Review of the Pilot Decimo – Fountain-pens as souvenirs?

During the summer of 2016 I went on a trip to Japan. Prior to setting of to my destination I was aware about the rich tradition the country had on stationery and in particular fountain-pens. I had therefore planned to start a new tradition of my own where I would purchase a locally produced writing instrument as a souvenir to mark my travels starting in Japan.

I was not certain about which pen to choose but I was always attracted to the utility of a retractable nib pen. Even though initially the Pilot Vanishing Point did not catch my eye in terms of beauty, it slowly grew on me. It thus became my pen of choice when I finally visited the iconic Itoya stationery shop in Ginza, Tokyo.


The pen I purchased was the Pilot Vanishing Point (Capless in Japan) Decimo in the blue trim with silver furniture. Compared to the normal VP, the Decimo is slightly thinner and lighter. Naturally the clip is also thinner making it easy to grip and I have found to often use it as a marker in order to grip the pen consistently comfortably without looking.

Another visual difference to the larger brother is that the two metal rings that connect the two sections of the barrel for refilling are not the same size. The one towards the nib is slightly smaller than the one on the back. While this is not a deal-breaker for me, I would have preferred for the rings to have been more proportionally sized as it does stand out a bit. The overall size is comfortable to use even though I would not mind the slightly heavier feeling of the classic.


One of the biggest selling points of the pen in my opinion is the nib. It is an 18K gold nib and writes like a dream. I chose the medium size which does write thinner than a European medium but its wonderfully calibrated wetness makes it the perfect daily writer size. Thankfully, if I wish to keep my current nib, if I purchase the larger size, the two sections are interchangeable. The nib is slightly soft however and taking into account its small footprint I feel that I have to treat it with a lot of care when I write to not spring the tines or damage it in any other way. Maybe this is just in my head but it keeps me from fully engaging with this pen as the daily workhorse it is designed to be.


The decimo is a cartridge-converter pen. While it does not come with a converter in the box, I was able to easily purchase a CON-40 in a local stationary shop while in Japan. The converter however in my opinion is mediocre at best. It  holds a tiny amount of ink and I find it extremely difficult to get a full fill as the piston stops almost an entire centimetre shy of the actual opening point. That one centimetre is a substantial amount of ink considering the small capacity and size of the converter. While I do sometimes try to flip the nib section upside-down to release the air and get a larger fill, it is far too messy and time consuming so I mostly stick to cartridges. Thankfully, the ink selection of the Pilot proprietary cartridges is good in terms of variety and quality but I do prefer using bottled ink.



While the pen does suffer from some negatives I think that the one-handed ease of use of the buttery smooth retractable nib make this pen an excellent purchase. For me, thanks to my new-born tradition, every time I write with the pen I day-dream about my trip to Japan making this pen have a special place in my heart.


Items mentioned*:

Pen: Pilot Fountain Pen Capless DecimoInk: Pilot Namiki Blue
Paper: Rhodia Orange Dot Pad
Converter: Pilot CON-40

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:
Goulet Pens Blog Decimo Review
The Pen Addict Decimo Review
The Well Appointed Desk Decimo Review


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