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Namiki Ink... Why Do Expensive?


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#1 AuthorofDarkness

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 20:52

I meant "so" not "do"

So I was browsing Amazon and was looking at the top selling inks and I noticed that Pilot Nakimi ink costs almost 3 times what regular ink costs... So my question is what's so special about Namiki ink that causes it to be so expensive?

I freely admit I know absolutely nothing about this kind of ink, so if someone could explain why it is so expensive I would be grateful. :vbg:

Edited by ParkersandPilots, 15 March 2013 - 20:53.


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#2 mAnuscript69

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 22:21

The Iroshizuku line of inks are Pilot's premium brand of inks and is marketed as such. The inks (in general) possess desirable qualities such as good flow and lubrication along with fast drying times.
Another reason for the high cost outside of Japan would be due to shipping - those bottles are quite hefty.

It all boils down to marketing, in my opinion. Take Caran d'Ache for example; their inks cost more than Iroshizuku. As much as they cost, people are still willing to part with their cash to own these inks. If people are willing to pay $30 dollars for a bottle of ink, then those inks will continue to be produced. I know I would, especially for unique colours.

If you are content with 'standard', reliable inks such as those offered by Sheaffer and Parker, I doubt you'd see the value in boutique brands and premium inks. However if you do decide to widen your palette of ink colours and explore different properties of ink, a vast expanse of inky wonders awaits - you'll be pleasantly surprised; and you don't have to pay through your nose too, Diamine inks are pretty affordable. :happyberet:

#3 wastelanded

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 22:35

The Iroshizuku inks I have tried have been top-shelf, really a pleasure to use. Some colours are more unique than others, some do nothing for me personally, but all are excellent quality inks. Worth the money? That's up to each individual. The one I truly love is Tsuki-yo: to me, it's worth it. A bottle will last me a while, and I feel I deserve it.

For expanding one's palette, Diamine with their 100 colours can't be beat. A whole world of shades to explore. And then there's Noodler's.

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#4 lapis

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 22:37

The Iroshizuku line of inks are Pilot's premium brand of inks and is marketed as such. The inks (in general) possess desirable qualities such as good flow and lubrication along with fast drying times.
Another reason for the high cost outside of Japan would be due to shipping - those bottles are quite hefty.

It all boils down to marketing, in my opinion. Take Caran d'Ache for example; their inks cost more than Iroshizuku. As much as they cost, people are still willing to part with their cash to own these inks. If people are willing to pay $30 dollars for a bottle of ink, then those inks will continue to be produced. I know I would, especially for unique colours.

If you are content with 'standard', reliable inks such as those offered by Sheaffer and Parker, I doubt you'd see the value in boutique brands and premium inks. However if you do decide to widen your palette of ink colours and explore different properties of ink, a vast expanse of inky wonders awaits - you'll be pleasantly surprised; and you don't have to pay through your nose too, Diamine inks are pretty affordable. :happyberet:

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#5 RobbW

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 00:16

They're cheaper in Japan, and used to be cheaper in the USA as well. A few years ago, Pilot raised the minimum price their dealers are allowed to sell in the US. Apparently Pilot has teeth, because no one has been able to sell beneath that price point.

#6 welch

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 00:33

I find Iroshizuku Asa-gao best in several features:

- most beautiful purple/blue

- thick enough, but flows easily

- easy to clean...it's a friendly "guest"

It is a bit more than double the price of Diamine, but I don't use so much ink that I count the dollars-per-gallon. I just bought a bottle of Noodlers Blue Eel, filled a Pelikan 600, a Pelikan 120, a Cleo Skibent Chiffre, and a Mont Blanc 32. The 600 is developing a sluggish piston, and the old 32 has a spot, about at the half full place, where it wants to stop unless persuaded. OK, the Eel is the persuader.

After four piston fills, the Eel has dropped to the upper-most thread in the bottle. That's not very much ink, and four full pens will last. I did four sheets, front and back, on a day when I had only one meeting.

Someone, with patience, might draw a line until they have used a bottle of ink. It would be interesting to know how long the line might be. Frank Dubiel has a table, toward the back of "Da Book", in which he estimates how many characters a fully inked pen could write. One surprise: Dubiel thinks that a Parker 51 aerometric has more writing in it than a P51 Vac...maybe the aerometric collector holds more ink?

Overall, I have a hunch that we spend more money buying fountain pens than buying ink in a typical year. Of course that has changed since the golden age of the '50s -- I'm looking at a mug with about 15 P51 and P61 pens...and I've packed another dozen Parkers. Ken Parker might have been happy, but I bet most people would have thought that...ummmm...excessive.

Edited by welch, 16 March 2013 - 00:34.

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#7 AltecGreen

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 00:45

They're cheaper in Japan, and used to be cheaper in the USA as well. A few years ago, Pilot raised the minimum price their dealers are allowed to sell in the US. Apparently Pilot has teeth, because no one has been able to sell beneath that price point.



Just to expand on this point a bit. They are Pilot's premium line but it is relatively cheap in Japan. The inks retail at ¥1575 (MSRP) and can be found for ¥1260 (~$13.10). Back in 2008/2009, they were even cheaper in terms of USD because of the exchange rate.


JetPens used to sell them at $22. That was a fair price because I could only beat that by buying from Japan directly if I ordered 7 or more bottles. The shipping is what makes the ink expensive.


When Pilot USA decided to formally distribute the inks in the US, they set the US MSRP at $35 and the minimum street price of $28. JetPens was told their source would be cut off if they did not comply. JetPens sources their products directly from Japan. I can try to find the thread when JetPens explained the situation.

So the price of Iroshizuku is high in North America and Europe.

But the flip side is also true. Noodler's is fairly cheap in the US but goes for ~$20 or more in Japan if it can be found.



edit: here's the link to the previous thread.

Edited by AltecGreen, 16 March 2013 - 00:52.

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#8 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:27

I have two different Pilot blacks. One is Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi. The other is Pilot black. I find that the Iroshizuku is a more intense black. The Pilot is a more grayish color and it has a smell sort of like a preservative. Absolutely, I prefer the Iroshizuku black, though I prefer the Pilot bottle. It doesn't look as nice, but the 70 mL bottle has a nice built in stand and it has a plastic insert that makes it easier to use it to the last drop.

That said, my favorite black is Noodler's. Unfortunately, it is too viscous in my vacuum fillers. It traps the bubbles at the bottom of the ink chamber and doesn't let them float up. As a result, the pen quits.

I also enjoy Parker Quink black. It's a nice black, and not expensive.

That said, Iroshizuku has some amazing colors. The only brand that compares is Noodler's, but I think the Iroshizuku has a better theme to the colors. They are more subtle and thought out than Noodler's.
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#9 RLD

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 05:44

I have two different Pilot blacks. One is Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi. The other is Pilot black. I find that the Iroshizuku is a more intense black. The Pilot is a more grayish color and it has a smell sort of like a preservative. Absolutely, I prefer the Iroshizuku black, though I prefer the Pilot bottle. It doesn't look as nice, but the 70 mL bottle has a nice built in stand and it has a plastic insert that makes it easier to use it to the last drop.


And it should be emphasizeed that "standard" Pilot-Namiki ink is comparable in price to other inks - it typically goes for about 12 dollars per bottle here. It's only available in blue and black though. As has been mentioned, iroshizuku is Pilot-Namiki's "premium" line of ink. Pelikan has a similar marketing strategy with its standard line (much more extensive than Pilot-Namiki with ten colors) and then its much more expensive Edelstein premium series (nine colors as compared to 25 colors in the case of iroshizuku).

AltecGreen: that's very interesting info concerning the prices in Japan vs. US!
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#10 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:08

I have two different Pilot blacks. One is Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi. The other is Pilot black. I find that the Iroshizuku is a more intense black. The Pilot is a more grayish color and it has a smell sort of like a preservative. Absolutely, I prefer the Iroshizuku black, though I prefer the Pilot bottle. It doesn't look as nice, but the 70 mL bottle has a nice built in stand and it has a plastic insert that makes it easier to use it to the last drop.


And it should be emphasizeed that "standard" Pilot-Namiki ink is comparable in price to other inks - it typically goes for about 12 dollars per bottle here. It's only available in blue and black though. As has been mentioned, iroshizuku is Pilot-Namiki's "premium" line of ink. Pelikan has a similar marketing strategy with its standard line (much more extensive than Pilot-Namiki with ten colors) and then its much more expensive Edelstein premium series (nine colors as compared to 25 colors in the case of iroshizuku).

AltecGreen: that's very interesting info concerning the prices in Japan vs. US!

Thank-you. I forgot to note the main point of citing these two inks: the Pilot ink is far cheaper than the Iroshizuku.
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#11 akustyk

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 15:58

The Iroshizuku inks I've tried combine most of the desirable qualities, such as good flow, quick drying time, resistance to feathering and bleedthrough, shading, and beautiful colors. It's very hard to combine all such properties in one ink, esp. across such a broad color spectrum. The bottles are beautiful, and the volume of ink generous. I feel like the luxury price is well deserved in this case.

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#12 mhosea

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 19:42

I think the line is an interesting palette, most colors of which I really do not like very much. I can set that aside, though, because I mainly like blue ink, and I do like some of their blue colors. When I take them one-at-a-time and compare it to similar inks from other manufacturers that happen to cost less per ml, they don't really justify their higher prices, IMHO. It is not a matter of diminishing returns, rather of not being better in the first place by my reckoning. Given the choice, I have chosen others instead, and money wasn't even a factor.

Having said that, there are some things I just don't care about, like being fast drying and having "sheen", so I might not be giving them credit where credit is due in some ways. Certainly I have given them no credit for behaving consistently across their entire line, if indeed that is the case.

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#13 kernando

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 20:26

Namiki ink comes in two colors.
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#14 mhosea

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 22:46

Namiki ink comes in two colors.


The OP meant Iroshizuku. On Amazon the Iroshizuku inks are listed under names "Namiki Iroshizuku" or "Pilot Namiki Iroshizuku" or "Pilot Iroshizuku", but in several of them "Namiki" is there in the title.

Edited by mhosea, 16 March 2013 - 22:51.

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#15 Elenita

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 00:29

Perhaps this isn't what the OP had in mind, but continuing the "regular Pilot/Namiki ink is cheaper" theme:

It's possible to find very large (350 ml) bottles of Namiki [edit: Pilot] ink in black, blue, or red*. I've seen them listed on eBay sometimes, usually around the US $40 mark (shipping included), by Japanese sellers. I've never ordered one myself, so I have no idea how long it normally takes or if there are additional customs fees, but that doesn't seem unreasonable for the volume of ink.

Granted, this is rather unusual and would probably only appeal to a small minority, even among FP users. But since we are discussing bang-for-the-buck here, I thought I'd mention it.

*As an interesting aside, I've never seen Namiki [edit: Pilot] red in any other form, including cartridges. I assume the color is exclusive to the Japanese market, but I wonder why.

Edited by elenita, 17 March 2013 - 00:33.


#16 mhosea

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:16

*As an interesting aside, I've never seen Namiki [edit: Pilot] red in any other form, including cartridges. I assume the color is exclusive to the Japanese market, but I wonder why.


Red is available in cartridges (69002). I bought a pack from Paradise Pen about a year ago. Too watery (unsaturated) for me.

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#17 AltecGreen

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:23

I just found this place on Rakuten selling Iroshizuku for effectively $11.47 (¥1102) a bottle.

Edited by AltecGreen, 17 March 2013 - 01:23.

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#18 drwright

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:05

I just found this place on Rakuten selling Iroshizuku for effectively $11.47 (¥1102) a bottle.


The problem with that is shipping to the US will likely be double that price..

#19 AltecGreen

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:21

I just found this place on Rakuten selling Iroshizuku for effectively $11.47 (¥1102) a bottle.


The problem with that is shipping to the US will likely be double that price..



It's never worth the effort to buy a single bottle of ink from abroad. It is worth considering when buying several bottles.



My last order from Japan, the shipping was ¥4700 for seven bottles. That works out with today's exchange rate to roughly $7 shipping per bottle. So it comes out to around $18.50 a bottle shipped.


That's probably a tad expensive for some but it's $10 less per bottle versus buying in the US.

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#20 goby

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 15:06

Some colours are more unique than others


I can't help but point out that things are either unique or not. It's not a term you can quantify, it either is or is not.






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