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Ink Review : Iroshizuku Tsukushi (Horsetail)


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Ink Review : Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi (horsetail)




Pen: TWSBI Micarta v2, F-nib

Paper: Rhodia N°16 notepad 80 gsm


"horsetail basking

in sun-showered forest

beautiful inkdrops"


When an ink review starts off with a haiku, you just know that it will cover a Japanese ink. And you would be right ! This review examines Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukushi, a nice reddish-brown ink.


As most of you know, Iroshizuku is Pilot's luxury line of fountain pen inks - read: these inks are really expensive. The name Iroshizuku is a combination of the japanese words Iro (coloring) and Shizuku (droplet). The name is meant to reflect the image of dripping water in a variety of beautiful colors. All the inks in the line are named after natural landscapes & plants, with each ink trying to capture the depth and essence of color of its namesake.


For some reason, iroshizuku inks always remind me of Akira Kurosawa's movie Ran - in his castle, the Great Lord Hidetora Ichimonji writes his final will on a parchment, dividing his domain among his three sons. Iroshizuku tsukushi would have been an ink worthy of such an occasion.




Tsukushi is a nicely saturated soft reddish-brown ink with some subtle shading. The shading is almost unnoticeable in finer nibs, but becomes more pronounced if you move to broader nibs. The reddish components become more visible with the wetter pens. This is a serious-looking ink that is not at all misplaced for business correspondence. It is one of my favorites for use at work. Furthermore, this reddish-brown ink is a match made in heaven for my TWSBI Micarta - these two go together perfectly.




Looking at a chromatography of this ink, you will be amazed at the complexity of the components used - a greyish base complemented with purple and orange dyes. The greyish base is quite water-resistant, as is apparent in the water resistance tests I performed. Even after 30 seconds under running tap water, a clearly readable version of the text remains. Drying times are somewhat high - on the order of 25 seconds with finer nibs on Rhodia paper.

  • Rhodia N°16 notepad 80 gsm - drying time 25-30 seconds, negligible show-through, no bleed-through
  • Paperblanks journal paper - drying time 15-20 seconds, negligible show-through and no bleed-through
  • Generic notepad paper 70 gsm - drying time 10-15 seconds, some show-through and some minimal bleed-through
  • Moleskine journal - drying time 5-10 seconds, serious show-through and very noticeable bleed-through

Overall, a very well-behaving ink on all but the most crappy paper. Drying times are a bit on the high side, but still OK. They haven't really bothered me.




Brown inks are not my personal favorite, but this one I couldn't resist because it pairs perfectly with my TWSBI Micarta. In finer nibs, the ink looks really professional. In broader nibs it exhibits a really nice shading. If you're into browns, you really can't go wrong with this ink. Sure, it's not cheap, but you get a good quality ink in return.


My overall rating: B+

(but A++ when paired with my Micarta ;-)










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Thanks for the review.

I like this in okay, but personally prefer Yama-guri, which is a little more complex (it's a brown/sepia).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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  • 5 years later...

This is my favorite brown ink. I use it most in a Sailor Professional Gear Earth with a very broad nib and in a Dunhill medium nib. Other favorite browns are De Atramentis Tobacco Brown, Edelstein Smokey Quartz, and Pelikan Brilliant Brown. I just refilled the Sailor with Tsukuski, and now my finger is a lovely reddish brown.

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I really like this ink, too. More than I expected to, to be honest. I bought a year-old used Pilot 823 and the seller was nice enough to send it full of this 'matching' ink and include a small 15ml bottle of it. I like brown inks ok, but I already have the Waterman Havana Brown (yes, my bottle is that old) that I only use on occasion. So, my first reaction was, oh no, not another brown ink. But I have been pleasantly surprised at what a nice, easy-going color it is. The Waterman brown has a lot more red to it (on my swatch anyway), which seems to make it write a little darker in my pens. I might even buy another bottle of this horsetail when the 15ml is finished...


Oh, and the seller was right - it matches the Amber 823 perfectly! 😊

FP addict thanks to #Penpalooza. Currently can't stop collecting Diplomats.

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Very nice. I've only just recently become interested in brown inks, which I prefer to black when writing on cream/ivory colored papers for some reason. This looks like a great color.

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