Fountain Pen Reviews · Gifts · ink review · iroshizuku

iroshizuku inks from Pilot


I’m not going to be doing any in depth single color reviews from any brand until I get my new color wheel that I ordered to better describe the sometimes barely different from one another hues of the inks I own.  Instead I’m focusing, again, on a line of ink as a subject for review.

Today I’m writing about my (so far!) favorite line which is called “iroshizuku” (or in English “color drops”) and was released a few colors at a time, over the last few years, by our friends Pilot.  The line is said to have been inspired by the colors of nature and indeed, the translations of the Japanese names as you see them on the bottles mean the names of items you’d find outdoors, though you’d have to go to Japan to see some of them outside your window!

I can’t speak to how well each item matches it’s namesake because I have never seen many of those things the inks are named after, I just find the colors themselves to be alluring.  I have found that all the ink tests in the world and all the color blobs on all the ink websites will not give you an accurate impression of the inks.. they usually tend toward the darkest each color is capable of achieving but when you write with these inks in a pen, your color is less saturated so not as deep.  Don’t get me wrong, they are PLENTY saturated and DEEPLY COLORFUL enough, just use the color tests and such as a general idea as to the ink color, not an in-stone indicator.This issue with color tests has been true of every ink from every line I’ve bought after viewing online, but none so much as with iroshizuku inks.  It doesn’t matter though, you could throw a dart at the list of 24 colors and order whatever you hit and you’ll love it!

Did I scare you away with worries about picking the right color based on online samplings? I HOPE NOT!  Because I STRONGLY recommend this line lightly lubricating, well behaved ink; I mean, have TEN colors of ink from this line, five of which are in full 50ml bottles,and have fallen in love with every one… that’s saying something!  Each of the colors I have really pops on white paper and looks elegant on creme; even when I’m using a poor old Metropolitan with it’s Japanese manufactured Medium nib (they are smaller than from elsewhere) to write with, this holds true.

To wax poetic a bit, as you fill a page with a iroshizuku color it just buzzes with the shade’s unique character and each word you put down is a brilliant jewel among many…. this holds true even more impressively when I’m using a wet writer like my Lamy Safari with a Broad nib  with any of the colors. From this ink I learned that “kosumosu” (or “cosmos”) is a dark and deeply pleasing bubble gum pink that I love to look at so much, I’ll write someone a few paragraphs just to see the colored words fill page; using kosumosu never fails to makes me smile!   I discovered, too, that their darkest green, shin-ryoku, can do some pretty impressive shading with the right pen and nib, it’s all about the flex and !  Equally complimentary things can be (and will be) said about each of the 10 inks in this line that I own, but they will be coming in their own individual color review, starting in a week or so.

The only moment of disappointment this line has brought me was a temporary one.  When I found that chiku-rin (bamboo forest) was not the ‘tired off yellow-green’ that had so intrigued me when I viewed color samples online; I was pretty sad but only for a short while.  Although the grass-green of chiku-rin, as it displayed on white Tomoe River paper that had been  written on by a SB (soft broad) nib baring  Pilot Falcon, was not what I expected and hoped for, it was a really pretty color; it was a bit too bright perhaps for the eyes to take on long letters, but great for a page or two at least.  But, HURRAH, it wasn’t when loaded into a fountain pen that this color had the peculiar qualities I had coveted it for, but when using it with a glass dipping pen!  When dipping,  I could really deposit however much ink (or in this case however little) I wanted to on the paper as I wrote my letter and thus I was able to achieve the bizarre hue I’d longed for; it just took a little trial and error and then  I could get the exact shade I’d seen online that was so unusual and alluring.

Now, when shopping for these inks have your wallet ready to be emptied because these are premium inks and, from a reputable retailer, you can pay nearly $30 a bottle… and really what are the chances of you getting just one bottle between now and forever? (the cost is less on Amazon’s site but you never know how well packaged it’s going to be and I’ve been sent the wrong color or broken bottles before, so only shop there if you’re in a penny pinching pinch or in the case of wanting a 15ml bottle as I outline below).

However, you don’t have to throw 30 bucks at someone just to see if you’ll like an ink you’re intrigued by!

On, you can get 2ml samples sent to you for around 2.25 each (price varies by cost of inks) and that’s enough ink to fill most pens twice…. that’s pages upon pages upon pages to decide if an ink is for you!  Note: shipping kicks in right away when you put one sample in your basket, at about $3.50, so you might as well get a couple (bunch!) of samples… browse the site and even look at other lines, you can spend a day “in their store” shopping for samples… or you can kick that shipping up a little and apply it to getting yourself some paper (as a letter writer I live and die by Tomoe River 100 Loose Sheets Size A4 in White most of the time, and sometimes in cream)!

If you’re ready to pull the trigger and get a bottle but don’t want to go for a full 50ml at nearly $30 plus shipping, you are in the one situation I recommend shopping Amazon for. Most of the colors from the 24 color pallet are available in 15ml bottles for about $12-16 there; it’s not a great deal by the ml, but a big savings off the cost of a full size bottle and trust me, 15ml will last a good long time.  If you like the line but can’t pick just one color, there were a bunch of box sets released, each with 3 of the 15ml bottles in various colors; no color appears in two box sets and the sets were themed by season and such, so get ready to go crazy making a choice between them; I can’t recommend Goulet Pens’ selection for these because they have only two choices remaining among the trios so here we are stuck with Amazon again where you’ll get a set for between $22-$35 ( Helpful Hint: your Amazon search phrase is “iroshizuku 15ml”)

What is the takeaway from this?  Make sure your ink collection has at least one selection from the iroshizuku line, it will be one of your go-to inks, doubtlessly.  And I wish you luck limiting your purchases from that line to just one ink, ready, set, OVERSPEND!

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