Pilot Iroshizuku Inks: Blue, Green, and In Between
Pilot is arguably the biggest name in pens. If you’ve ever put a long, pointy thing in your hand and wrote with it, you’ve undoubtedly used a Pilot product along the way. Pilot is a Japanese company, and regardless of whether you’re using a cheap, throw-away ballpoint or a $5,000 makie fountain pen, their products are all made with impeccable quality, and you’re sure to experience a nice, trouble-free writing experience.
In addition to pens, Pilot makes a wonderful line of bottled inks for fountain pens. While other brands shoot for vibrant, highly saturated color palettes, Pilot aims for colors that mirror the beauty found in nature. Here’s a description from the Pilot web site:
The name Iroshizuku is a combination of the Japanese words Iro (Coloring), expressing high standards and variation of colors, and Shizuku (Droplet), that embodies the very image of dripping water. Each ink name derives from the expressions of beautiful Japanese natural landscapes and plants, all of which contribute to the depth of each individual hue.
There are two problems with Iroshizuku inks: First, they’re all beautiful and it’s tough to narrow down which bottle(s) I want to buy. Second, they ain’t cheap! I can’t just go buy a bottle of each color unless I want to forego groceries for a month. So I broke out a bunch of samples and set out to decide on one or two bottles to purchase.
Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku (Peacock)
If you like turquoises and teals, there’s an awful lot to love about Ku-Jaku, which is meant to represent the turquoise found in a peacock’s feathers. Most colors in this range tend to lean either more toward blue (turquoise) or toward green (teal), but I find Ku-Jaku to be pretty middle-of the road…maybe a hair closer to blue than green, but pretty close to equal parts.
Ku-Jaku is plenty dark enough to write with, shades beautifully, and has a slight hint of a reddish purple sheen around the edges…if you lay it down heavy enough on coated paper.
Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki (Deep Cerulean Blue)
People seem to really dig those bright blues that really pop off the page. Kon-Peki is one of them. It’s one of Pilot’s most vibrant inks, and definitely the loudest one from this pick-six review. I prefer blues that are either really dark (blue-black) or mixed with green (turquoise/teal), so Kon-Peki doesn’t get me overly excited. But it’s still a very pretty shade of blue.
Kon-Peki is the lightest of these six inks, but it’s still dark enough for daily use. It does shade, although I find the shading to be more subtle. I found some reddish purple sheen around edges and where the ink pooled when I used my fine dip nib. I don’t think you’d be likely to see any sheen under normal writing conditions.
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku (Forest Green)
I haven’t found too many green inks that I would want to write with on a daily basis, but Shin-Ryoku is stunning. It is intended to represent “the unchanging color of a dense evergreen forest in a long winter.” I’m not sure if it really hits that mark, as it’s brighter than most evergreen tree’s I’ve seen (although maybe the hues of evergreens in Japan lean more toward light green than they do in the US).
Shin-Ryoku is dark enough for business, vibrant enough to stand out, and shades beautifully. I found tiny traces of a purple sheen in the heaviest areas.
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai (Deep Sea)
This is probably my least favorite of the bunch, although it’s still beautiful. It’s touted as a blue-black ink, and is intended to represent the deep sea where the sun don’t shine (paraphrased, of course). I think it’s a little lighter than most blue-blacks, and it looks to me to have a red component. This color reminds me less of the ocean and more of an evening sky. You know if you’re facing eastward and the sun is setting behind you, the sky will fade into a darker blue with a slightly purple tinge before going black? That’s what it reminds me of.
Shin-Kai is a great go-anywhere color. Dark enough to use at work, but interesting enough to use for more creative projects. It shades beautifully, and takes on a ruby-red sheen in places where the ink really pools.
Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-Ro (Dew on Pine Tree)
Now we’re getting to the stars of this little inksperiment. Just to be honest, Syo-Ro absolutely knocks my socks off. It’s a gorgeous dark teal ink that (according to Pilot), “conjures a dewdrop reflecting the pine needles.” I’m not really sure what that’s supposed to mean, but I guess if you saw a blue spruce tree after a summer rain, then this might be a close color. Odd description aside, this is one of the more interesting inks I’ve seen.
Syo-Ro is dark enough to use on a daily basis, but maintains it’s “pop” of color at all times. It has gorgeous shading properties, and if you let the ink really pool up in places, you may get some ruby-red sheen around the edges.
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo (Moonlight)
And we’ll wrap up with another amazing color: Tsuki-Yo. It’s a rich, dark turquoise that’s supposed to represent a night sky when lit up by the moon. It’s a very calm, dreamy color, and it seems to have almost identical properties to the Syo-Ro, except that it falls more on the blue side than the green.
Tsuki-Yo is a beautiful shading ink (maybe the nicest shader of these six inks), and there is some purplish red sheen around the edges of where the ink pools, although it’s a less “sparkly” and more subdued sheen.
All six of these Iroshizuku inks are excellent. The colors are beautiful without being too loud or “in your face,” and they’re extremely well behaved. They all have nice shading, and the sheen, while present, is pretty minimal and would likely not show up under normal use.
Which is your favorite Iroshizuku ink?