same consistently thin lines, but maybe this brush pen isn’t designed to cramp you into a scale that small. A big bodied brush like this seems to be gunning for a big, flourishing stage. More open, relaxing.


All the other brush pens I have are unerringly purposeful, their designs an absolute sentence of utilitarianism. But something about the design of this pen makes it feel fun. Playful.

Unless you're these guys. Then it feels like work.

Moreso than my other brush pens, this one begs to be doodled with. It doesn’t have the look that sternly chides, “I am for professionals who know what they are doing.” This pen says, “Come here! Let’s make tea and have fun! And talk to ourselves! And get strange looks from people nearby!”

What does this say? Does it say bamboo? It looks a little bit like the Eiffel Tower to me. Pretty sure it doesn't actually say "Eiffel Tower."

Hopefully, I’ll be able to make an update to this post titled “Here It Is, You Guys, I’ve Finally Figured Out What I’m Doing,” but in the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of fun doodling with this pen.

Thanks again to JetPens for providing the sample!

Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body at JetPens

Platinum Fountain Pen Converter at JetPens




12 responses

21 04 2012

Great review, funny too.
The word is “pen” in Japanese Kanji.

21 04 2012

or “pen” in old chinese, too. :)

21 04 2012

Yep, traditional Chinese. Since this is a Japanese product, I assume it’s using Kanj, but of course, Kanji is based on Chinese.

22 04 2012

I somehow managed to convince myself to drop a Sakura brush pen into my basket on a recent internet purchasing frenzy, without doing any research whatsoever.

It’s an interesting pen, but I unfortunately do not have any artistic fibres in my body at all, and trying to write with it is a nightmare! Your drawings are great, and your artistic photographs are great too.

22 04 2012

Fantastic post and review! Had a good laugh and smile at your attempt to write in english with the brush pen lol* I’ll have to think about getting one for my collection now! Cheers!

29 04 2012
Lauren K.

Thank you for the post, and as always the attention to detail and quality with your photos.

Here’s a tip for anyone interested:

For English speakers who dream of writing in kanji, try http://dscript.ca

its a beautiful and artful kanji style for English writing.

I love brush pens and (sadly) can only write/speak English. I keep a number of books with kanji around, so I can practice calligraphy by copying the symbols — but a dictionary won’t help with conjugation, tenses and such and I don’t have the free time to learn.

This dscript method doesn’t take too long to learn – mapping the shapes to the roman alphabet and the choices of ways to combine the shapes leaves plenty of room for creativity. (see the white board demos on youtube to get a feel for the choices I’m referring to. )

12 05 2012
Sailor A.S. Manhattaner’s NY Artists Guild Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Cat on the Road « No Pen Intended

[…] had several pens—my Rotring Art Pen, my Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, my very first Sailor Ink Bar, for example—where the writing on the barrel has worn from […]

13 02 2013

As someone with a newfound love for brushpens, I really loved this post and the pic. Thank you for writing it. :)

29 07 2015
Nari Kim

Interesting! When I first got my Parson’s Essential pen with a cursive stub nib, I wowed at how beautifully it could write English characters. But then it writes Korean characters look weird.

I recently got interested to acquire myself with a brush pen for drawing. I ordered Kuretake no 8 for trying. This red bamboo brush pen looks so exotic and charming. Good to know it could use a Platinum converter.

By the way, the last picture of Chinese character is upside down and it means ‘brush.’ I had never thought that letter look like the Effel tower. :)

28 03 2017
Palomino Blackwing Slate | No Pen Intended

[…] but pushing the limits I was surprised to fit (one at a time, of course!) a Rotring Art Pen, the Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen, a Pilot Vanishing Point, and even a Lamy Al-Star (though that was really pushing the limit, and […]

31 05 2017
Ink Flight Box #4 | No Pen Intended

[…] Grey — love the shading, love the sparkle. I even have Stormy Grey in my bamboo brush pen right now. It’s like me: seems professional, but then the light hits it just right and you […]

14 09 2020
Tag Team: Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen & J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe Ink | No Pen Intended

[…] project, this ramble of a review certainly falls in line with that intention. I first reviewed the Akashiya Bamboo Body brush pen over 8 years ago, when JetPens apparently sent it to me for free (wow, thanks y’all, that was […]

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