Monday, December 6, 2010

A Life-Changing Mechanical Pencil

In America, where the price dictates the quality of our writing instruments and 25¢ pens endlessly abound, the mechanical pencil always just seemed to serve it's function. Sure, the lead was always breaking, and when you write, you have to turn your pencil all the time so that you don't have a sharp edge to cut your paper. The grips are usually uncomfortable and the colors are insipid, the latter of which isn't always bad.

My first trip to Asia, after realizing that I appreciated writing instruments, changed my view on mechanical pencils:

I could just watch 'em turn all day

Walking through a stationery store, I noticed this mechanical pencil, the Uni Kuru Toga. I picked it up and tried to decipher the pictures on the back, since I didn't yet know any Japanese. The concept seemed fascinating. There is a mechanism within the pencil that rotates the lead for you. Now, up until this point, I hadn't actually realized that I was turning my mechanical pencil. I now realized that I didn't have to anymore. I also noticed that because of the point that is created, the lead doesn't break anywhere near as often.

 There isn't too much of a grip on it, but it isn't uncomfortable at all. (Besides, if you wanted one with a grip you could get the Kuru Toga Alpha Gel version anyway) Coming in two lead size variations, I've found this to be the only mechanical pencil I will ever use again. I prefer to use Pentel Ain HB leads, and combined with either the .3 or .5 version of the Kuru Toga, pure bliss ensues. I can write uninterrupted in class and I don't have to worry about the letters being in weird shapes or indecipherable blobs or accidentally ripping holes in my notebook, especially when I'm writing in Japanese. The line is always sharp and sometimes I feel like it is .1mm sharper than the lead number because of the mechanism always keeping the pencil sharp.
The .3 is on the left...

From my experience, any lead that is softer than HB grinds away much too fast for the mechanism to work, and for the .3 version, I would almost say to use a harder lead.  This is a pen that can take the edge off of your work, whether by not having to worry about your writing, or by simply being entertaining.  The colors of this pen are very nice as well, even though with a lot of use, the paint does scratch off.  These pencils are available online at the usual websites, along with the pictures to help understand the internal mechanism.  Uni is supposedly working on bringing a .7 version out, but it is unclear as to when that will happen because the mechanism takes up a decent amount of space in the barrel of the pen.
(written in a Moleskine)

Never again will I use a cheap mechanical pencil, having now lived through the euphoria that is the Kuru Toga. I have 3 and I firmly believe that they are worth every single penny. My addiction to pens ensures that I will still get new pencils, but the Kuru Toga will always have a place on the top of my list.


  1. The Kuru Toga is fantastic, I must say. I wish I could get the mechanism of the Kuru Toga in a body that looks more like the Pentel Graphgear, though I have not tried the high-end Kuru Toga, either.

    I am enjoying your blog so far, and I will be adding you to my blogroll @

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Have you tried the "High Grade" version? It may fill the body type that you're looking for in the Pentel Graphgear. I've never bought one, but thoroughly intend to after a paycheck or two... Here's the link for it:

  3. This is now my favorite mechanical pencil as well. I actually took others off my wish list on JetPens because of this one. Very nice.

  4. Yeah, the reviews are fantastic. I wonder how the mechanism works to turn the lead? I can't wait to get my hands on one.