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Tag Kyoto - Kyo-Iro - Cherry Blossom Of Keage


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TAG Kyoto - kyo-iro - Cherry Blossom of Keage


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.


In this review the spotlight is on Cherry Blossom of Keage. This is a soft and delicate red-leaning rose ink, whose colour is inspired by the sight of cherry blossoms arching over the train tracks at Kyoto's Keage Incline in the spring. I don't usually write with pink/rose inks, but that doesn't mean I can't like them. And this ink does look beautiful - it's a quiet and toned-down rose, that captures quite well the delicacy of the cherry blossom.

Cherry Blossom of Keage is a nicely saturated and relatively wet-writing ink. It provides a sufficient but not too harsh contrast with the paper, making it easy to read in all nib sizes from EF to 1.9 stub. It lays down a substantially darker rose line with wet pens like my Pelikan M101N Red Tortoise. The ink looks great on both white and yellow paper. In fact, this is one of the few inks that I like better on yellow paper, where it looks softer and more delicate.


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, Cherry Blossom of Keage moves from medium 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. The shading is mostly absent with my Lamy EF nib, but is present in F and above. Due to the restrained contrast, shading looks both elegant and subtle. Wetter pens - like my Pelikan - lay down a much darker and more saturated line, and the subtle shading almost drowns in the saturation. I definitely prefer this ink in drier pens.


The ink's chromatography shows pink, red and purple-grey tones, that combine to the rose-red colour of this Cherry Blossom. The purple-grey - I've found no better way to describe it - removes any vibrancy from the ink, and is probably responsible for the ink's toned down appearance. The result is simply lovely. The lower part of the chroma seems to indicate that the purple-grey remains attached to the paper. In reality though, this ink is absolutely not water-resistant. Some colour remains on the paper, but it's only smudges and nothing really legible remains.


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 M101N with F nib

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

Cherry Blossom of Keage behaves really well on my test papers, with no noticeable feathering, not even on the notoriously bad Moleskine paper. See-through and bleed-through are also absent. Only with the Moleskine paper did I get visible bleed-through when using broad nibs or wet pens. Drying times are mostly in the 10 second range with the Lamy Safari M-nib. The ink looks great on all papers, but - as I already mentioned - I like it better on the more yellowish paper.





Writing with different nib sizes

The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Kyo-iro Cherry Blossom of Keage can handle all nib sizes without a problem. With the EF nib, you still get a nicely saturated line. Shading is present in nib sizes of F and above when using dry pens. With wet pens, the shading tends to disapper, buried under a much darker-rose saturated line. This is one ink whose looks I prefer in dry nibs/pens!


Related inks

To compare Cherry Blossom of Keage 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. Diamine Amaranth comes close in colour, but lacks the delicate and soft-toned nature of this kyo-iro ink.


Inkxperiment - Spring is in the Air

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 without any doubt my favourite part of doing an ink review: playing with the ink, experimenting with drawing techniqes and just having lots of fun. For this drawing, the topic derives from the ink's name: cherry blossom. No need to brainstorm another theme for this inkxperiment!


I started with a piece of HP photo paper. This has become my favourite medium for ink drawings. The photo paper really enhances any ink's colour, making it look much more vibrant. I first created the background, experimenting with some drawing materials like kitchen paper and a plastic sheet with holes in it. This translates to a nicely textured background for the cherry blossom. The resulting drawing shows what can be achieved when using this kyo-iro ink for artistic purposes.


TAG kyo-iro Cherry Blossom of Keage is a soft rose-red ink - quiet, elegant, delicate... An ink with lots of character, that works on all papers and in all nib sizes. This is also one of the few inks that I prefer on more yellow paper, which essentially enhances Cherry Blossom's delicate character. The ink also works quite well for artistic purposes. I really enjoyed using this TAB Kyoto ink - if you are on the lookout for this type of colour, Cherry Blossom is certainly worth a try.

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


Back-side of writing samples on different paper types





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I'm so glad you're back and with my favorite Japanese brand. :)

I have to say, I really love this colour.....It's what we would call, vieux rose, as it reminds me of old gallic roses.


I feel this review has softened the edged of this day. So thank you :)

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What a lovely color. I had picked up a bottle of Kyo-no-oto Sakuranezumi when I was in Boston in early September, but now wishing I'd picked up this one as well (or maybe instead... :huh:). I'd be curious to see what this looks like side by side with Lamy Vibrant Pink.

Thanks for the review. And well, not.... :headsmack: My wallet! My poor poor wallet!

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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