I know, I know, almost every week in the blog I tell you how excited I am to be writing about my latest topic... but this week, I am actually a little bit giddy. I love ink, so I had been looking at the "Ink Bottles" section of our store website to see what new inks were coming soon. When I saw the Sailor Yurameku line listed a couple months ago, I read about it online and was counting the days until it arrived at the store. Not only are the Yurameku inks multichromatic, so they somehow manage to be more than one color at the same time, they look very different depending on your choice of paper, and also change in appearance as they dry and develop on the paper. The Japanese word Yurameku translates to something like "flickering," which I think refers to these inks' mercurial nature. I saw a few writing samples by people in Japan who had tried them already, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on them to experiment!
The prediction on our website originally said we'd get them in mid-February, so I checked almost every day in February, but they didn't arrive until the evening of Tuesday, March 1st. By the time I'd swatched the inks the next morning, we had already sold out of one of the colors, Kangyou, and the others were going fast!
As I write this on March 7th, we have sold out of Kangyou, Itezora, Yurameku, Kyokkou and Seki, and the other colors have only a few bottles still in stock. But, not to worry! We are getting a new shipment next month and will have 30 bottles of each color. They are available for pre-order now. I'm sure the second batch will go quickly, too, but reading this should help you decide which colors you want the most. The complete lineup of Yurameku colors is Kangyou, Seki, Kyokkou, Amamoyoi, Kitsune Biyori, Kyokuya, Yoi, Itezora, and Byakuya.
Why are these inks so hot? Well, they are cousins to the Sailor Ink Studio series that created such a buzz in 2019, and every ink in the line is multichromatic. Examples of other popular dual shading inks include Sailor Ink Studio 123, 130, 162, 150, 173, 224, 252, 273, 280, and 573; Vinta Inks Perya, Maskara, Sirena and Aegean Armada; Troublemaker Milky Ocean and Abalone; and Sailor Manyo Haha and Nekoyanagi. This type of ink is so fascinating and mysterious, people really get excited about experimenting with it on different types of paper and with different pens. It works best with wider nib sizes that can show off the complex colors, and is also beautiful to use like watercolor paint, with a paintbrush.
I own a bottle of Nekoyanagi and quite a few of the Sailor Ink Studio multishaders, plus have sample vials of a lot of other inks that fit this category, so I've played around with them a fair bit. I pulled a bunch of my swatch cards for comparison.
To test the new inks, I started by swatching every color on my Col-o-Ring swatch cards from The Well-Appointed Desk, using a paintbrush to sweep the color across the bottom of the card and allowing the concentration of ink to go from heavy to light as the brush ran dry. As I always do when I swatch multichromatic inks, I smeared small section of each swatch across the card with my finger while it was still wet to bring out the secondary colors even more. Then I added a few concentrated splotches of ink dropped from a blunt syringe, and labeled the cards with a pen when they had fully dried. I used a double broad Kaweco Skyline Sport to write the words.
I'll show you some more detailed views as I talk more about the inks, but here are the finished swatches all together.
While I was doing the swatching, I also did a simple chromatography test by touching the nib of my pen to a paper towel and allowing a small circle to soak into the paper, then doing a second circle and adding a little water to that one to allow the colors to separate even more.
As you can see from the chromatography and swatch samples, there is a lot of variety here, but the differences between Kangyou, Itezora, and Byakura are very subtle. All three of these inks are a mauve-ish/greenish combination. Itezora is the darkest and shows the most green, while Kangyou is in the middle and leans more toward the lavender side, and Byakura shows the most shading between the two colors but is the lightest and therefore the hardest to read.
As a fun side note, I was very curious about the meanings of the names of these inks, but I don't speak or read Japanese and I couldn't find a translation online. I tried translating them myself with the Google Translate app on my phone, and that gave me an approximate idea of what they mean, but on Friday a really nice customer came into the store and when I was helping him pick out his first fountain pen he mentioned that he knows Japanese, so I told him about the blog I was writing and asked him if he could help me translate the ink names! He was delighted by the challenge and we both thought the names were fascinating. It was also extremely cool hearing him say the names in Japanese!
According to his rough translation, Itezora means "frozen sky," Kangyou means "cold winter dawn," and Byakura means "night under the midnight sun" (i.e., a polar night when the sun never sets). Knowing this really adds to my appreciation of the mood these inks are meant to evoke.
All three colors are similar to the famous Sailor Ink Studio 123 and 224, but are warmer/redder shades of mauve as compared to 123s and 224s bluish-greyish mauve with a similar color bluish green background color.
The new color Seki is also similar to all five of these colors in my swatches, although its chromatography looks different! It is most similar to Byakuya but with even more prominent pinkish tones and a less bluish tint to its background green. According to my helpful customer, this ink's name means "time for the crescent moon" or "evening."
Seki also has a tiny bit of gold sheen in high concentration! Here it is with Amamoyoi and Kokuya, which shows a small amount of gold sheen as well. Amamoyoi and Kokuya are greener still, with Amamoyoi showing more prominent muted pink tones and Kyokura appearing more earthy, with soft mossy woodland colors and just a hint of pink. Kyokura's slight golden sheen gives it a warm glow. Amamoyoi means something like "threat of rain" and Kyokuya is "polar night."
These colors compare most closely to Sailor Ink Studio 252, Vinta Sirena, and Sailor Ink Studio 280.
I would also group Amamoyoi with the two strangest inks in the Yurameku collection, Yoi and Kitsune Biyori. These colors seem the most different from the others, but they all share a subtle pinkish element in common. Amamoyoi is much greener, but if you compare the splotches they are similar muted pinkish brown blush shades. Yoi is an extremely interesting color that is darker than any of the others and is very complex. Again it has gold sheen, but leans more dark purplish, with the strange pinkish brown giving it a friendliness despite its somber tone. It also contains a greyish green. I found Yoi to be the wettest of the inks and really liked the way it wrote.
The closest inks I could find to Yoi were Vinta Nakar, a shimmering grey ink with underlying pinkish brown and green tones, and Vinta Aegean Armada, which is more bluish-greenish-greyish but has those same subtle pinks. Yoi means something like "early night" or "the beginning of the evening just after dark."
Kitsune Biyori also really appealed to me. It's such a nice soft color that I don't quite know how to name. It's similar to Sailor Studio 373 and Montblanc Swan Illusion Plume, but I think it's nicer than either. I would love to wear this color; I think it looks warm and sophisticated. It looks like a soft fabric--a silk or velvet or suede. The name Kitsune Biyori is super cool... Kitsune means fox, and Kitsune Biyori is "fox weather," which, from what I understand, is fickle weather (because foxes are tricky), like when the sun shines and then it rains. I love this!
The final color I haven't talked about is Kyokkou, which isn't similar to Kitsune Biyori or Yoi at all. Of the other inks in the line, it's closest to Kangyou, the most lavender color in the first group I talked about, but Kyokkou is a much brighter and more blue-leaning shade. It's a lot like Vinta Maskara and Sailor Manyo Nekoyanagi, but is slightly bluer and more muted than either one. Of all the inks in the Yurameku line, I found this one the hardest to write with. It's the lightest color and displays a lot of shading, so it's elusive and doesn't show up quite as well as some of the others. The name means "aurora," as in the polar lights (aurora borealis/aurora Australis). Beautiful!
In addition to swatching the inks, I also tried them on different kinds of paper, beginning with Tomoe River.
Rhodia paper was similar to Tomoe River, although Rhodia didn't bring out the color variation quite as much.
I also tried painting on watercolor paper with the Yurameku inks, which, I have to admit, is my favorite thing to do with multichromatic inks. Yes, they are fun to write with, but they are even more fun to use for art. I like to use Fluid brand Hot Press Finish paper, as it handles fountain pen ink very well. I added a little bit of water to part of each square to bring out the color variation even more, and the results were gorgeous.
I also did some quick paintbrush swatches on 68 gsm Tomoe River paper. I swiped over the lower half of each swatch with some water to bring out the alternate colors a little.
No, I did not try the inks with a plethora of different pens and nib sizes, nor did I do water resistance and drying speed tests. There are other more methodical blogs that have stuff like that covered. My goal was more to get a feel for the colors and moods of these inks and how they might inspire you to get creative. As with any ink of this nature, they may not be appropriate for the office or pass serious readability tests (although YoI and Kyokura definitely will!). They are meant to surprise and delight, and their changeable nature is part of their charm. I will say that I found these inks to be very wet, at least in the pens I tried them in--a double broad iridescent pearl Kaweco Skyline Sport, a soft broad Pilot Falcon, and a Zoom nib ocean blue Sailor Professional Gear. They even wrote well in a cheap National brand XtremeWhite spiral notebook, with similar color variation to Rhodia, but a tiny bit more feathering. You don't need fancy paper to be able to see these inks' magic, but it definitely enhances it.
I really enjoyed playing with the Yurameku inks, and I can't pick a favorite. They didn't disappoint. I can see why Kangyou is so popular, but I also adore Kitsune Biyori and Yoi, Itezora, Seki, and Amamoyoi. Okay, they are all fascinating! Check out the videos I did on Instagram to see how just dramatic and fun these inks really are. But to truly get it, I think these are inks you need to experience for yourself.
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