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TAG Kyoto - kyo-no-oto imayouiro


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TAG Kyoto – kyo-no-oto – imayouiro



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 online info, the manufacturing process of these 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.



In this review the spotlight is on imayouiro, a bright and vibrant pink-coloured ink. Not an ink that fits my personal taste – I got it anyway because I want to try everything that TAG Kyoto has to offer. Although the ink’s colour is not my thing, I will still do my best to give you an objective review.

Imayouiro is definitely not well-lubricated: in my usual Safari test pens, it writes dry and with serious feedback. With wetter pens, the lubrication issue is easily fixed, and you also get a much more saturated line. With dry pens, the ink looks quite nice and shows decent and elegant shading. Unfortunately, once you move to wetter pens, the ink’s saturation quickly drowns out that shading, and you get a very one-dimensional look, that I personally find unpleasing… the geisha is applying too much make-up, all beauty hidden beneath flat-looking paint. 



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. Imayouiro has a medium colour span, without too much contrast between light and darker parts. With dry writers, this translates to elegant shading. Wet pens tend to show only the upper part of the colour span: with imayouiro, shading is lost and your writing turns fairly flat and uninteresting.



The ink’s chromatography shows a single-dye composition, with most of the colour moving away with water. This is confirmed in the water test at the end of the review: most of the ink disappears when you have a watery accident, leaving only some pink smudges on the paper. Imayouiro is not a water-resistant ink.



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 Safari
  • A small text sample, written with the M-nib Safari
  • Source of the quote, written with a Pilot Capless with M-nib
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari)

There is no visible feathering with this ink – it behaves well in this respect even on crappy paper. With low-quality paper there is a small amount of bleed-through. Not much, but enough to make the back-side of the paper unusable for writing.  Drying times are mostly around the 5 second mark on absorbent paper, and 10 seconds on more hard-surfaced paper (with the Lamy Safari M-nib).

Be aware that I mainly use the dry-writing Lamy Safari for the writing samples. As stated before, imayouiro looks real nice with these dry pens. When writing a full page with a wet pen, you get a much flatter look, that I personally find unappealing… too much make-up!






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 scanner and photo capture quite well the real-world colour. 





Writing with different nib sizes
The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Kyo-no-oto iamyouiro is a vibrant and saturated ink, that works well with all nib sizes, even the finest ones. With dry pens, you get some beautiful shading. Use wetter pens though, and most of that shading is drown out – the ink then loses a lot of its appeal. For me, this TAG Kyoto ink is best used with pens that are on the dry side.



Related inks
To compare imayouiro 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. The two inks that – in my opinion – come closest are Pelikan Edelstein Turmaline (the 2012 ink-of-the-year, that is now unobtanium) and Callifolio Andrinople. Turmaline is quite alike, but is a more complex ink that looks more interesting on the page. Callifolio Andrinople has a bit less red in the mix, and looks softer and more fragile (also a geisha, but one that uses moderation with her make-up). Personally, I find both Turmaline and Andrinople superior pinks.



Inkxperiment – Tenerife Sunset
For my ink reviews, I always add a drawing using only the ink I’m working on. This inkxperiment is a great way to illustrate all the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. I really enjoy this part of my reviews – experimenting with the ink in a more artsy context. 

For this inkxperiment, inspiration comes from a recent family vacation on the Canary Islands – a real treat, and the first real holiday in two years. We visited the Teide Volcano National Park in Tenerife at late afternoon – an eerily beautiful place! At sunset, my niece made a photo of our shadows. I used this photo as the subject of this inkxperiment – with a bit of artistic freedom: I added the setting sun (which obviously is nonsense, because you can’t get the shadows I painted with the sun in front).



I started with a piece of A4-sized HP photo paper, on which I placed a paper cut-out of our shadows. I then covered the lot with a piece of kitchen towel, that I thoroughly wetted with water-diluted ink, thus creating the background. I drew in the sun using a plastic cup, and darkened the ground below with a piece of dish-washing sponge dipped in pure ink. Finally, I removed the paper cut-out, and filled in the shadows with a paintbrush and pure imayouiro. The resulting drawing shows what can be achieved with this kyo-no-oto ink in an artsy context.



Inkxpired – computational art
I love experimenting with pen/ink/paper, and am now adding another layer as part of the hobby. I’m exploring computational art, inspired by the ink drawings I do during ink reviews. Another fun offshoot of the hobby… and all that starting with a few drops of dye-coloured water on paper.



TAG Kyoto kyo-no-oto imayouiro is a very pink ink – vibrant and saturated.  It looks best when paired with dry-writing pens where it shows some really nice shading, but – alas – also sub-par lubrication. With wet pens the writing experience improves substantially, but the ink also tends to over-saturate, resulting in a fairly flat look (my opinion). A nice ink to try out for the purpose of this review, but not one that convinced me.

Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Pelikan M405 F-nib



Back-side of writing samples on different paper types






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  • yazeh


  • namrehsnoom


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7 minutes ago, namrehsnoom said:

With dry pens, the ink looks quite nice and shows decent and elegant shading. Unfortunately, once you move to wetter pens, the ink’s saturation quickly drowns out that shading, and you get a very one-dimensional look

Well, that's depressing.  I rather like the look of this ink, but the above seems like a catch-22 situation!


Thank you for the review and the fun vacation art! :)  (And accompanying art lesson.)  I think Andrinople may be worth a try. ;) 

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Fantastic review :thumbup: of a very Pink ink. 

I loved your art work... truly inspired...

But what stayed with me is the : "the geisha is applying too much make-up, all beauty hidden beneath flat-looking paint,"

This resumes this ink for me. 🙏

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Thanks again for yet another of your stunning reviews. Above all your list of related "companions". All in all, an ink that I quickly ended up not getting all that hot about, although it is (IMO) an outstanding rendition of a raspberry.

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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Thank you @namrehsnoom - fabulous review as always, and an inspiring inkxperiment. 


It's rare that I find myself owning an ink I don't particularly like, but I'm afraid this is one of them (along with a couple of others from the grid). I think that one of these days, they may have to form part of an inkshift exercise!

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Thank you @namrehsnoom for this comprehensive review. I appreciate the effort you put into your ink presentations - they are all a pleasure to read and to look at!

I see the similarity to P.Edelstein Star Ruby which calms down my reflex of "buy it, buy it!" for the imayouiro.

Thank you for the comparison! 😄

One life!

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OK ... I was just thinking I needed to find a vibrant pink & here's your reivew of a new-to-ths-FP-noob brand! It looks like a fun ink that might do well for markups on cheap paper!

I am different.  Let this not alarm you.  ~ Paracelsus

If you're interested in corresponding, let me know!


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17 hours ago, frolic838 said:

OK ... I was just thinking I needed to find a vibrant pink & here's your reivew of a new-to-ths-FP-noob brand! It looks like a fun ink that might do well for markups on cheap paper!

Vanness announced an ink sale for May 30-31 and I see bottles / samples of this one.


Too many sales this weekend!

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, dragondazd said:

Too many sales this weekend!

*ears perk up*  Inks & sales are my JAM!

ETA: Also this made me realize I don't get the Vanness newsletter.  Thanks!

Edited by frolic838
Hit enter too soon.

I am different.  Let this not alarm you.  ~ Paracelsus

If you're interested in corresponding, let me know!


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