A couple weeks ago, I wrote a piece on the Best Fountain Pens for Beginners, and I included on that list a pen that I’d been resisting for some time: The Pilot Kakuno. I’ve read rave reviews of the Kakuno, but until now I had never been able to bring myself to pick one up. That’s probably because I’d only seen them in person at Kinokuniya in NYC, where they sell for about $17—making it more expensive than your typical impulse purchase.
During my research for my “Best Pens” series of articles, I noticed that Amazon was selling the Kakuno for a little over $12 shipped (Prime Eligible). That brought the pen firmly into the sub-$15 “guilt-free impulse buy” zone so I dropped it into my cart when I was doing my weekly household shopping. It’s been my primary pocket carry pen ever since, smiley-faced nib and all.
The Kakuno features what looks like the same nib as the Pilot Metropolitan (plus the signature engraving). I opted for the fine nib, and the nib on my Kakuno is even smoother than the one on my old Metro. The nib has some slight spring to it, but I would still characterize it as fairly stiff (which is fine by me). The pen ships with a cartridge, but I believe most Pilot converters (sold separately) will fit the Kakuno. Pilot’s cartridges are convenient, in that they hold a lot of ink, and the ink is high quality, so I’ll probably just stick with the carts.
Some reviewers have criticized the Kakuno for looking like a child's pen. Other than the smiley, I don’t agree. On the whole, find it much less childlike than other recommended “first pens” such as the Pelikano, the Pelikano Jr., and even the Pelikan Twist or the Platinum Plaisir. Maybe it’s the smiley-face on the nib that sets people off, but the look is relatively understated and not something that most people would notice unless they were staring at the nib of your pen. (I mean, how weird would that be?) Plus, come on people, lighten up. At the end of the day, there are not many pens on the market at $11-12 that write this well, and you need to make work fun when you can.
Bottom line: the Kakuno is an excellent option for someone looking for an inexpensive introduction to fountain pens, or a seasoned fountain pen user who wants a knockaround pen that will write as well as a pen that costs five times as much. That said, if you want to get into bottled ink, or if you work in an ultra-stodgy corporate environment and require “ye olde black pen”, the Metropolitan is probably the better buy because it comes with a converter and certainly won’t turn anyone's heads. It's also selling for around $12 shipped right now. Me? I’m keeping my Kakuno, and using it proudly.
DISCLAIMER: I purchased the pen used in this review with my own funds, for my own collection. This post does contain affiliate links, through which I may be compensated a small amount if you purchase a pen from any of the sites linked to in this article. While I'd greatly appreciate it if you use these links to purchase a pen you are interested in, you are, of course, under no obligation to do so. Many thanks!