Fountain pen noob guide: Starter Japanese pens under Php1k

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a Montblanc or a Pelikan as an heirloom, you’re probably hesitant to blow thousands of pesos on your first fountain pen (but if you can, then by all means SPEND!). If this is the case, get your hands on a pen that your wallet won’t regret spending for: choose a Japanese fountain pen.

Choose from one of the Japanese Big 3: Platinum, Sailor, and Pilot. They have a reliable line of fountain pens across various price points, and there are options available under Php1000.

Related reading: The Battle Between Japan’s Big 3 via

  • Platinum

If you chance upon an ivory-colored plastic-bodied fountain pen in Daiso, that is the Platinum Riviere. It is a good starter for Php88, with spare cartridges available at Scribe Writing Essentials. Compared to other fountain pens in Daiso, the Riviere writes in fine even if the nib is marked as medium. The plastic feel might turn you off though.

The next option for Platinum is a Preppy, from Php 195 to Php 275. It introduces you to the world of demonstrators or clear-bodied pens, with lots of colors to choose from. If you also end up preferring eyedropper pens, this one is also a good piece to play with.

UPDATE: Scribe recently brought down the prices of the Platinum Plaisir to Php695.

I got my Platinum Preppy in eyedropper pen from a Noodler’s Heart of Darkness big bottle purchase. The Riviere in the photo is my 4th piece. My first ever pen was a Riviere from a Japan trip, and I lost my first three to borrowers.

  • Sailor

You’d be lucky if you can still find a Sailor fountain pen under Php1000, particularly the Sailor Candy. Scribe Writing Essentials sold them on discount, and I snagged the last pen in black at SM Megamall for around Php 700 two years ago. Shiny plastic body aside, it has the classic look. If you have friends going to Japan, Sailor Candy is available in Itoya and Tokyu Hands. 

This is the last pen I got before entering the world of Fountain Pen Network – Philippines. Yes, it is legitimate group. Join us!

  • Pilot

Yes, the trusty Pilot. If you want a handsome-looking pen on a budget, get your hands on a Pilot 78G (while stocks last, as they are reportedly discontinued) for Php 200- Php400 or a Pilot Metropolitan for Php400- Php700, the latter being more visible in various stores online and offline.

Other cheap options for the Pilot include the Birdie and the Petit. The former is slim, however, smaller than a G-Tec in size. The Petit, although cute, looks like it is more suitable for kids.

L-R: Pilot 78G, Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Birdie. Five of them were purchased from Cosmos Bazar, while one was bought from Everything Calligraphy

I own a piece of all pens mentioned here. My favorite among them are the Sailor Candy in black, followed by the Pilot 78G. The Platinum Riviere holds a sentimental value to me, as it is the pen that got me into this black hole.

There are many other options for starter pens. There’s the Lamy Safari, and some great options from Parker and Sheaffer as well. I don’t have any of those (save for a Sheaffer 300), however, with me leaning towards Japanese fountain pens. Hopefully, we’ll discuss those soon.

So which one would you start with, or buy more of? For collectors, aside from Japanese ones, what other starter pens will you suggest?

Where to buy in the Philippines:
Platinum Riviere: Daiso
Platinum Preppy: Scribe Writing Essentials
Sailor Candy: Scribe Writing Essentials
Pilot 78G: Cosmos Bazar, Everything Calligraphy
Pilot Metropolitan: Cosmos Bazar, Everything Calligraphy, National Bookstore.