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2017 Seoul Pen Show (Spring)

It’s that time of year again! Spring has finally sprung, and the Seoul Pen Show is afoot. Well, actually, it has already happened. This past weekend, the Penhood Seoul Pen Show 2017 was held in the Gangnam area, setting it apart from previous years where the venue was closer to Dongguk University. That wasn’t the only departure from previous years, however. This year’s pen show had a set schedule of classes and lectures on topics of interest to the pen community. Here is a translation of the schedule they posted on their website of the days events:

 

10:30 “Freesia” Penhood fountain pen ink sale (first come first serve)
11:00 – 12:40 Pen Show Lectures
(11:00) Notes on vintage pens
(11:30) Methods for proper writing
(12:00) Domestic (Korean) fountain pens
(12:30) Pencil hand-sharpening techniques
1:00 – 3:00 Auction
3:00 Final sales of “Freesia” Penhood fountain pen ink (first come first serve)
3:30 – 5:10 Pen Show Lectures
(3:30) How to use eBay
(4:00) One point handwriting fix
(4:30) “Is this normal?”
(5:00) Q&A
5:15 Pen Show Bingo!

 

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend all of the events throughout the day, but I was able to arrive for many of the programs after lunch. This year, the room the pen show was held in was a bit larger to accommodate new tables including a paper-making station and a calligraphy station. When I arrived, it seemed like there were fewer patrons than previous years I attended, but it may be the timing of my arrival as people were finishing their lunch break. There were fewer pens on display, but I saw a lot of familiar faces and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The fact that the venue was quite a bit further out than the previous years may have also contributed to the final attendance numbers.

Penhood “Freesia” fountain pen ink

That being said, the lectures seemed to draw a lot of interest and there were a lot of young faces in the crowd. The paper-making booth seemed to be drawing a lot of attention as well. I arrived just in time to acquire one of the final bottles of this year’s Penhood fountain pen ink, “Freesia.” It’s a sort of greenish, yellow color and I look forward to making a full review of it. Patrons even received a handful of freesia flowers in keeping with the theme.

There is a lot going on in my life at the moment, but I am happy that I was able to make it out to the Seoul Pen Show 2017. I’ll be coming back to making pen and ink reviews in the near future, so stay tuned!

2016 Seoul Pen Show (Spring)

2016 Seoul Pen Show

I almost missed the pen show this year. Thankfully, I received an email from a reader who was inquiring about the details of this years show which prompted me to discover that it would be much held much earlier than last year.

This is, of course, the Seoul Pen Show organized and hosted by the Korean pen community known as Penhood. So, on a beautiful and bright Saturday (April 9th), I headed on over to the Dongguk University area to attend. Unlike last year, there was no massive line outside. Perhaps it is because I went around lunchtime, but I’m just glad I didn’t have to wait too long to get inside. The show was held in the same room as the previous two years, but it seemed a little less packed than in 2015. That being said, there was still plenty to see.

2016 Seoul Pen Show

As you can see, there was tons of fountain pen inks, rare pens, and enthusiasts with their collections adoring the various booths. It’s always great to see other fountain pen and ink aficionados sharing the love.

When you enter the pen show, you are assigned a number (as long as you registered on their website before attending [Addendum: It may have been possible to get a raffle number by showing up without registering as well.]) that will be used for a raffle during the course of the day. Through a series of fortunate events, I managed to be in the show room during the final call of the raffle. They were giving out just 50 bottles of a special 2016 Penhood Pen Show Ink made specially for this event. Out of almost 300 attendants, I figured the best chance I had to try out the ink would be to see if someone would be willing to decant a sample for me.

2016 Seoul Pen Show

Finally, the announcer called out to say the final round of winning numbers and, believe it or not, my number was called. I couldn’t believe it. So here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the 2016 Penhood Pen Show Ink bottle.

2016 Seoul Pen Show Ink

Of course, a full review will be available soon, so keep an eye out! It is a lovely shade of blue.

Well, that will do it for this year’s spring pen show. Hopefully I will find some time to get back to writing reviews. Thanks for stopping by!

2015 Seoul Pen Show (Spring)

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It’s that time of year again~ Spring is in the air and pen shows are popping up all around the world. Of course, Seoul is no exception and the Penhood community in Seoul organized their annual Spring pen show on Saturday, April 25th. The weather was unseasonably warm having been quite cold just a week before. While the warm weather was certainly a welcome change, it did make waiting in line outside in the hot sun less of an appealing aspect. Luckily, the wait wasn’t incredibly long, and soon I was amidst the pulsing throngs of patrons seeking to satiate their lust for beautiful writing utensils.

2015 Seoul Pen Show

Though the space was confined to the usual mid-sized conference room, there was plenty to see and plenty to do for the waves of people swimming through the cramped aisles. Fountain pens of all sizes and ages, many different bottles of inks, and plenty of Penhood exclusives that have been put on sale by the community over the years (not to mention the occasional rare Korean fountain pen). It was another successful show, and my only regret is that I could not stay longer to make a few purchases. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.


モリタ万年筆店

On an unassuming street in the heart of Osaka, Japan is a small fountain pen shop owned and operated by Seiji Morita (森田 誠ニ). Despite its size, Mr. Morita’s shop has gained popularity within the international fountain pen community for his fair pricing, excellent service, and special exclusive inks and pens made specifically for his shop. During my latest visit to Osaka, I decided to dedicate some time to speak with Mr. Morita about his store and about fountain pens in general. It was a warm summer’s day, heavy with humidity and the sound of cicadas filling the air. In his small air conditioned shop, I inquired about the history of the store as he quietly went about his business of adjusting displays and delicately cleaning pens.

The Morita Fountain Pen Shop was originally opened by Mr. Morita’s father in 1946 during the period of post-WWII reconstruction. Although a large portion of the country was based in agriculture, a shift towards heavy industry and technology was just over the horizon. At the time, many Japanese businessmen needed fountain pens in order to sign contracts and other business related materials—items like fountain pens and lighters were even more prominent status symbols in the business world than they are today. Parker fountain pens, in particular, were highly sought after. Therefore, opening a store that catered to these up-and-coming professionals seemed like a lucrative business prospect. Although the exact location has changed slightly over the years, the shop has never strayed far from Kitahama Station.

 

The shop has a wide assortment of pens on display

 

Over the decades, technology has transformed fountain pens from a ubiquitous tool used almost daily, into a niche hobby by a sizable community of collectors and writers. Undeterred by the overwhelming digitization of communication, Mr. Morita remains resolved in his thought that the unique experience of writing with fountain pens will continue to draw in new members to the ranks. He explained that his shop is visited by both the young and old alike, and he believes that since young people usually communicate with cellphones and the internet, they become interested in fountain pens because it is something different and unusual. Even though the world of communication has become inexorably digitized, new faces always seem to find their way into the world of pens and inks.

 

 

Even in the face of online shopping eclipsing physical stores in popularity, he reasserts the importance of trying out fountain pens before you purchase them. Each pen has a different weight and feel, and each nib has its own properties that may be better suited to one person’s tastes over another’s. And, like any good shop owner, he enjoys his work for the satisfaction and smiles of his customers when they find the right pen. It is difficult to say if running a physical shop will be sustainable into the distant future, but for now Mr. Morita seems more than happy to dedicate his time and efforts into bringing something personal and unique to the fountain pen world.

If you ever find yourself in Osaka, I highly recommend paying Mr. Morita a visit. He is very kind and accommodating, and his shop has two exclusive ink colors made by Sailor (Shade Green and Wine) as well as an exclusive color Sailor Professional Gear and Professional Gear Slim. The colors for the inks and pens were personally chosen by Mr. Morita and certainly add to the experience of visiting his shop.

 

The two Sailor ink colors made exclusively for the Morita Pen Shop

The two Sailor ink colors made exclusively for the Morita Pen Shop

 

I asked Mr. Morita if he’d be willing to pose for a photo but he politely declined. Regardless, I want to thank him for taking the time to speak to me, and for allowing me to take some photos of his shop!

And a special thank you to my interpreter, Takashi Komatsu! 

 

 

 

Website: http://morita.ne.jp/

E-mail: pen@morita.ne.jp

Directions: The Morita Fountain Pen Shop (モリタ万年筆店) is located in the Chūō-ku ward (中央区) of Osaka (大阪) just out of Kitahama Station (北浜駅). Come out of exit 6 and turn left. Walk to the first corner and take another left and you will see the shop on the left side of the road. It’s really easy to get to, but I took some photos just in case. Kitahama Station is located on the Osaka Municipal Subway lines, not the JR lines. If you are coming from Osaka Station, you will have to make a transfer. If you prefer physical activity, you may consider walking as there are a few interesting things to see along the way.

Come out of exit 6 at Kitahama Station and turn left

Go to the first corner and turn left

You will see the shop on the left side of the street.

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2014 Seoul Pen Show


2014SeoulPenShow_01

 

I had the opportunity to check out the Seoul Pen Show this year hosted by the tight-knit online community, Penhood.

 

The show was held in a small conference room near the heart of Seoul, South Korea. Despite the small size of the room, the show was bustling! There were tables full of beautiful vintage pens on display and people were crowding around to test out some of their most sought after pens. It was great to see the level of interest in fountain pens here in Korea, and the show was much busier than I imagined it would be. I definitely think they could have upgraded to a slightly larger room because navigating the narrow spaces between the tables started to become very difficult as people came and went. However, the lighthearted atmosphere of people coming together to discuss their love of fountain pens and inks is lovely sight to behold. Sadly, I couldn’t spend much time at the show, but I had a great time looking around and talking with a few people. I look forward to next year!

 

2014SeoulPenShow_05

 

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