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TAG Kyoto kyo-no-oto ryokuyuiro TAG is a stationary shop in Kyoto (Japan) that produces some interesting soft watercolour-style inks. With the kyo-no-oto series they produce a line of inks that replicates traditional Japanese dye colours. According to available only info, the manufacturing process of the kyo-no-oto inks follows traditional dying techniques dating back to the Heian era between the years 794 and 1185. The inks come in 40 ml bottles, packaged in luxurious thick paper with a texture that feels like heavy watercolour paper. For this review, ryokuyuiro is the shimmering star in the spotlight. Like so many other ink producers recently, TAG Kyoto also jumped on the glitter-ink bandwagon. With this ink, they added some silver glitter – fortunately, they didn’t exaggerate with the glitter particles. And even more fortunately, the glimmer isn’t there to cover up for a boring ink colour. Personally, I just ignored the glitter – don’t shake the bottle before filling your pen, and all the silver dust particles remain at the bottom. Ryokuyuiro is a beautiful muted green with strong blue undertones. Not yet a teal, but definitely reaching towards blue territory. A dangerous colour spectrum to explore, but this kyo-no-oto ink manages to walk the fine line. It could easily have been a failure, but with ryokuyuiro the result is a stunning ink colour. The ink’s name is derived from the ryokuyu glaze, which produces a green colour in pottery. It is one of the oldest glazes and was already used in China in BC. In Japan, it has been produced since the Heian period and has been favoured by many aristocrats. The ink captures the colour wonderfully well – a soft pastel-like dusty dark green with that beautiful blue undertone. This colour caters perfectly to my personal taste – a great ink to start off the new year! The ink feels fairly wet and well-lubricated, especially when compared with others in the kyo-no-oto series. In fact – I would recommend using the ink with drier pens. With dry pens, ryokuyuiro looks even more dusty, and shows some really elegant & expressive shading. The ink is not without its flaws though: on more absorbent paper it has a slight tendency to feather, and with lower quality paper it definitely suffers from see-through and some bleed-through. But use this ink with good quality and hard-surface paper and you will be in writer’s heaven! To show you the impact of saturation on the ink’s look & feel on paper, I made some scribbles where I really saturated portions of a strip of 52 gsm Tomoe River paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. Ryokuyurio has a medium colour span, with a soft contrast between the light and darker parts. At the lighter end, the blue undertones are clearly visible. At the dark end, you get that yummy dusty dark green. In writing, this translates to soft and aesthetically pleasing shading that adds both character and beauty. Nicely done! Before doing the saturation sample, I stirred the bottle of ink to activate the shimmer. The silver glitter particles are present, but not in-your-face. They are mostly visible when looking at the paper from a fairly steep angle. See the picture below for some glitter in action: The ink’s chromatography shows the dusty character of the ink, and the delicate mix of yellow and blue dyes. TAG Kyoto’s ink masters balanced the dye mix extremely well, providing us with a beautiful soft & dusty blue-leaning green. Kudos! The bottom part of the chroma already suggests that this is not a water resistant ink. This is confirmed in the water test at the end of this review: ryokuyuiro cannot survive watery accidents. I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On every small band of paper I show you: An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation An ink scribble made with an M-nib Lamy Safari The name of the paper used, written with a Pelikan M200 with M cursive italic nib (and with the shimmer activated) A small text sample, written with an M-nib Pelikan M120 Green-Black Source of the quote, with a B-nib Lamy Safari Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) Since this is my first review of 2022, you get a new set of quotes. This year, quotes originate from Dennis Taylor’s Bobiverse novels. Original SciFi novels with a strong humorous touch, and lots of references to the Star Trek and Star Wars universe (it helps when you know this stuff, otherwise you might miss the relevance of e.g. a reference to the Kobayashi Maru scenario). I really enjoyed reading these novels. Ryokuyuiro looks beautiful on all types of paper – it shows it muted pastel-like character really well on both white and creamy paper. The ink exhibits a small amount of feathering on lower quality paper, together with definite show-through and bleed-through. With hard-surface high-quality paper none of these shortcomings appear. Drying times with the Safari M-nib are mostly in the 5 to 10 second range. I’ve also added a few photos to give you another view on the ink. Scanned images and photos often capture different aspects of the ink’s colour & contrast. That’s why I present them both. In this case, both scan and photo capture ryokuyuiro’s colour equally well. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Ryokuyuiro can handle the complete nib-range without any problem. It shows truly elegant and expressive shading, even with the finer nibs. The ink’s dusty character is best expressed when using drier pens like the Lamy Safari. With wetter pens you get stronger saturation, and some of that dustiness gets lost. Anyway – the ink manages to look stunning and beautiful no matter what combination of pen and nib you use. Related inks To compare the dusty-green ryokuyuiro with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test – all in a very compact format. I don’t have enough inks in this colour-range to fill the grid, so I had to add a few more distant relatives. Mont Blanc Jungle Green comes close, as does the Murky Waters ink mix (3 parts Pelikan Edelstein Jade – 2 parts Pelikan Edelstein Onyx). Inkxperiment – aboriginal lizard With every review, I add an inkxperiment using only the ink I am presenting. Such a one-ink drawing works great to show off the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. These inkxperiments are the favourite part of my reviews: always loads of fun and a perfect way to experiment with inks using a number of different techniques. I recently viewed a documentary on Australian Aboriginal culture, where the gecko lizard represents the deity Adnoartina. Inspiration for this inkxperiment comes from an aboriginal art drawing I saw on Pinterest. I started with an A4 piece of 300 gsm watercolour paper. To paint the background, I used heavily water-diluted ink – which brings the blue undertones of ryokuyuiro to the foreground. Next I coloured in the lizard figure with my Lamy Safari B-nib fountain pen filled with pure ryokuyuiro. I finally used an old Kaweco sport filled with bleach to outline the lizard’s silhouette. Bleach reacts nicely with ryokuyuiro, producing a golden colour. As a finishing touch, I stamped in the lizard’s paw prints with a self-made rubber stamp. The resulting drawing shows what can be achieved with this soft pastel-like green in a more artistic context. Conclusion TAG Kyoto kyo-no-oto ryokuyuiro is a stunning dusty blue-leaning green, that implements this difficult colour range superbly well. It’s so easy to miss the mark here – add too much blue, and you’re in teal territory. With ryokuyuiro, the balance is perfect and results in a soft & elegant pastel-tinted green. Wonderful stuff and a great way to start off the new year! Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Back-side of writing samples on different paper types