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Iroshizuku Ink: Why it Might Become Your New Favorite Ink

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The ink's name may feel like a mouthful at first, but that shouldn't stop you from giving it a try. Iroshizuku inks have long been a favorite among fountain pen users, and since the ink is well-behaved in most fountain pens, it is worth a closer look to determine if it might just be your next favorite.

What's in a name?

The name Iroshizuku is a blend of two different Japanese words. "Iro" meaning colored, and "shizuku" meaning dew or drop. Literally translated, it means colored drops or colored dew. One can visually imagine the ink being drops of color that bring your writing and drawings to life on the page.

The Iroshizuku inks made by Pilot come in 24 unique colors. Each color has a Japanese name. The translations of these names give a vague but intriguing description of the color one might expect. Examples include "autumn leaves" (a deep but vibrant red) and "moonlit night." Although you may not be fluent in Japanese, the translations are beautiful and make this color collection especially distinctive.

What is Iroshizuku ink best for?

Iroshizuku inks are a practical, dye-based ink choice that work well for a variety of different pen and paper uses. It is compatible with most fountain pens, although some users do note that it is somewhat alkali and may be hard on some pen components. However, all the colors in the collection are notably well-behaved and easy to clean from your pen and nib if you decide to change colors.

If you are left-handed or write quickly, you may be particularly happy with these fountain pen inks as they dry relatively quickly despite being described as a wet ink. The drying time does vary somewhat from color to color, however. Once dry, the inks are only somewhat water-resistant, which may be expected of an ink that is easy to clean up.

For many, the low price associated with these user-friendly inks is a great feature. One can usually buy a 50ml bottle of ink for around $20. If you prefer smaller bottles, Pilot sells the ink in 15ml "mini" bottles in sets. These sets allow you to try three colors at a low price. You can always buy more if you find a color that particularly suits you.

Where should I start?

Iroshizuku inks cover the standard black, blue, and gray colors that many pen owners prefer for signing documents and writing letters. However, if you are looking for a color with more personality for calligraphy or writing in your diary, there are more vibrant colors in the collection to fit those purposes as well.

  • Take-sumi or bamboo charcoal is a popular black ink that is deep with a hint of gray. It is reasonably water-resistant, but a wet paintbrush will spread the ink to create shaded areas in ink drawings.
  • Kon-peki or deep azure is an excellent blue ink option. With a hint of turquoise in it. This ink can create shades from sky blue to a rich sapphire hue.
  • Yama-budo, also known as wild grapes, is a unique and variable ink color. The mix of magenta and gold is reminiscent of the colors of red grapes and the large leaves on the vine.

Once you have tried these three, there are 21 more colors for you to discover.

Does Iroshizuku ink make a good gift?

The glass bottles Pilot designed for these inks is sleek and stunning. While the bottle itself is a simple rectangle, the rounded sides eliminate the corners and soften the appearance. Likewise, the label is minimalistic, but the Japanese characters lend it sophistication. The real draw comes in the shape of the inside of the bottle that holds the ink. The inside comes to a point at the bottom, and the ink fills this unique shape, making it appear suspended on tippy-toe within the bottle. As a single bottle or part of a set, these inks make attractive gifts. They also look fantastic displayed alongside your pen collection.

If you own a fountain pen, you know that the ink choices are endless. And, if you want to try new colors and brands of ink, you know that can be expensive, especially if the ink turns out to be the wrong shade or doesn't work well in your pen. That's money down the drain. Don't let your fear of better options keep you from trying Pilot's Iroshizuku inks. They are an inexpensive option to explore a variety of colors without breaking the bank.


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1 comment


  • This is. my favorite rand of ink. My favorite ink is Asa-gao, a beautiful purpley blue! I haven’t found a color I haven’t loved yet!

    Mary Ellen Wood on

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