Monday, January 2, 2023

Fountain Pen Review: Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age

It's the New Year and Rants of The Archer welcomes 2023 with a brand new fountain pen review! To start the year here's another "fountain pen first" for me and this blog, an Urushi fountain pen from Japan's Wancher Inc., the Oita-based company led by Taizo Okagaki and his team. Last year, I collaborated with Wancher in my first-ever review of their flagship fountain pen model, the Dream Pen in True Ebonite. Following the success of the first review, Wancher sent two beautiful fountain pens from their Sekai Collection, together with a leather pen case and a discount code for everyone who buys a Sekai fountain pen! (Details at the end of this review.)

I've been using fountain pens for almost 15 years now, and I've seen many pens from other fountain pen collectors. But the pens from Wancher are so unique that using them becomes an unforgettable experience. The fountain pen in this review is a Sekai Tsugaru Urushi in Midori-Age finish. I'm not a fan of green pens or inks, but this green and red Urushi fountain pen is beautiful, it's exquisite, and it's like no other pen I've seen or used before! 

Wancher's packaging of their fountain pens is in traditional Japanese presentation boxes.

I love this traditional Japanese wooden box that Wancher sends their pens in. A monoprint of a fountain pen and sakura are printed on the cover, together with Japanese Kanji that says "special writing instrument." Inside the box, the Sekai fountain pen is safely tucked inside a pen kimono, together with a pack of ink cartridges, a guarantee certificate, an instruction manual, and a certificate of authenticity of the Sekai fountain pen. These traditional Japanese wooden boxes remind me of the wooden box that my father made for my class project when I was a young school kid, which I later filled with stationery, bookmarks, stickers, clippings, and other ephemera. 

The Wancher traditional wooden presentation box includes the Sekai fountain pen in the pen kimono, a pack of ink cartridges, a guarantee certificate, an instruction manual, and a certificate of authenticity.

The Sekai fountain pen collection embraces the idea of connecting the world with the arts, inspired by the World Tree in many mythologies. Sekai fountain pens are made from precious woods such as ebony and sandalwood, and then crafted with Urushi, Maki-e, or simply decorated with a high-quality Japanese Sterling Silver clip. I am new to Urushi and how it's done, but Wancher provides an excellent description of the process. According to Wancher, Tsugaru Urushi refers to lacquerware made in the city of Tsugaru in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Known as one of the most skill-intensive Urushi techniques, Tsugaru-nuri is sophisticated yet stunningly beautiful with its unusual finish.

Sekai Tsugaru fountain pens are crafted with Kara-nuri, a high-quality Tsugaru-nuri technique that shows distinctive speckled patterns created by four to six different Urushi color lacquers. With this technique, many layers of different Urushi are applied to wooden or ebonite surfaces using a spatula-like tool, called a shikake-bera. Urushi lacquer is then allowed to dry for three to four months, after which artisans will start polishing to even the surface. The final finish becomes smooth and glossy, showing mottled patterns. It's amazing to know that the whole process takes several months and is totally done by hand.

Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age

I had a hard time choosing pens from Sekai Collection because all the pens are beautiful! I chose Midori-Age for its unique green and red colors, and I am happy with my pen choice. It is a medium-sized pen, measuring 5.52 inches while capped and 5.02 inches uncapped, weighs 23g, is well-balanced, and is comfortable to use for writing. 

This green and red fountain pen is a perfect starter for the year!

This Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age pen has the following specifications:
  • Length, capped: 5.52 in | 14 cm
  • Length, uncapped (nib tip to barrel's end): 5.02 in | 12.7 cm
  • Full pen weight: 23 g | 0.81 oz
  • Body material: Base materials are natural precious woods such as ebony and sandalwood. 
  • Trim: None
  • Cap: Ebonite, screw-on, can be posted
  • Clip: None, but Wancher offers a selection of roll stoppers
  • Nib: No. 6 Jowo stainless steel in Fine, also available in Extra Fine, Medium, Broad, Stub 1.1, or Stub 1.5. Wancher also offers other nibs, including a Jowo gold-plated stainless steel, Wancher 18k rhodium-plated, and Wancher 18k solid gold.
  • Filling mechanism: Cartridge or converter, both supplied with each pen
  • Color: Green, with visible streaks of red, black, and gold; also available in Karashi-Age, Ro-Age, Kuru-Age, Aka-Age, and Ao-age

Sekai Midori-Age fountain pen can be filled with ink using a converter or standard international ink cartridges, both are included in the box.  

Wancher notes that this Urushi fountain pen is made using the Kara-nuri technique, where many different lacquers were applied using the shikake-bera, a spatula-like tool. Some traces of this tool can be seen on the pen's surface. These are not defects but a unique charm and artistic trait of the pen itself. 

Midori-Age up close. The Urushi on this pen is bright and vivid.
The Urushi lacquer is so smooth and glossy that I could not get this image without the fabric's pattern's reflection on the pen's cap and barrel ends.

I'm glad that Wancher sent this fountain pen with a Fine nib. The stainless steel Jowo nib bears the Wancher logo and the nib width (F). It is wet and writes smoothly the first time I inked it. It wrote so well out of the box without any modification or priming prior to use. This nib is one of the smoothest Fine nibs that I have ever tried.

Wancher also offers other nibs for their fountain pens, including stainless steel (SS) and SS gold-plated Jowo (Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, 1.1, and 1.5), Wancher SS and gold-plated SS nibs, rhodium-plated 18k gold (Medium or Broad), and 18k solid gold (Medium or Broad). They are even offering Christmas nibs in Extra Fine and Medium with bells and snowman designs.

This western Fine nib is wet and smooth! One of the smoothest Fine nibs I've ever tried.
Here is the Sekai Midori-Age fountain pen with the Dream Pen True Ebonite.

The Sekai Midori-Age is a medium-sized fountain pen, and it has almost the same length as a Leonardo Furore. It is shorter than the Tibaldi Bononia, Wancher Dream Pen, and Esterbrook Estie Oversize. The section (grip) is also more slender than most of the pens in this line-up, but it is very comfortable to hold when writing.

From the top: Leonardo Officina Italiana Furore Arancio, Tibaldi Bononia Seashell Mist, Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age, Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite Sand Red, and Esterbrook Estie Rocky Top OS.
These pens all have No. 6 nibs.

To test how the Fine nib in Midori-Age writes, I filled it with matching green ink, Robert Oster Mistletoe, a Truphae exclusive. It was my first time using this green ink, and RO Signature Mistletoe looked so good in Midori-Age's wet Fine nib. I chose a quote from one of my favorite books written by a Japanese author, The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa. 

I'm pleased that the stainless steel Fine nib wrote smoothly out of the box, without the need for any adjustments or tuning. I did not experience any hard starts or skipping. The pen wrote smoothly, and I had a fuss-free writing experience with a well-balanced fountain pen.

A combination of firsts — first time to use this green ink in this green pen, writing my first page of book quotes in this Apica notebook. A perfect triple match!
Wancher provides each pen with its own pen kimono. The thick kimono protects the Sekai Midori-Age fountain pen.

I know I said this in my Dream Pen review last year, but in experience as a fountain pen collector and reviewer, I did not imagine being able to try an Urushi pen from Japan. I have seen Urushi pens in other people's collections and they are truly beautiful. The Midori-Age is a wonderful and amazing pen and sometimes I spend minutes just looking at it, enjoying its beauty and thinking of how long it took for this pen to get this beautiful. I am very happy and pleased with the Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age fountain pen, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore the brand and its fountain pens. Wancher has been making unique fountain pens since 2011, with the commitment to use the finest materials and craftsmanship in their products. So what are you waiting for? Get a Wancher Sekai fountain pen in your collection! 

Yes, you want to get one! Our friends at Wancher have kindly offered a discount code for everyone who reads and follows Rants of The Archer! Use the code ARCHER10 at checkout and get 10% off on any Sekai fountain pens that you will purchase! That's an amazing discount for you! Go get a Sekai now!

Rants of The Archer thanks Taizo Okagaki and Wancher Inc. for providing the Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age in this review. This pen is available at Wancher starting at US$450. 

To learn more about Wancher Inc. and its offerings, visit its website at For updates, promos, and giveaways, follow Wancher on social:

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