The Marie Kondo of pens: the Muji round aluminium fountain pen

I adore Muji. The lack of branding. The simple designs. The functional materials. Just walking around its stores is a calming experience, everything just so, everything essential.

It’s a dose of simplicity that I think we all crave right now — the same appeal that Marie Kondo tapped into when she taught us to let go of things that don’t spark joy.

I’ve always felt this way about Japan: its architecture, gardens, tatami mats and martial arts, ceramics and cuisine, Grand Seiko watches and clean-swept streets. It all speaks to simplicity, elegance and efficiency.

Naturally, I attempted to tap in to this ethos by buying a new pen. Namely, the Muji round aluminium fountain pen.

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Spoiler alert: good pen for the price, but did not spark joy.

This is a very distinctive pen, very recognisably Muji. No packaging to speak of, and just 18 euros or 23 dollars. It is superficially very simple, made of matte-finished silver aluminium. The body is long and thin; the cap is short and features a short clip.

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The section is finely knurled for grip.

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The cap doesn’t cover the section; it actually has a lip that slides slightly inside a ring in the the section and finishes flush. The cap posts the same way, flush with the end of the barrel (although the pen is ridiculously long that way).

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The section in turn screws off on metal threads, and takes standard international cartridges. A black cartridge is supplied.

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The cap pulls off to reveal a small silver Schmidt nib, in fine width only. The nib has scrolls and flourishes on it, which is incongruous next to the rather utilitarian lines of the pen itself. Something like the Lamy nib design would have looked better.

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In the hand, this is a very light pen. It’s a good length, and because there’s no step from the section up to the barrel, it’s easy to hold no matter what your grip. Everything is matte finished so there’s no chance of slipping around.

I found that the bead-blasted aluminium “sings” when you run your fingers over it, including the tiny movements during writing. It’s a surprisingly noisy pen to use.

The nib itself is very firm, very narrow, and I found it dries out when left capped for less than a week, despite the presence of a plastic inner cap.

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But it fits with the Muji aesthetic: black ink, narrow lines, no excess of ink splashing on to the page.

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Ultimately, this pen left me cold. It is functional, and in some respects (like the capping mechanism) it’s smart, but without curves, without personality, without expression. And to me that’s not what a pen is — a pen should be more than just a tool.

So while I continue to admire Muji’s aesthetics, its fountain pen did not spark joy, and it won’t stay in my collection for long.

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11 thoughts on “The Marie Kondo of pens: the Muji round aluminium fountain pen

  1. This is clearly a love-hate type of pen, and for me it’d definitely love!
    It’s comfortable to hold and a delightfully wet writer and, unlike the one you’ve reviewed, it never dries out with the cap on: it sits in a box in my desk drawer for months at a time, yet starts instantly (I’ve no idea which ink it’s got in it, the cartridge has been there for so long!).
    I have to admit that I’d never even considered its posted length as it’s so light it really doesn’t matter, but looking at it I take your point that aesthetically it might appear over-long to some.
    For what it costs (mine was under £12 on Amazon from Japan and it used to be about £8 when available in Muji’s UK shops) it’s an absolute bargain.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review and awesome blog! But just a tiny bit of feedback. Not a fan of the ads in the blog post email notifications. Ads on the web page ok, but not so much in the email.
    Thanks! 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t give me the option to configure ads on the emails, RSS etc — if I turn on WordAds at all, it looks like those are on by default.

      Right now creating this blog has cost me hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds, and I think my ad total is at around $16. In return for turning ads back off, I’ll happily consider donations instead if you’re offering…!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree that Ad in email is annoying. Especially it is still same and if it would at least somehow relate to hobby :-).

        I would be happy to support you with few bucks, pounds or Euros. Over time I came to conclusion that one had to pay for good content and your blog is great.

        So if you setup some Patreon or provides your PayPal I think there would be more people willing to support you.

        Like

  3. Thanks for the review. Even at that price I’m not sure it’s a pen for me. It has, however, reminded me of the Tombow Zoom, which is on a vague list of pens to investigate further when I get round to it. It’s a lot more expensive but seems to be well rated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Snippets: the week in stationery | UK fountain pens

  5. Pingback: The Marie Kondo of pens: the Muji round aluminium fountain pen — UK fountain pens – SEO

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