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Tag Kyoto - Kyo-Iro - Soft Snow Of Ohara



namrehsnoom

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namrehsnoom
TAG Kyoto - kyo-iro - Soft Snow of Ohara



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TAG is a stationary shop in Kyoto (Japan) that produces some interesting soft watercolour-style inks. With the kyo-iro series they produce a line of inks that that are inspired by the city's many beautiful and historic sights. Each of these inks is dedicated to a specific town in the Kyoto area. The inks come in 40 ml bottles, packaged in luxurious thick paper with a texture that feels like heavy watercolour paper.



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In this review the spotlight is on Soft Snow of Ohara. This ink is best described as a muted grey-violet-blue, an intriguingly complex colour that is named after winter scenery found in the village of Ohara near Kyoto. During ice-cold winter mornings the snowy landscape can take on a violet-blue tinge... that's the colour captured by this kyo-iro ink. I really like this subtle and delicate soft grey-purple, that seems to shift from violet to blue depending on the quality of the light.


Soft Snow of Ohara is also nicely saturated and relatively wet-writing compared to other TAG Kyoto inks. Shading is simply gorgeous - not too much contrast between the light and darker parts, which makes for an aesthetically pleasing effect. And this beautiful shading even shows up in finer nibs, which is a feat that not too many inks can pull off. The ink looks great on both white and yellow paper: delicate, understated, elegant simplicity.



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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 the Tomoe River paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. As you can see, Soft Snow of Ohara moves from very low to relatively high saturation, without resulting in extreme contrast between the light and darker parts. This translates to elegant & subtle shading over a wide range of nib sizes.



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The ink's chromatography looks rather monochromatic at first sight, but a closer look shows a range of undertones in the ink - grey, blue, purple, red. Subtle complexity that translates to a beautiful writing ink. In swabs the ink appears like a greyed-down violet, while in writing it's more of an indigo-blue. As is apparent from the lower part of the chroma, the ink has very low water resistance. This is confirmed in my tests: water quickly obliterates your writing, leaving only unreadable smudges on the paper.



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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 B-nib Lamy Safari

  • A small text sample, written with the M-nib Safari

  • Source of the quote, with a Pelikan M120 with F nib

  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari)


Soft Snow of Ohara behaves well on my test papers, with only a tiny (almost invisible) amount of feathering on the more absorbent papers. On lower quality paper there is quite some see-through and bleed-through. Drying times were mostly in the 5 to 10 second range with the Lamy Safari M-nib. The ink looks great on both white and more yellow paper, and lays down a well-saturated line on the page.



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Writing with different nib sizes

The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Kyo-iro Soft Snow of Ohara can handle all nib sizes without problem. With the EF nib, you still get a nicely saturated line. Shading is present in all nib sizes. As usual, broader nibs accentuate the ink's shading capabilities, which never gets too harsh but always remains subtle and elegant. I like the greyed down character of this ink, that adds a layer of sophistication to what would otherwise be a simple indigo-blue. Plus points for character!



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Related inks

To compare Soft Snow of Ohara 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. Of special note is the comparison with kyo-no-oto sakuranezumi, which I also like a lot. When you see them side by side, Soft Snow of Ohara is obviously more blue-leaning, while the purple dominates in sakuranezumi. Robert Oster Purple Rock comes close, but is a touch more purple.


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Inkxperiment - moment of zen

With every review, I try to create an interesting drawing using only the ink I'm working on. These inkxperiments show what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. They are my favourite part of doing an ink review: simply playing around with the ink, and having lots of fun. Inspiration for this drawing comes from the Dreamworks film company logo with the fishing boy sitting on the moon. From here it shifted to a scene with a boy fishing at a lake within a cave.



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I started with a piece of HP photo paper. This has become one of my favourites for ink drawings: inks really look much more vibrant on this medium. To create the background I covered the photo paper with a wet piece of kitchen towel, and then applied strongly water-diluted ink with a brush. The ink filters through the kitchen towel onto the photo paper, creating a nicely textured background. Next I used a brush with 1:1 water water-diluted ink to paint in the cave contours. The final scene was drawn in with my Safari fountain pens and pure Soft Snow of Ohara. The end result gives you a good idea what can be achieved with this kyo-iro as a drawing ink.



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Conclusion

TAG kyo-iro Soft Snow of Ohara is a beautiful greyed down indigo-blue that is a real pleasure to write with: nicely saturated, relatively wet-writing, looks great on all paper types. The muted tone of this ink provides an extra dimension of elegance and simplicity, and gives extra character to what would otherwise be another indigo-blue. Really well executed! Soft Snow of Ohara is also a fine drawing ink, that I enjoyed a lot. Another great ink from TAG Kyoto.


Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib


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Back-side of writing samples on different paper types


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  • JulieParadise

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  • namrehsnoom

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  • XYZZY

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  • Jarod

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Gorgeous review. Thank you.

 

I have been looking for a perfect, snowy winter ink. This looks close to it and I will track some down.

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TheDutchGuy

That’s indeed a very interesting, pleasing, complex colour! I like it very much. Thanks for the wonderful review and the great artwork, very inspiring.

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Such a breathtakingly beautiful review.....

Your inkxperiment permeates a sense of serenity, peace and contentment ...

 

Namaste

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A question about the Tag inks... I first learned of their inks as "Kyo-no-oto". Then later figured out the brand is "Tag" and not "Kyo-no-oto". Now this one is "Kyo-iro". I'm guessing these are two different product lines, but am interested in what the two lines might be targeting, as well as what the names mean.

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Outstanding review! I have been considering this ink for some time, but I had read reviews that indicated it was too light, one suggested it was too dry, another that it was chalky looking. But your review dispels all of these naysayers and reveals a subtle, calm grey-blurple. I love it and now feel comfortable to purchase a bottle. Thank you!

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today

 

 

 

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Thank you for the splendid review. This is one of my two favorite inks.

 

I just want to make a comment on the comparison with Robert Oster Purple Rock, which might be less expensive in some locales but which really isn't a good substitute. I have found Purple Rock to be drier than Soft Snow of Ohara, although not as dry as some other Oster inks, but more importantly, Purple Rock looks green or turns green on many papers. I have a bottle but will not replace it when it runs out.

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Wonderful review. I specially loved the quotes from Terry Pratchet. Made me want to re-read all f his books.

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namrehsnoom

I have found Purple Rock to be drier than Soft Snow of Ohara, although not as dry as some other Oster inks, but more importantly, Purple Rock looks green or turns green on many papers. I have a bottle but will not replace it when it runs out.

 

I can confirm that Purple Rock's chemistry clashes with some papers. The ugly "turning green" happened e.g. with the Moleskine paper. At the time I reviewed Purple Rock, there weren't that many papers in my test-bank, but I guess the "turning green" can also happen on other paper types. Fortunately for me, Purple Rock looks great on Paperblanks, which is my daily journaling writing gear.

 

I'm going to have another look at it. Colourwise, they look similar enough to deserve a shoot-out.

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namrehsnoom

A question about the Tag inks... I first learned of their inks as "Kyo-no-oto". Then later figured out the brand is "Tag" and not "Kyo-no-oto". Now this one is "Kyo-iro". I'm guessing these are two different product lines, but am interested in what three two lines might be targeting, as well as what the name mean.

 

I have no knowledge of Japanese myself, but from what I could find online the name "kyo-no-oto" translates roughly to "sounds of Kyoto", and these inks seem to be named after traditional colours occurring in the history of Kyoto. "Kyo-iro" translates to "places of Kyoto" and these inks are named after places in the area surrounding Kyoto.

TAG Kyoto has a third line called Fumisome - these inks are based on plant ingredients like the old traditional inks. I got a couple of these, but haven't tried them yet. Soon...

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I can confirm that Purple Rock's chemistry clashes with some papers. The ugly "turning green" happened e.g. with the Moleskine paper. At the time I reviewed Purple Rock, there weren't that many papers in my test-bank, but I guess the "turning green" can also happen on other paper types. Fortunately for me, Purple Rock looks great on Paperblanks, which is my daily journaling writing gear.

 

I'm going to have another look at it. Colourwise, they look similar enough to deserve a shoot-out.

 

One year I used Purple Rock as a green on those holiday gift tags that one peels off a sheet. On that slick paper, the shade of green was actually somewhat attractive, but on other papers the green is of a shade that doesn't appeal to me at all.

 

I look forward to your comparison!

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i love this color.. i also thought i woould love Cara d Ache Ultra Violet but i dont... it's far too muted and flat. I've tried various mixes to come up with something more pleasing but still can't get to a color like this... I've been working with Asa Gao, Purple Reign and Ultra Violet... anyone have thoughts around how to approximate this amazing color? (I know i could try and find a bottle and as challenging as that wi\ould be... where's the fun in that?)

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JulieParadise

This one is not enough to start a new thread as it is just a little impression of Soft Snow of Ohara which I prepared for the #30inks30dayschallenge over at the German PenExchange forum:

 

fpn_1590793641__2020_05_29_kyo-iro_soft_

 

It does need a wetter pen as it seems to be a dryer ink, so the Sailor/Nagasawa Kobe Proske (1911s / Profit Standard) with its wet Zoom nib that even writes upside down like a dream is a good enough match. Probably a really broad & wet vintage OBB would be even better ... :)

 

Click on the pic to enlarge!

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tealeaf_egg

A question about the Tag inks... I first learned of their inks as "Kyo-no-oto". Then later figured out the brand is "Tag" and not "Kyo-no-oto". Now this one is "Kyo-iro". I'm guessing these are two different product lines, but am interested in what the two lines might be targeting, as well as what the names mean.

Kyo-no-oto means sounds of Kyoto, and kyo-iro means colors of Kyoto. (For those linguistically curious, kyo-iro requires no "no" particle because -iro can be used as a suffix quite easily). Both "oto" and "iro" are used very metaphorically in the arts as a way to convey the atmosphere of something - for example, "kimi-iro" means "you-colored" and features sometimes in songs about longing.

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I have no knowledge of Japanese myself, but from what I could find online the name "kyo-no-oto" translates roughly to "sounds of Kyoto", and these inks seem to be named after traditional colours occurring in the history of Kyoto. "Kyo-iro" translates to "places of Kyoto" and these inks are named after places in the area surrounding Kyoto.

TAG Kyoto has a third line called Fumisome - these inks are based on plant ingredients like the old traditional inks. I got a couple of these, but haven't tried them yet. Soon...

 

 

Kyo-no-oto means sounds of Kyoto, and kyo-iro means colors of Kyoto. (For those linguistically curious, kyo-iro requires no "no" particle because -iro can be used as a suffix quite easily). Both "oto" and "iro" are used very metaphorically in the arts as a way to convey the atmosphere of something - for example, "kimi-iro" means "you-colored" and features sometimes in songs about longing.

 

Thank you both for that information. I wish I could claim "I get it now", but I'd by lying. I do feel a bit less ignorant, though :-)

 

I would not have guessed "-no-oto" to be "sounds of". Google translate suggested that, but I figured it was just a machine translation error. My only experience with a Tag inks is Kyo-No-Oto Nurebairo, and the reviews I read before buying evoked ravens and women's hair--not quite what I would consider sounds :-) ... found it. That was from jandrese's review: https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/339748-kyo-no-oto-no-1-nurebairo/ and to be clear he never claimed that is what it was named for.

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