Tombow Fudenosuke | Brush Pen Review

I love using brush pens in my bullet journal. In the past, I’ve reviewed several different types of brush pen. Today I want to talk about the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen. Out of everything I’ve mentioned on my blog so far, this is probably one of my favourite types of brush pen. 

I know in the past I’ve been very critical of the Tombow Dual Brush Pens. As much as I love them I’ve always found the large brush nib to be very difficult to handle when lettering. I find the Fudenosuke pen much preferable because of the smaller nib. 

Image shows Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens.

I bought my first pen in a random art shop and pretty much instantly fell in love. Over the years I’ve bought a good number of these pens. I will state right now, I have too many pens. No one needs 5 of the same pen. 

Today I want to share a review of the Tombow Fudenosuke and explain why I like using these pens so much. I also have some examples of how you can use these pens to add some calligraphy to your bullet journal. 

Tombow Fudenosuke | Brush Pen Review

About The Pens

Tombow is a Japanese manufacturer who makes stationery and office supplies. In the past, I have reviewed the Tombow Dual Brush Markers which I used regularly while in college. More recently I’ve also had the chance to try the Tombow Mono graphite pencils which I fell in love with. 

Today we are talking about the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens. As the name suggests, this is another type of brush pen, similar to the Dual Brush Markers. Unlike the markers, the Fudenosuke brush pens don’t come with a dual brush tip. They also have much smaller brush nibs compared to the Tombow Markers. 

10 pen set of Tombow brush pens.

In the past, I have stated that I don’t like using the Tombow markers for lettering because I find the large brush nibs difficult to control. One of the things I like about the Tombow Fudenosuke pens is that they have a much smaller brush nib. I find this much easier to use and I prefer the “look” you get when lettering with these pens. 

Originally the Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens only came in black, but recently they have released a set of 10 coloured pens. This pack includes a black and grey pen. Along with eight coloured pens. This is a nice range of colours and would be a great way to add something a little different to your calligraphy. 

The black Tombow Fudenosuke pen also comes in two variations, a soft and hard nib version. I will talk about these a little later in this post. Tombow also makes the Fudenosuke Firm Tip Twin which is a dual-tipped pen with black ink on one side and grey on the other. There are so many variations of the Fudenosuke pen you’re almost guaranteed to find something which works best for you.

Ink

The Fudenosuke is Tombow’s version of a Fude pen. This is a type of pen was intended to be used for East Asian Calligraphy. Usually, the pens have replacement ink cartridges however the Tombow Fudenosuke doesn’t have this feature, once the ink runs out you have to buy an entirely new pen. If you prefer using a pen which can be refilled, you might want to look at the Kuretake or Pentel brush pens instead.

Colour swatches of Tombow Fudenosuke pens.

I think the ink is probably one of the best aspects of the Fudenosuke pen. Unlike the dual brush pen, the ink is a very deep black. The ink is not quite as “juicy” compared to some other fude pens but I don’t think this is a bad thing. It should be noted that the ink is waterbased so you should take care if there is a chance your lettering might get wet. 

Nib Variations

Like I mentioned before, the original Fudenosuke brush pen comes with two types of nibs. A hard or soft nib. Choosing the right type of nib can be quite important as this will change how your lettering looks. The softer nib makes it easier to press the pen into the paper, creating greater contrast between thick and thin strokes. 

Brush nibs on Tombow pens.

It can be quite hard to tell the difference between the two types of pen. The brush nibs look almost exactly alike, with the hard tip being slightly smaller. The easiest way to tell what type of nib you have is by looking at the colour of the pen. Dark blue pens have the hard nib, while black pens have soft nibs. I should state that I can’t read Japanese, this is just the assumption I’ve made from looking at the pens I own. 

The Tombow Fudenosuke have nylon nibs, these nibs tend to wear away over time. This can cause problems as having a sharp nib makes it easier to create calligraphy. A worn-out nib will make it harder to get fine lines, this is something I’ve noticed especially with the soft nibbed pen. However, this problem might just be because I use the soft nibbed pen more. 

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How long the nibs last can depend on the type of paper you use. Smooth paper works better and the nib will stay sharp longer compared to a rough paper. I should note however that I’ve owned these pens for a few years now and am only just starting to have problems with the nibs wearing out. So they will last a long time before you have to think about replacing them. 

It is possible to buy sets of two pens which contain a soft and hard nibbed pen. It’s also possible to buy the variations individually. I should also note that the set of 10 coloured pens only comes with hard nibs. The type of packaging and how you buy the pens will just depend on where the pens are coming from. 

Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens.

The 2 pen and 10 pen sets seem to be sold by a European branch of Tombow. However, if you buy the brush pens separately these may come directly from Japan. The pens which come from Japan will have different packaging with all Japanese text. They also come with a plastic guide which I assume is to help with Japanese calligraphy. 

Paper

The Tombow Fudenosuke pens work well with most brands of paper. I’ve most commonly used them with the Leuchtturm and MD Paper notebooks. I’ve had no problems with the ink bleeding through the page or ghosting. The MD Paper notebooks make the ink look slightly darker, but this seems to be the case with several different pens I’ve tried. It’s possible that the MD notebooks just use a higher quality paper. 

As I mentioned above, how long the nibs last can depend on the type of paper you use. Similar to the dual brush pens a smoother paper will help the nibs last longer. I haven’t tried the pens on really rough paper. I’m assuming there would be no point trying something extremely textured like Khadi paper as I’m sure the ink would bleed as well as wearing the nibs out faster. 

Price

I would say the Fudenosuke brush pen is relatively expensive. A single pen can be bought for around £3, the exact price just depends on where you buy it from. I’ve found both the soft and hard nibbed pens in London Graphics and Cass Art. It’s also possible to buy them online from places like JetPens and Cult Pens.

I realise that £3 doesn’t sound like a whole lot for a single pen. But this is still more compared to the Tombow Dual Brush Markers which can usually be found for around £2.50 per pen. The Mildliner highlighters also usually retail around £2 a pen, again just depending on where you buy them.

Obviously, these aren’t direct comparisons, it’s not like you could buy either for the same purpose. And the Tombow Fudenosuke pens do last a good long time. I’ve had my pens for at least a few years and though the brush nib on some pens is starting to wear away, the ink hasn’t dried out. I think when it comes to choosing a pen it just depends on what you are using it for. 

Uses In Bullet Journal

I have a few pens which I use in my bullet journal. I like having a low number of pens because I think it helps keep everything in my bullet journal looking similar. This way I also know all the pens I use in my bullet journal have already been tested on the paper and I don’t need to worry about pens bleeding or causing other problems. 

Image shows semester overview page in bullet journal.

I like having relatively minimal headers in my bullet journal. But in the past, I have used the Fudenosuke to letter headings. I mostly do this for one-off pages, for example, my semester and year overviews. One of my most popular bullet journal spreads on Instagram feature lettering done with the Fudenosuke brush pen. 

I’ll also use the brush pen to create lettering pieces in my bullet journal. I do this as a form of decoration. Yes, I know I say don’t go over the top decorating your bullet journal. But I will add bits of lettering onto a page as decoration. I find this works well because I have a chance to practice my brush lettering as well as adding something interesting to look at in my bullet journal. 

Image shows brush lettering using Tombow Fudenosuke pen.

In the past, I’ve also done something similar using lecture notes. I now mostly take lecture notes on my laptop. I find it faster and easier on my hands. But in the past, I would take lecture notes in a notebook. Sometimes I would use lettering as a way to highlight an important quote. 

Comparison To Other Pens

I’ve mentioned a few other brush pens through this post. I want to do a little comparison with both. These pens all have different purposes, but they also create different forms of lettering. And I think this is something you need to think about when choosing a pen. The type of brush nib you choose will have a huge impact on the type of lettering you create. 

The Tombow Dual Brush Marker is a slightly cheaper pen with a much larger brush nib. I don’t like the Dual Brush marker quite so much for lettering, I find it hard to control the brush nib. But I think that is a me problem. There are many people on YouTube and Instagram who do amazing things with this pen. 

If you’re looking for a pen which has a really good black ink you may prefer the Fudenosuke pen to the Dual Brush marker. As you can tell from the name, this is a marker pen and the ink isn’t quite so dark, really its more of a dark grey than a true black. 

Another pen I’ve compared the Fudenosuke pen to is the new Mildliner brush pens. I love my Mildliner highlighters, these new brush pens are a fantastic addition to the range. Again these pens have a larger brush nib compared to the Fudenosuke. But I think the Mildliner brush pens have a better colour selection. These colours come pastel shades which I find much easier on the eye. The only downside of the Mildliner is that they are more of a highlighter in brush form rather than a marker or brush pen. 

My Thoughts On The Tombow Fudenosuke 

I really like the Tombow Fudenosuke pens. I know that which pen you choose for lettering depends on the style you want. But I think for beginners having a smaller brush nib is useful. Of course, this could just be my personal preference, there are no rules when it comes to choosing a pen for lettering. 

Lettering sketch in notebook.

But I still think the Tombow pens are pretty great. They are maybe a little harder to find in actual shops compared to other pens. But I think as lettering becomes more popular, they are something which will become easier to find. As I said, Cass Art and London Graphics are the only places where I’ve found these pens. Paperchase might stock them, but it could depend on which Paperchase store you go to. And obviously with coronavirus causing problems who even knows what shops will have in stock. I certainly don’t, I haven’t even been in a shop since March. 

Even with all those problems, the Fudenosuke pens are great, they are my go-to pen. There is only one other fude style pen I think is better than the Tombows. But seeing how I don’t know the name of this other pen and can’t find it online the Tombow Fudenosuke is what I would recommend. 

Finally

Are you tired of hearing me talk about brush pens? I sure am. Calligraphy is a fantastic hobby to get into, as I mentioned further up the post, calligraphy is a great way to add some decoration to your bullet journal. It’s really easy to get started with. I have another post where I have some of my favourite calligraphy books. Though most of those books focus on pointed pen calligraphy, one book on the list specifically focuses on brush calligraphy. 

Have you tried the Tombow Fudenosuke pens before? Or is there another brush pen which you would recommend? Let me know in the comments. 

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