Penetralia ~ Accessory review ~ Shibui Pen Case

Everybody needs a pen case and in my opinion this is one of the better ones out there. To be honest, I was looking for a Galen alternative — nothing against Galen — but I felt like everywhere you look there was nothing but Galen products for fountain pen users and I honestly just wanted to try something different. Spread the love! I believe I came across this brand via a Goldspot video and so did a bit more digging.

Prior to this, I was only carrying a 2-pen Pelikan leather case and wanted to upgrade to a higher capacity. I was signing with a broad, writing with a fine or medium, journaling/making notes with another and had a back-up pen based on my mood for the day. I really valued the Goldspot review and the Shibui site was well presented, informative and looked legit. Their story of essentially being a small start up really appealed to me too, as did their philosophy for what they were trying to create. I always like to spread my dollars around, so I purchased a 5-pen carry case.


The package arrived promptly, which was surprising giving the state of international mail these days and I was pleasantly surprised by the product itself.

It feels amazing! The leather is “naked” and velvety. It shows up all your scratches and bumps and so “ages” with you. I love this gimmick as pen cases should be designed to withstand a bit of a battering, I didn’t want to constantly be worrying about scuffing my perfect shiny leather case.

As you can see, mine is already starting to scuff up. I keep mine in my backpack mostly so it isn’t too exposed to the elements, But occasionally the kids will get their grubby little paws on it and that’s when the real test comes. The picture doesn’t show it well, but darker areas are where children have mauled at it and there’s MANY more abrasions and scuff marks on it too.

I live in the ass-end of outback style Australia where half of my patients wear akubra hats and so this leather reminds of that too! In a weird way making me feel more Aussie.

It’s built solid and my kids would also attest to this.

The design is simple and elegant. It’s unassuming, so for me even if I accidently leave this is open view and have $2000 worth of pens in it, it’s not going to get stolen off my desk. My patients don’t make comments about my oversized pencil case and that’s just the way I like it.

Specifically, I really like the zipper. It feels and sounds solid when zipping. This is reassuring in that hopefully it’ll last many years. It doesn’t feel plastic-y or cheap.

It does however, get stuck if you just over-open it and its a bit of a tug to get it going again. Not a real issue though.

I really like the stitching on it too. It’s not intrusive and the leather (with it’s aging qualities) takes centre stage in the presentation of this case.

Inside it’s spacious and has their unique pull-tag mechanism to keep your bits in place. I completely LOVE this design. It makes complete sense and allows one to keep almost any pen in the case without worrying about over-stretching elastics or anything. My pens are all different sizes, finishes and shapes and this pen holder holds them all snuggly, without any of them shaking about or sliding around inside the case. As you can see below, one of my slots is empty, which means I can “close” that slot and use it to carry other stuff.

As you can see, I have 4 pens daily carry at the moment, going to add a flex nib in the 5th slot

As you can see below, another benefit for me is when I’m visiting a residential age care facility or on the move for whatever reason, often carrying the smaller bits of medical equipment get lost in the bottom of my bag. This pen case can be a multi-purpose and hold all those little bits too. The adjustable pull-tag means that regardless if its scissors or a fat syringe, I can pull the tag tight and nothing will jiggle around or fall out.

medical crap — I can put far more in here and it’ll still close up nicely

The little pockets on the side are a great size for business people too — it’ll easily hold cards and a field notes pocket book. As you can see there’s also enough space in between pens that if you dared to carry pencils or ballpoints or other pieces of crap you could easily stuff this thing like a Christmas turkey and it’ll totally handle it.


I have 3 complaints:

  1. It opens “upside down” to my mind. When I first got it, I was forever holding it in my left hand with the closed zipper at the top of the case and expecting to open it like a book and grab a pen out with my right hand— this meant that I was forever opening it “upside down.” Nothing fell out, hence why I love the pull-tag mechanism, but I had to re-train myself to open things a new way. You have to open it with the zipper at the bottom of the case, in your left hand, pulling open the zipper up with your right hand. This way the pens are on the “wrong side” (the left of the case) but at least they’re the right way up. It just feels a bit funny, but this may just be me.
  2. I got the field notes book above from Appelboom when I ordered something in — can’t remember what. It didn’t actually fit. I intentionally and VERY carefully ripped about 1mm of the slit in the leather to get it in. Now, again I don’t know if it’s just this size of field notes book but I was just a bit disappointed. You can see in my picture above that the field notes book is forced in and the leather is curling over a little. I had intended to use this note book to jot patient notes, or teaching notes in if I was at teaching event or whatever, but I think I’ll just carry a proper notebook instead. I do just use the field notes book to tear pages out of and write notes that way or sending writing prompts to penpals etc. I’ll definitely keep trying the slots with different notebooks and medical equipment and keep pushing this case to it’s limits.
  3. Honestly, I’m not sure what the little “pillow” for the pens at the top is for. I’m not sure if it helps secure the pens in or what. Is it a gimmick? I’m not sure. If it wasn’t there, it would actually solve my “pen case opening upside down” issue — as I could just turn my pens around in the case. The logo would be upside down, but this doesn’t bother me so much as the case opening the “wrong way” or my pens being upside down when I open the case “wrong.” I’d much rather my pens be the right way up on the right (as opposed to left) of the case.

Why is this item in my collection?

Because it is brilliant. It does so many things that I need it to, and the mild irritations with it are hardly even worth bothering about. I love that it “ages” and gains character over time and overall the pull-tag mechanism is a game changer in my opinion in pen case design.

Is this a item fit for a GP?

Yes. 100% The fact that I can stuff with all sorts of things makes it absolutely perfect for doctors of all types. Whether you’re just travelling to and from your office with your pens, carrying small bits of medical equipment or travelling to multiple practice sites this is a great product to have and fulfils all those needs really easily.

Thanks so much for reading and remember no matter who you are, “first, do no harm.”




An Australian GP with a love for fountain pens, writing, gaming and gardening, throwing in an occasional rant along the way!

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An Australian GP with a love for fountain pens, writing, gaming and gardening, throwing in an occasional rant along the way!

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