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.

33 Kommentare zu „Mitsubishi Kouhitsu Shosha“

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

  4. 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. 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-blog/super-kidsland/files/2013/08/e3158e91d54ccb3fd1d5e8dd6dcf7751.jpg ) und eine Art Mäpp­chen mit Blei­stift­stän­der ( http://ameblo.jp/uma-bros/image-11468458890-12416183789.html )).

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

  8. 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 :)

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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…

  12. 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 …

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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 :)

  16. 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?

  17. 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! :)

  18. 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)“.

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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? ;)

  24. 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 : ^ }} .

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. Pingback: Mitsubishi Penmanship Pencils | pencils and other things

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