Eine Kostbarkeit aus Japan Spitzer spitzen (6½) 

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Im Sortiment des japanischen Herstellers Mitsubishi gibt es einen ganz besonderen Bleistift.

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Die Kanji-Zeichen 硬筆書写用 auf dem Bleistift stehen für „kouhitsu” (硬筆), „shosha” (書写) und „yo” (用)1. „Kouhitsu” bedeutet wörtlich „fester Pinsel” und bezeichnet Bleistift, Kugelschreiber, Feder, Füllfederhalter o. ä. (das Gegenstück ist „mouhitsu”, 毛筆, der wei­che Pinsel). „Shosha” steht für Schönschreiben und Kalligraphie, und das nachgestellte „yo” bedeutet „zu diesem Zweck”. Kurz: Dieser Bleistift dient zum Erlernen einer schönen Handschrift und wird meist von Schulkindern beim Abschreiben einzelner Zeichen oder kur­zer Sätze genutzt, und so nenne ich ihn hier „Kouhitsu Shosha” (den in seiner Heimat für diesen Stift üblichen Namen kenne ich nicht).

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Den Kouhitsu Shosha gibt es nur in 4B und 6B, dafür aber sowohl drei- als auch sechs­flächig.

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Der Härtegrad findet sich nicht nur auf den Seiten, sondern auch auf dem Käppchen2 und als Farbring, der sehr zu der in meinen Augen geschmackvollen Gestaltung beiträgt. – We­niger schön ist der allgegenwärtige Strichcode, der jedoch entgegen dem sonst Üblichen zwei- statt einfarbig gedruckt wurde und so dem Lesegerät einen noch besseren Kontrast bietet.

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Die Mine des Kouhitsu Shosha ist beeindruckende 4 mm dick und hat nur beste Eigen­schaften: Sie ist außerordentlich bruchstabil, gleitet sehr leicht, hat eine äußerst saubere, sparsame Abgabe und schwärzt sehr gut. Bis jetzt ist mir noch kein anderer Bleistift dieses Härtegrads mit vergleichbaren Eigenschaften untergekommen!

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Darüber, wie man diese erreicht, kann ich nur spekulieren, doch vielleicht gibt der Aufdruck „Pressure-Proofed Hi-Density Lead” Aufschluss. Bei den deutschen Herstellern kamen frü­her Dreiwalzenstühle zum Einsatz, um die Minenmasse zu verdichten und Agglomerate auf­zubrechen; aus Kostengründen ging man später auf andere Verfahren über. Ich vermute daher, dass die Minenmasse dieses Bleistifts stärker verdichtet wird als bei anderen Blei­stiften und man so dieses hervorragende Ergebnis erzielt; vielleicht hat man auch noch eini­ges über die Imprägnierung gemacht.

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Ja, selbst das Spitzen mit dem pingeligen Faber-Castell Janus 4048 ist problemlos möglich3, und die Spitze hält sogar beim Kouhitsu Shosha 6B stärkerem Andruck stand. – Unnötig zu sagen, dass sich das Holz im Handspitzer sehr leicht schneiden lässt.

Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

Ein Foto kann den Abstrich dieses grandiosen Bleistifts leider nur unzureichend wiederge­ben, aber vielleicht einen Eindruck vermitteln. – Auch wenn mir bereits die 4B-Variante für das alltägliche Schreiben zu weich ist, so macht es doch Freude, beide Härtegrade hin und wieder für kurze Notizen oder kleine Skizzen zu nutzen.

Ich habe den Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha bei Bundoki gekauft und pro Stück umgerechnet etwa 1 Euro bezahlt.

  1. Die der japanischen Sprache Kundigen mögen über kleine Ungenauigkeiten hinwegsehen, mich aber bitte auf grobe Fehler hinweisen.
  2. Ein kurzer Blick mit dem Messer zeigt, dass das Käppchen aus Kunststoff besteht und auf einem geschärfelten Ende sitzt.
  3. Es ist natürlich sinnvoller, einen Spitzer mit stumpferem Konus zu benutzen, damit man mehr von der Mine hat.

Stichwörter: Mitsubishi

33 Kommentare zu „Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha”

  1. Sean

    Incredible photos!

    I think that the Penmanship 4B is the smoothest pencil I have ever used, including the Blackwing. Unfortunately it’s just a little too soft for regular use.

    I might be wrong, but to me this penmanship pencil 4B feels smoother than the regular Hi-Uni 4B, which leads me to believe there is an extra component to its lead formula. If they could just do the same to either their B or 2B, it would be an incredible pencil.

  2. OJ

    Darf ich fragen, wie hoch die Versandkosten aus Japan ausfallen, wenn man nur ein paar Bleistifte bestellt? Ich habe zwar selber schon bei Bundoki angefragt, allerdings auch nach mehreren Tagen noch ohne Antwort.

  3. OJ

    Und gleich noch eine Frage: ist der Abstrich auch wischfester als bei herkömmlichen 4B und 6B-Stiften?

  4. Lexikaliker

    Thank you, Sean! Yes, it is also the smoothest pencil I have ever used, and I too wish they would offer it in HB, B or 2B – it would indeed be an incredible pencil (and would most likely set a new standard). Regarding the formula: It could also be possible that both the graphite and the clay for this pencil are ground finer and more evenly. Besides that I wouldn't be surprised if they use a special wax for impregnating. – By the way, a higher compression would also account for the pen­cil's economy.

    Here's another photo (a look behind the scenes, so to speak; on the left a Higonokami pocket knife):

    Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha

    OJ: Die Versandkosten für ein paar Bleistifte kenne ich leider nicht. – Es tut mir leid zu hören, dass noch keine Antwort kam, aber auch ich warte auf eine. Früher kam spätestens nach zwei Tagen eine Reaktion; keine Ahnung, woran das liegt. – Die Wischfestigkeit ist ebenfalls sehr gut, auch wenn sich natürlich härtegradbedingt der Abstrich beider Grade leicht verwischen lässt; einen Ver­gleich habe ich jedoch noch nicht vorgenommen.

  5. Matthias

    Die Gestaltung der letzten Zentimeter, schwarz - grün - gold - rot, ist sehr schön! Es gibt immer wieder ungewöhnliche Bleistifte und Zubehör aus Japan zu entdecken. (Meine letzten virtuellen Entdeckungen waren Eisenbahn Bleistifte ( http://shop.joshin.co.jp/shop-.....cf7751.jpg ) und eine Art Mäppchen mit Bleistiftständer ( ameblo.jp/uma-bros/imag.....83789.html )).

  6. Lexikaliker

    Ja, diese Farbzusammenstellung ist wirklich sehr gelungen! – Der japanische Schreibwarenmarkt bietet wieder Überraschungen, selbst Betrachtern aus der Ferne. Ich wüsste gerne, was man noch alles sieht, wenn man vor Ort ist … – Die Eisenbahbleistifte sind sehr schön (bei pencil talk gab es ja auch schon einige Sets von Tombow und Mitsubishi zu sehen). Das Etui ist pfiffig! Außer einem Stifteständer ist offenbar noch ein Spitzer integriert.

  7. Matthias

    Die Eisenbahnbleistifte kamen mir bekannt vor, ich konnte mich aber nicht erinnern wo ich sie schon einmal gesehen habe. Danke für die Links.

  8. Lexikaliker

    Bitte, gerne! Bei pencil talk gibt es übrigens noch einige andere Sets außer den verlinkten zu sehen.

  9. Sola

    Hi Gunther,

    I was writing with this pencil just now and I think I understand its function and properties a bit better. When children use this pencil to write (oversized) Japanese characters, they press down really hard at times, so much that they are covered in sweat after a few pages. On the other hand the blackness required to express the gradation of the strokes probably means that the pencil grade itself cannot go above 4B (in the direction of the H’s). Mitsubishi seems to have achieved a remarkable result indeed with this pencil, which is very dark but break-resistant (”Pressure-Proofed”).

    It also makes me think that not many Westerners will use this pencil in the way it is supposed to be. I tried writing Copperplate with it (with its rhythmical press-down-release-press-down move­ments) but with Western scripts the line thickens noticeably within the word. Well, you get the idea :)

  10. Sola

    Oh, and that also makes me suspect that the ordinary Hi-Uni pencils in the same grade (4B, 6B) are probably not as strong.

  11. Lexikaliker

    Sola, these details are illuminating! I begin to understand at least a small part of the world behind these pencils, the Fude Enpitsu 10B and the Mitsubishi Hi-uni 8B Super DX. To Westerners they may appear only as attempts to extend the product line or even as mere gimmicks but the fact that they are produced for a definite purpose puts them in a completely different light, especially in view of their excellent quality. Now I see why even the 6B can be sharpened with the Janus 4048 (which is unthinkable with pencils of the same grade from other manufacturers).

    It's curious to learn that using this pencil for its intended purpose is resulting in sweaty hands. Besides that, its purpose puts the pencil into the category with e. g. the Kuru Toga – these writing implements can show their full potential only in connection with certain writing systems and char­acters. – Yes, I too think that the corresponding grades of the regular Hi-uni are not as break-resistant.

  12. Sola

    I am not familiar with the Kuru-Toga but similar things happen with fountain pens, too. Many Asians are enthralled with Western vintage flex pens, but I really feel that these pens were made to write the flowing alphabet cursive of the land of their birth, with few pen lifts in between. When you try to write Asian scripts with it the effect is like writing printed letters with flex pens…

  13. Sola

    Oh, and the kids sweat all over, not only from their hands ;)

  14. Lexikaliker

    It's exciting to see that the style of writing has its impact on fountain pen nips too. Maybe the flexible nibs are enthralling because they are unusual?

    I now feel a little pity on the children – I hope it's only a matter of training.

    By the way, I have always tried to apply the claim „Pressure-proofed” to the manufacturing pro­cess, not on the pencil's use. Now I know why it hasn't made sense to me …

  15. Sola

    Me too - but when I was in the middle of a stroke I happened to glance at the imprint and suddenly it hit me: the lead is not going to break even if I press this hard! And it is really amazing that they made 8B and even 10B break-resistant. Maybe that technology’s what’s reflected in the price.

    And yes, flexible nibs are exotic, and they are softer to the touch. I think they work well with certain styles of Asian writing styles, e.g. Chinese or Japanese script rapidly written with a lot of abbreviations that flow from top to bottom, but not with most everyday writing.

  16. Lexikaliker

    Yes, the resistance to breakage of these pencils is indeed amazing. As I have already guessed in the posting they may have achieved it by an extreme compaction of the lead mass; this could also explain why especially the Penmanship pencils are remarkable at keeping their point. I have also read that a specially formulated oiled grahite is the reason for the pencil's smoothness, and since its writing can't be erased completely even with a very good eraser I am inclined to believe that.

    It just came to my mind: Aren't these flexible nibs able to mimic the characteristic style of the brush? And: Isn't this enhanced by the bent nib e. g. of the Hero 578 and the Sailor DE pens?

  17. Sola

    Western flexible nibs and the Hero-style Chinese calligraphy nibs have different effects. Western calligraphy is basically a contrast of thick and thin strokes, and the flexible nib is designed to deliver a thick downwards stroke when pressed. The horizonal strokes stay thin. However, in Eastern calligraphy, you sometimes need to have thick horizontal strokes (and variations in thickness in a single stroke) as well, and bent nibs such as the Hero allow you to produce these by adjusting the angle of the nib. So the principles are somewhat different, and some are more successful than others. For me it is very interesting to see how a pencil maker has interpreted the brush and applied it to a material that is basically rigid and fixed in width :)

  18. Lexikaliker

    Ah, I see – thank you for the clarification. The concept „pencil as a brush” must initially have appeared a little odd but they have achieved a remarkable result! – By the way: Does Mit­subishi recommend a particular sharpener for this pencil and its special use?

  19. Sola

    Hmm, they don’t say anything about sharpeners as far as I can see, but if I see anything I will let you know. However, I looked up Pentel CDT pencils (as I got a box in the mail today) and they say they recommend using CDT erasers with it, probably because of the particular carbon graphite formula? But I guess you have one already! :)

  20. Lexikaliker

    Thank you – this would be great. By the way: It still puzzles me that Japanese pencil manufactur­ers don't don't have a single high-quality metal sharpener in their product range (at least I haven't found one yet), especially in view of the high standards of metal processing in Japan.

    Yes, I have the CDT eraser, but I am not very impressed. It's OK but can't compete with the ones mentioned in the first paragraph of „Top Two (3)”.

  21. junius

    Hi Gunther, Tim at The Writing Arsenal just put up a post about the Uni Penmanship pencil which led me back here because Sola mentioned you and she had also discussed it. I don’t know how I missed this before. Thank you both for this wonderful colloquy on a fascinating class of semi-specialized pencils. Regarding the claim of „Pressure-proofed”, it is my idea too that this is achieved by super-fine milling of the ingredients. Do you think there is some sort of additional mechanical compression of the slurry before the extrusion of the lead, or is the combination of the milling and the heat of the oven enough by themselves to give us this wonderfully dark, smooth, hardy graphite?

  22. Lexikaliker

    junius, thank you for mentioning Tim's post about the Penmanship pencil and your kind words. – I think the super-fine milling is the most important factor. Many years ago German pencil manufac­turers have used triple roll mills to break up agglomerates and to compress the lead mass; maybe Mitsubishi uses something similar still today. I also think that both the graphite and the clay for these pencils is very pure. Their finish is excellent too – such a precise printing on several sides and on the lacquer cap is something special.

    Do you know the Mitsubishi Hi-uni Super-DX 8B? If not, get one – you will be amazed.

  23. junius

    Oh yes, I have been fascinated by the Fude-Enpitsu 10B and the Super-DX 8B since Pencil Talk and Dave’s Mechanical Pencils blogged about them way back when. Stephen even wrote about an even rarer Mitsubishi pencil, possibly a commemorative issue, I don’t recall. I do remember the lacquer was the richest I have ever seen on a pencil, it shimmered, and the pencil came in its own specially folded cloth or wrapper. I know he felt lucky to get one. The printing was fairly minimal I think.

  24. Lexikaliker

    Oh, the Fude-Enpitsu 10B! This is another excellent pencil I can't stop marvelling at. – Regarding the other pencil: Do you mean this one?

  25. junius

    Hah, yes, thanks Gunther! That is it exactly. It is fascinating to learn from Sola that Urushi used to be an affordable luxury aesthetic applied to everyday items for domestic consumption in Japan, but is no longer economical or practical to do so. I’m not sure if I understand the extent to which Urushi was used. Was it actually applied to ephemeral goods, i.e. items that are used up rather than just used (woodcase pencil versus fountain pen for instance), or is Mitsubishi’s commemorative merely a sly nod (to a vanishing artisanal tradition) which draws attention to itself by overstating the uses to which Urushi was put?

    If I recall, this HB anniversary pencil was prohibitively expensive ($30-$50 apiece) which partly explains why since its release no one I know of at least has written about the qualities of the graphite, but more to the point, what connoisseur scrapes the paint off a Vermeer to satisfy an itch about what lies underneath? What could be so radically different about this lead that in the face of a ready supply of Mono 100’s and Hi-Unis one could bring oneself to whittle away the glorious Urushi? And yet, I really, really want to know how it writes. I can’t believe after all these years no one has uncorked this rare vintage to see how it tastes! The ultimate pencil is the one you never get to use.

  26. Sola

    Hi Junius, thank you for your words. I’m glad this discussion was of interest to others too! I’ll just touch upon the urushi: actually the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word is dinnerware (crockery). You know, those wooden bowls that you eat rice and miso soup out of, and chopsticks too. Although it would have cost, most households would have had them, and many again would have used them on a daily basis (still do, but less so now). Japanese Wikipedia says urushi was also used on furniture and musical instruments. So the bowls were not exactly perishable, but they were used every day even though people knew they would wear down.

    Regarding the special-edition Hi-Uni: I never doubted it was the regular version underneath. Or isn’t it? ;)

  27. junius

    Thank you for this explanation, Sola, what proud wares to create and use! When Stephen wrote about the Urishi for Pencil Talk, he demonstrated in his photos how deceptively simple appearing the pencil’s lacquer is. I don’t know how to explain it, but in the right light it has an inner and outer color of great warmth.

    You know, I think Stephen asked that very same question about the lead. Judiciously, he was in no hurry to find out the answer : ^ }} .

  28. Lexikaliker

    Sola and junius, thank you for the details regarding urushi.

    junius, I don't know Mitsubishi's thoughts about this special pencil (and I doubt that I will ever know).

    Sola, I have no doubt that it is a regular Hi-uni.

    I don't think that I will ever use it – the lacquer is just too beautiful (and the pencil to rare). I wish I was able to take photos which show the warmth and the real colours.

  29. junius

    Gunther, revisiting your photographs of the special pencil I noticed something I have never seen on any other pencil. The undercoat of the lacquer is blue. In the past whenever the undercoat of regular pencils caught my attention it has been because it is white and glaringly peeks out. This blue undercoat brings to mind the captivating interplay of blue and red notes of some luxury fountain pen inks. Now I wonder if blue is the base color for all urushi.

  30. Lexikaliker

    It could be possible that blue is the base colour but I am not so sure about it – since the main lacquer allows the base colour to shine through other base colours could be used to create different effects.

  31. Robert M.

    I’m late to this party, but then again I was pretty early too; I wrote a review for these on JetPens in 2010, and I think I mentioned them a few times with glowing praise on PencilTalk and other places.

    A favorite for sure, even though I like super-fine lines and have to sharpen them somewhat frequently.

  32. Lexikaliker

    Robert M., thank you for your comment. I think I can remember your praise back on pencil talk back then, and Stephen's review of these pencils as well as the comments (including yours) made be buy them. They are incredible, and I haven't found any comparable ones yet!

  33. Mitsubishi Penmanship Pencils | pencils and other things

    […] ones. I first saw the Mitsubishi Penmanship (Kouhitsu Shosha-yo 硬筆書写用) pencil on Lexikaliker and have left comments on other blogs about it since then, but maybe this is a good time to […]

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