Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

The Uni Kuru Toga is an extremely popular mechanical pencil for a reason; more than one actually. It has a solid plastic, clear barrel, with a comfortable ridged grip. The clip is springy, but firm enough to hold the lightweight body of the pencil. And the whole product feels well-made, and well-designed… for the most part.

Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil

There’s no lead grade indicator anywhere on the pencil, but that isn’t its only, or most major shortcoming. As with so many mechanical pencils, the eraser is basically pointless. It’s too small to be of any real use, is a bit smeary when you do use it, so you end up using a lot of it to get rid of the smears. If you carry a pencil like this, you have to carry an eraser as well, or maybe a couple of the Uni eraser refills; which is not what I want when I use a pencil like the Kuru Toga on any kind of project away from my desk. As a result, this pencil tends to stay in the office, and something like the Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L gets carried on the road.

The main feature of the Kuru Toga is given away by the little logo on the barrel—Kuru Toga Engine. This is the internal mechanism that rotates the pencil’s lead, just a little bit, every time it’s pressed to a writing surface, thereby keeping a uniformly sharp point on the lead.

This system has been popular with a number of reviewers over the years, and the general consensus has been that it works rather well:

… the Kuru Toga really, really works.  Any other pencil around would have a huge flat spot on the lead, making for wider and lighter transfer to the page.  The Kuru Toga rotated properly the entire way through, keeping the lead sharp and ready to go with every word.  There is no difference in line width or darkness between any line on the page.  Fantastic results!
Brad Dowdy, June 29, 2009
The Pen Addict
Review: Uni-Ball Kuru Toga High Grade 0.5mm


The unique feature of the Kuru Toga is how it rotates the lead slightly every time you press it to the paper. This means you tip size stays uniform without you having to turn the pencil in your hand yourself. It works very well and is rather clever.
Ian Hedley, November 10 2014
Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil review

I chose a Kuru Toga with a 0.7mm HB lead, the same specification as the Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L, that I purchased from Take Note in Toronto.

Uni Kuru Toga, with 0.7mm HB lead

The sketch below, shows a drawing sample made using the Kuru Toga, with 0.7mm HB lead, on the same photocopier paper used in the Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L review.

Sketch using Uni Kuru Toga, 0.7mm HB mechanical pencil on cheap photocopier paper

The pencil was great fun to use, the lead was smooth and performed well… but I didn’t. My artistic abilities are about on a par with my handwriting: you can see what it’s supposed to be, but it aint pretty. I frequently needed an eraser, and like I said above, I had issues. Maybe it would help if Uni included a pack of ten in the box with the pencil, and made sure that they were actually good at their job. Unfortunately, they don’t, and they don’t.


Nice pencil, shame about the rubber—oh yes, erasers are called rubbers in England; a fact which caused my teenage daughter (see above), no end of embarrassment in her first Canadian high school art lesson.

The Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil, as reviewed here, is a solid, well-made, mechanical pencil, with a great feature in the lead-rotating mechanism. The eraser however, is a serious weak-point, which means that, when I leave the office and carry a pencil with me, it’s never the Kuru Toga. Shame, because otherwise, I love it.

Well-made and nice features are certainly enough for me to buy this pencil, but not enough for it to be anything other than desk-bound unfortunately, and that means that as much as I like it, and as good as it is, I’ll probably not buy another one.





2 thoughts on “Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil

  1. Similar story from my Australian born grandmother when she emigrated from Australia to the USA in the 1960’s. She went to a store seeking tape to seal up a package and asked for “Durex”; the young man at the counter thought she wanted “family planning” items… 😀

    I’m enjoying your blog! I’ve collected fountain pens for years, but kind of put them away while my children were young. We’re all older now, and I’m finding time to write a blog of my own, and now I want to polish off my pen collection.

    There’s nothing quite like pen and paper, is there? 🙂


    1. Thank you for your nice words, it’s great to get comments, and know somebody’s reading your stuff.

      Like your grandmother’s story, we have had so many linguistic slip-ups, you just wouldn’t believe… “two nations divided by the same language”.

      You’re right about the pen and paper, I’ve been in science and technology for so many years, and wrote by hand so little. Then I went back to grad’ school, and found myself taking notes again. Fountain pens, ink, nice paper and journals helped keep me enthusiastic.

      Dust off your pens! Enjoy them! I’ve even given some to my 12-year-old, she loves them.

      Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to give her bottled ink… but not yet, not while she’s still got a cream-colored carpet in her bedroom.


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