The Tombow 8900 is an entry-level "General Writing" pencil, but compared to some of the entry-level US stuff, this would be considered high-end. While the Mono series gets most of the love, the 8900 is Tombow's oldest pencil still in production and one of the most popular Japanese pencils. These pencils are available in multiple grades, 2B through 2H, but today I'm talking about the HB.
The look is quite simple. It's a hex shape with green lacquer. The green sits somewhere between olive and grass green. Between this, the Mitsubishi 9800, and the Mitsubishi 9000, you'd be forgiven for assuming that all the entry level pencils in Japan are green. The lacquer isn't as thick as it is on some of the other, nicer Tombow pencils, but it's very even and perfectly thick enough. It's very light in the hand, with no eraser or end dip. Just clean and raw on either end of the pencil. The main imprint is gold. One side has the UPC in white, and yet another side says "For General Writing", also in white. All the imprints are impeccably applied.
The cores are all centered beautifully. This box I have is new and Made in Vietnam. Compared to some of the Mitsubishi and other Tombow HBs, the core is a little harder, but still definitely in the HB range. It lays down a nice line and has really good point retention. The line erases perfectly with a decent eraser, even a Pink Pearl pencil cap does the trick. I'm not certain about the wood. In an impromptu poll on the Erasable Podcast Facebook group, I asked if people liked the pencil and if they could identify the wood. The reaction to this one is overwhelmingly positive, but I couldn't get a straight answer about the wood. Some thought cedar, some with older versions of the pencil could have very well had a cedar version of the pencil. But the sniff test didn't pan out for me. It's definitely not the same odor as, say, a Blackwing or a Mitsubishi Hi-Uni. Regardless, it's light, has a bit of grain, and sharpens away just fine.
While it's never going to be as flashy or pretty as anything from the Mono line, the 8900 is a great introduction to Japanese pencils for someone who isn't looking to spend a lot of money. The value for quality rating is very high for this pencil.
Available from Amazon, $5.15 for 12.