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TAG Kyoto - kyo iro - Flaming Red of Fushimi

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TAG Kyoto – kyo-iro – Flaming Red of Fushimi



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 center stage is taken by Flaming Red of Fushimi. The vermillion red colour of this ink is a reference to the vibrant torii gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine, that is home to the revered Inari god of abundant harvests, thriving businesses, safe homes & family.



This ink’s colour ranges from a soft rose-red in dry pens to more of a crimson red in wet pens. Use it in a Lamy Safari and you get the soft rose-red look, with subdued shading and a very delicate feel. In a wet pen (like a Pelikan), Flaming Red of Fushimi transforms to a heavily saturated red that loses most of the shading. Personally, I much prefer this kyo-iro ink’s character in the dry pen: soft, subdued, delicate writing that simply looks lovely! And yes, like other TAG Kyoto inks, it feels fairly dry – but if that’s the price to pay for delicate beauty, then I can live with it.
Flaming Red of Fushimi works well with all nib sizes, with enough saturation in even the finest nibs. Be aware that it does feel very dry in EF/F nibs combined with dry pens. On the plus side, this ink looks good on both white and cream paper. 



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 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. Flaming Red of Fushimi has a moderate colour span. This should translate to soft shading, but this only happens in dry pens. With a wet pen, the ink becomes really saturated and drowns out the shading. 



The ink’s chromatography shows uniform & monochromatic red tones. From the bottom part of the chroma you can already derive that this is not a water-resistant ink. Most of the colour dissipates with water. 



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

The ink looks great on all papers – both the white and creamy ones in my test set. Show-through and bleed-through are no problem at all – just a tiny bit of bleed-through on the horrible Moleskine paper. Drying times are in the 5 to 10 second range with the Lamy Safari M-nib. I didn’t find the ink “flaming” at all – the heat remains smoldering beneath the surface. This makes it a non-obtrusive red that is well-suited for marking up papers & articles.






Since scans alone are not always enough to give you a complete picture of the ink, I also provide you with a few photos for an alternative look at Flaming Red of Fushimi. In this case, both the scans and photos seem to capture the ink equally well.





Writing with different nib sizes
The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Flaming Red of Fushimi writes with good contrast in all nib sizes, but feels very dry in the EF/F nibs. Writing quality improves substantially with wet pens. Nevertheless, I prefer to use this ink with a dry pen (like the Lamy Safari), where you get the delicate soft-rose look. A medium-wet pen like the Edison Collier provides a good middle ground: the colour still looks soft & subdued, with the added advantage that the dryness of the ink mostly disappears. 



Related inks
To compare this kyo-iro red 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. Robert Oster Fire Engine Red and Pelikan Edelstein Garnet are very similar looking reds.



Inkxperiment – Fiery Flowers
I love to experiment with my inks in an artistic context. With my inkxperiments, I limit myself to the single ink I’m reviewing, allowing me to explore all of its colour range nuances. I always enjoy this part of the review: experimenting with different techniques, and trying to coax many different shades of colour from the single bottle.  The fiery flowers are a direct reference to the ink’s name: Flaming Red.



For this drawing, I used an A4-sized piece of HP photo paper. I drew in the background by covering it with a paper towel, and painting water-diluted ink on it. The wooden grid pattern was drawn in with a piece of cardboard and pure ink. I next used a brush to paint in the flowers, and added texture using the Lamy Safari M/B fountain pens. And I totally forgot to make my usual drawing-construction photos… As is often the case with red inks, this one is difficult to draw with. Reds saturate quickly, which means that it’s difficult to control the contrast (as is evident with the flowers). Not the nicest drawing, but you do get an idea what Flaming Red of Fushimi is capable of in a more artistic context.

TAG kyo-iro Flaming Red of Fushimi ranges from a soft rose-red to a more vibrant vermillion red, depending on the dryness/wetness of your pen. I definitely prefer this ink in dry pens, where you get a soft & delicate rose-red with subdued shading. In wet pens, I find the ink a bit overwhelming. This is not the type of red I prefer – I like my reds much darker (think MB Shakespeare Velvet Red), but I can see myself using it for marking up papers/articles. A good ink, but not one that I get overly enthusiastic about.

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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  • namrehsnoom


  • LizEF


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Thanks for another wonderful review!  Not sure on the color - I like the super-saturated bit in the drawing, not sure about the paler version - but I always like your reviews. :)

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Excellent review as usual.... Thanks and (as usual, too) no thanks for igniting me to get yet another of "your" inks!!

I like the red but as an under  -- or is it an over -- liking, I like the fact that there are so many different facets of that redishness depending on pens and papers.

Somewhere/wherever it is, I like its reminiscence of the brightly red-coloured corals I once used to see in the Red Sea underwater (with a very strong underwater lamp).

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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A pleasure to see...

For once I think the colour is off compared to the Fushimi Inari shrine...and I'm glad it is.

Even in maximum saturation of your Fiery Flowers the red seems darker...

If one could make a watermelon ink, this would remind me of the written text...It has a refreshing feel to it, despite it being red ;)

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Awesome review as always.  Thank you so much :) 


And thank you also for another lovely little bit of art - these never fail to make me smile.


I don't really do red ink, to the extent that I barely even do burgundy/darker reds, but I'm quite drawn to this one in its dustier iterations. I think it might still be too saturated for me though. I think what I really need is a properly undersaturated red that looks a bit faded before it's even on paper - and ideally is a bit less dry than this. 


If it were a cheaper ink, I'd probably get it to experiment with, but given the cost, I don't really want to be having to tinker with it straight away. I'll add a bit of flow aid, but that's about it, and I don't think that would get me the effect I'm after in this instance. 

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Great review. On some of the papers it almost has a tomato red look. 


For reds I would usually go for burgundy, maroon, and other rich, dark reds but, in your comparison inks, the Papier Plume catches my eye. 

"Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts." - W. H. Auden

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Frank C

Thanks for the review. I'm always searching for the perfect red. This one is a godd color, but it appears washed-out. 

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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