Japanese vs German nibs

One of the first thing I noticed when I got my second fountain pen (A Lamy Safari) was how different Japanese and German nibs were.

On one side you have the very wet and smooth German nibs, and on the other side you’ll find something is a little bit more scratchy. When I say “scratchy” I don’t mean it in a bad way, just in the way where are a little bit more resistance.

I enjoy both.

I’m not going to turn this into a Philosophy discussion. But I’m of the belief that form and substance follows each other. This means that how you write is determined by the kind of the writing instruments and paper that are available to you, and how they develop over time is a result of how you write.

The difference between Western and Eastern writing instruments is huge and obvious. Where western writing instruments like the Lamy 2000 focuses on being smooth and moving across the page with as little friction as possible, does a Pilot Vanishing Point focus on giving you as much control as possible.

My western understanding of languages of the east, like Chinese and Japanese is at best limited. But as I understand it their symbols are more or less the same as a word.

In a western language like Norwegian, French or English, either you write with cursive or not, you move fast, and your letters don’t contain much detail if any at all. This means that you move fast, and moving fast without any friction over the page is more important than a lot of fine grained control.

While in a eastern language on the other hand all the details matter much more, and you don’t need to move that fast over the page, because the lettering is much more detail oriented.

The result is that Western pens like the ones of Lamy is much wetter and broader, while Eastern pens like ones of Pilot is much dryer and finer. Both is a result of the interplay between the writing instruments and the kind of writing they have been used for in the different cultures.

Which is better is a difference of taste. I personally love wet and broad nibs, while others prefer something finer.