Best Japanese Calligraphy Pen - Review and Buying Guide
People talk about Zen this and Zen that all the time. Do you know what it takes to really get Zen? You’re talking about hours of focused concentration, usually on some menial task – like grinding ink stone for hours before etching some wise haiku on an animal bone! Well, that’s the way they did it back in the day.
The ancient art of Japanese calligraphy goes back almost 3,000 years, back when you had to kill some animal and take its bones just to have something to write on. Japanese calligraphy is part of a religious practice mastered by Buddhists known as shodō. It’s used to get super Zen.
In traditional shodō, you can’t correct mistakes. You only have one shot to get it right and others can tell if you’re unsure and hesitant just by the brush strokes. Zen masters spend hours getting in the right frame of mine to do it with a whole big production that goes along with it.
You’ve probably seen it on some Kung Fu movie where they use this brush with a really long handle. They crouch on the floor and use big sweeping arm movements. Today you don’t have to do all that. Hell, you don’t even have to grind your own ink if you don’t want to and you certainly don’t have to kill an animal for its bones.
However, an authentic Japanese calligraphy pen will have a really long handle made out of bamboo or wood and the tips should be made of animal fur like goat or wolf. We went looking for the best Japanese calligraphy pen and here’s what we found.
Want the more modern take on Japanese calligraphy? Check out our post on the best Japanese Brush Pens!
10 Best Japanese Calligraphy Pens
1. Best Overall Japanese Calligraphy Pen
Top of the list is this Chinese Japanese Rewriteable Calligraphy Pen by Thy Collectible. Unlike true Buddhist calligraphy masters, you can cheat with this one. It requires no ink, just water and comes with a writing fabric cloth that you can practice on. When you apply water to the cloth, the strokes look just like ink but vanish after a few minutes so that you can keep practicing.
The pen set comes with 3 different calligraphy brushes plus a rack to hang them on and a water dish for dipping. What we loved so much about this pen set is the beautiful box that it comes in. It’s ideal for giving as a gift or carrying around to your Zen place where you can get quiet and focus.
We put this at the top of the list because you’ll need a practice pen before you are ready to become a one stroke master of Japanese calligraphy. This way you don’t have to waste money on scrolls or reams of rice paper before you get it right.
2. Authentic Japanese Calligraphy Pen made with Wolf Hair
We love this Kanji Japanese Sumi Drawing Brush Set made by Nuolux because it looks so pretty and authentic. Even more than that, the brushes are made of wolf hair the way they are supposed to be. They come in three different brush sizes, a pen holder, and a pen shade to store the brushes in.
This Japanese calligraphy pen has the super long wood handles that we like and they are made for both painting and writing. You’ll need to buy ink and paper separately which gives you the choice to go really authentic and purchase an ink stone and grinding bowl or cheat and buy a jug of ink to dip your brushes in.
If you’re going to invest in a Japanese calligraphy pen like this, we suggest really trying to do the whole Zen thing. It’s a calming and relaxing hobby plus you may just come up with a real masterpiece.
3. Three-Piece Goat and Wolf Hair Japanese Calligraphy Pens
Coming in at number three on our list are these beautiful modern looking authentic Yong He Feng Brushes from MasterChinese. Made with real jian hao (goat and wolf hair to you), each brush comes in a different size from 3.7 centimeters up to 5 centimeters. The brushes become swollen when dipped in water – very absorbent which is great for Japanese calligraphy writing.
The stylish wooden handles are long and designed for maximum comfort. You can practice your art work for hours without getting hand cramps. This pen is the perfect clash of old and new. They look modern but have the features of an old world Japanese calligraphy pen.
With this pen set you only get the brushes. You’ll have to buy your own rice paper or fabric writing cloth to go with it. You can grind an ink stone or buy some ink – your choice but again, that’s kind of like cheating.
4. Versatile Ink and Water Based Chinese Calligraphy Set
This Japanese Sumi Calligraphy Drawing Brush Pen is also made with real wolf hair. Made by Asiv, this is a three piece pen set – the brush heads come in small, medium, and large. It’s got a wooden shaft that’s long and elegant and comfortable in the hand.
Professional Japanese calligraphers use these brushes but they are also good for beginners too. The wolf hair brush heads make clear, solid strokes which makes it easier for beginners to write with them – kind of like having a big thick lead pencil that you don’t have to press down on very hard to make a mark.
You’ll see this exact Japanese calligraphy pen in some of the top named art schools around the world or in the desks of some of the best calligraphers. It makes a great gift or keep it yourself to make extraordinary works of Japanese art (ink and paper not included).
5. Fude Style Felt Tip Japanese Calligraphy Pen
There are all kinds of Japanese calligraphy writing styles. This Felt Tip Japanese Fude Brush Pen by Kuretake is a no-fuss Japanese calligraphy pen. It is double sided with each end representing a different type of tip. One side is felt; the other is a point tip pen.
What’s unique about this pen is that you can use it as a run-of-the-mill office pen but then take out the felt tip on your break time and practice your Japanese calligraphy technique. You should figure out what the writing on the pen actually says though – if you use it in the office, people are bound to ask you.
And you’ll want to keep a close eye on this pen. It’s not the kind you want to loan to someone for a second and forget all about it. But it does make an excellent gift for people who like fancy pens!
6. Another Fude Japanese Calligraphy Pen (for Manga-Style Calligraphy)
Here’s another Japanese calligraphy pen designed for a specific type of writing. This is the Bimoji Fude Felt Tip Brush Pen made by Zig for Manga-style Japanese calligraphy writing. It has a medium brush head for making solid pen strokes and although it’s made of felt, the size of the brushes create marks that resemble genuine animal hair brush strokes.
This is a water based ink pen. When you run out of ink, you can’t refill it. You’ll have to buy another one. Still, the ink like the brush head is designed to make authentic looking calligraphy strokes without using real animal hair or ground ink from an ink stone.
If you are just a dabbler in Japanese calligraphy, this is the pen of choice for you. You don’t have to be a Zen master to pull off great looking Japanese calligraphy with this one and it can be used for everyday writing.
7. Three-Piece Japanese Calligraphy Brush Pen
You’ll notice this 3-piece Japanese Calligraphy Pen Set by Muitobom does not have the distinctive long wooden handles but they are made for skillful Japanese calligraphy writing. Each of the three different pens comes with a different tip style for creating different types of lines.
One has a brush head for large, thick strokes. One has a medium sized felt tip for making finer lines and the smallest one can be used for everyday writing as well as Japanese calligraphy. Inside of each pen is a high quality ink that does not fade over time.
Like modern pens, these come with a clamp cap so that the ink doesn’t dry up – as long as you remember to put it back on. You won’t need a lot of extras to go with this pen; just some paper or Japanese calligraphy tiles to write on.
8. Three-Piece Japanese Sumi Drawing Brush Pen Gift Set
Maybe you don’t know much about calligraphy but you know someone who does. If so, you can’t go wrong with this gorgeous authentic Lang Hao (Wolf Hair) Japanese Calligraphy Pen made by They Collectible. This 3-piece set comes in a lovely oriental gift box – the perfect gift for the artist in your life.
Made with real wolf hair – like they’re supposed to be – these pens are Hu style and very versatile. Each brush head is designed to produce a different stroke. Using authentic animal hair keeps the ink from dripping and is super absorbent so that no ink is wasted.
You won’t need a separate ink well for this pen. Its barrel holds more ink than the typical pen. Specifically made for Japanese calligraphy, this is an excellent choice for amateur calligraphers who want to practice before putting ink to stationery.
9. Japanese Calligraphy Pen Set in Fude Style with Colored Sticky Notes
True, these Japanese Pentel Fude Moji Ink Pens from Fude Brush Pen are not made with the authentic slender wooden handles or animal hair but they are great for making immaculate pen strokes. The set comes with 3 Japanese calligraphy pens in fine, medium, and super fine tips.
You can use these bad boys for both calligraphy art writing and drawing or in the office since it comes with multi-colored sticky notes. How awesome would it be if you left a sticky note for someone written in genuine Japanese calligraphy using one of these pens!
Can you read Japanese? You will have to be able to in order to understand the instructions. These pens are made in Japan and all of the printing on the package – including the instructions – are written in Japanese. Good for you that you know someone who reads Japanese, right?
10. Refillable Fude Japanese Calligraphy Pen
Last on our list is this handy refillable Fude-style Japanese Calligraphy Pen made by Platinum. Made for both everyday writing and calligraphy, the brush head is soft and only comes in a fine point tip. The best thing about this pen is that the ink is refillable.
These pens are made in Japan so you won’t be able to find them in stores here in the USA. And the instructions and packaging are written in Japanese so if you don’t speak the language, hopefully you have a friend or family member who does!
If you aren’t that interested in becoming a Zen master level calligrapher but just like the way these pens write, we think you’ll really dig this one. If you want something more authentic, see the top of the list for our best of the best!
Best Accessories for Your Japanese Calligraphy Pen
Like always, we don’t think you should stop at just buying the pen. Actually, for most of the best Japanese calligraphy pen sets on this list, you will need some accessories to go with it. Here are our top picks to get the most out of your new pen:
1. Shodō Book of Japanese Zen Calligraphy
If your goal is Zen level relaxation, you need the Shodō: The Quiet Art of Japanese Zen Calligraphy book. It’s not just a book of calligraphy art; it actually teaches you about Zen Buddhism imparting ancient wisdom that has guided Buddhist monks for thousands of years.
2. Paper Board for Japanese Calligraphy Fine Art
Before you start writing on these boards, you’ll want to practice. There are only 5 boards per pack of Tanzaku Shikishi Haiku Paper Board by Japan Art, but they are ideal for creating Japanese artwork, especially for writing haikus. It’s just enough space to write a wise 5 line haiku in the traditional Japanese style. Bordered in gold, you can use ink or watercolor on these paper boards.
3. Genuine Ink Stone for Japanese Calligraphy Art
You’ve got your pen, now you’ll need some ink. You could buy a bottle of ink or try doing it the way it’s meant to be done – with genuine ink stone. The Japanese Chinese Calligraphy Ink Stick and Stone from Measylife comes with a non-slip grinding pad, ink stone, and ink sticks.