Category Archives: Ink

Spreading the Joy/Addiction

I think I’ve got my colleague hooked now, and all it took was some colorful pretty dyes.

As I’ve used my nearly endless supply of fountain pens, my colleague grew intrigued by the also nearly endless supply of different ink flavors I used. She liked the teals and blue-greens and the orange inks. Eventually, she bought a selection of gateway drugs: a Pilot Cocoon in orange;   a Platinum Preppy; and a couple other cheap, small fountain pens.

She started out using cartridges, but would swap ink colors without cleaning the pen. This led to a few interesting colors getting ruined by leftovers.

Recently, and without any direct prodding from me, she’s decided to try bottled inks and converters. She bought a few cheap Chinese pens to play with. (Note: I will eventually give her a converter for her Pilot so that she may fully witness the horror that is Pilot converters.) She also bought an impressive first bottled ink.

I showed her how to fill the first converter full, getting ink on my fingers as is appropriate. I also brought a couple flavors from home for her to try (Kingdom Note Kabutomushi and Bungu Box Hamanako Mandarin) in her other pens.

Since then she’s refilled on her own, getting ink on her fingers as is appropriate, and had discovered which kind of nib she likes. She’s also discovered the joys of nib creep and getting ink on your fingers without even trying.

Next, it will be time for her to realize that spending over $50 dollars on a pen isn’t that crazy. Once that happens, the escalation will begin and she’ll be fully addicted.

Then my work will be done.


The Advantages of Confusion and Panic

Recently Sailor Ink has been doing some strange things and it’s actually helping me out.

For reasons no one can understand (well, money actually) Sailor has been changing the sizes of its ink bottles. The new bottles are smaller (20 ml), look like little jelly/jam sample jars, and “only” cost 1000 yen (1080 with tax). This means that 50 ml of ink, the old standard size, now cost 2500 yen, or 2700 with tax. The fear is that this means the price of the old new bottles is going up.

Adding to the fear and confusion, Sailor is offering popular ink flavors in the new bottles which makes pen addicts fear these are destined to become the new normal size.

I’ve not tried the new new bottles yet, but given how badly the old new bottles–which look like squat flying saucers–sucked, I’m not expecting the new new bottles will work well with larger pens.

Granted, they may be useful as samples for people not willing to spend 2160 yen on a full bottle, but the pen community panics easily and Sailor has a habit of making odd decisions about bottles and ink flavors.

As a result, I’ve had good luck clearing out a large portion of my over-bought inventory of ink. That makes it hard for me to complain about the new bottles.

New Place New Rules

I posted the sale pens and sold three of them fairly quickly. Since then things have been silent at the usual place.

Posting the pens violates all kinds of collector/hoarder sensibilities. I can think of dozens of excuses why I shouldn’t post just yet. Two of my oldest pens sold first and think, symbolically, that’s a useful thing. Normally, like George Carlin, I prefer to leave symbols to the symbol-minded, but this time, because the pens are two of my most sentimental, it’s only right they are the first to go.

To break the silence, I’ve looked into other places to post the pens but those places have different rules. You can sell things but not very often. You can only post fountain pen related items. You can’t be a commercial venture. You can’t be icky. (Well, something like that.)

Because I’ve got a couple non-fountain pens in the sale and because I also have a lot of ink to move, I wrote the manager of a fountain pen related Facebook group to ask a few questions. I’m waiting for a response (mostly about ink which is kind of/sort of a commercial venture) but even if I haven’t heard back I’ll post the pens on a Facebook group tomorrow and hope for the best. (I will also offer to send a link about the ink.)

Luckily I have lots of time next week to pack and ship. Hopefully I’ll have more stuff to ship. If I manage to follow the rules, I should be okay. Probably.


Kingdom Note’s Japanese “Biological” Inks–All the Swatches (Plus Two)

Note: My apologies for this unfortunately long post. I’ve attempted to align smaller versions of the pictures side by side but have failed miserably and feel it’s best not to teach my daughters any more bad words than they’ve already learned up to this point. Also, please forgive the few misspellings and the constant bad handwriting.

Note Too: The photos appear as close to the physical swatches as I can get them on my home monitor. Your version of the pictures may vary substantially from the way I see them.


For reasons I’ve mentioned before I consider myself the official international distributor of Kingdom Note‘s Japanese “Biological” series of inks. They feature colors taken from flora and fauna that live in and near Japan.

Although I don’t own all the inks, I did take samples as they passed through the variety room and, based on those, bought several for myself.

In general, I find the KN inks to be less saturated than many other specialty Sailor inks, Bungubox for example, but they are gentle on your pens.


The Birds

In this series my favorite is Kiji (Green Pheasant). It has more shade and sheen than seen in the photo below. It also tends to go down dark but dry with a paler look.

Oshidori (Mandarin Duck) has a nice terracotta look and is almost always in one of my pens.

I also like Rurikakeshi (Lidth’s Jay) but there are other blues I like better. Lidth’s Jay is a bit more pale than as shown in the photo.

Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon)

Toki (Crested Ibis)

Rurikakeshi (Lidth’s Jay)

Kiji (Green Pheasant)

Oshidori (Mandarin Duck)

The Crustaceans

In this series I’m particularly fond of Yashigani (Coconut Crab). I like the mahogany/chocolate look and like that it works in different nib sizes. I also like Kurumaebi, but mostly in medium and broad nibs.

Shiomaneki (Fiddler Crab) is another favorite, although I understand why people don’t like it. I think it works best in wet medium and broad nibs.

I like Takaashigani (Spider Crab) but only in certain pens.

Kurumaebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn aka Shrimp)

Shiomaneki (Fiddler Crab)

Takaashigani (Spider Crab)

Yashigani (Coconut Crab)

Nihonzarigani (Blue Crayfish)

The Fungi

I’m not as fond of this series as the others. In fact, the only one I own is Kawaratake (aka Blue Fungus). It is one of my favorite blue inks (I can’t decide if it counts as a blue-black or not). I also like the look of Moegitake (aka Green Mushroom) but haven’t used it.

Benitengutake (Fly Agaric) reminds me of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki. I don’t currently own a bottle, but it’s on the well, yeah, maybe some day list.

Sorairotake (aka Sky Blue Mushroom)

Sakuratake (aka Pink Mushroom)

Moegitake (aka Green Mushroom)

Kawaratake (aka Blue Fungus)

Benitengutake (Fly Agaric)

The Bugs

My mother always says the only good bug is a dead bug, which means she would probably smash these bottles once she saw the pictures of bugs on them, but this is probably my favorite series. The only one I don’t own is Okuwagata (Stag Beetle). It has a nice green sheen to it, but there are other black inks I like better.

Omurasaki (Japanese Emperor Butterfly) is usually in at least one of my pens. Note that it may be slightly more lavender than the picture below but I got is as close as possible.

Higurashi (Green Cicada) is a new favorite. Ruriboshikamikiri (Blue Beetle) is a nice blue.

My favorite, though, is Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros beetle) Yes, I know it’s misspelled on the swatch. I especially like it in my LAMY 2000. It seems to match perfectly to that pen’s F nib.

Higurashi (Green Cicada)

Omurasaki (Japanese Emperor Butterfly)

Ruriboshikamikiri (Rosalia Bates, aka Blue Beetle)

Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros Beetle)

Okuwagata (Stag Beetle).

The Jellyfish

I don’t own and have not used this series. I like the Murasakikurage (aka Purple Jellyfish) and may get a bottle in the future. I’m torn on Yanagikurage (Sea Nettle). It reminds me of Noodler’s Apache Sunset, but has the advantage of drying in this lifetime.

Owankurage (aka Mint Jellyfish)

Murasakikurage (aka Purple Jellyfish)

Ginkodurage (aka Blue Jellyfish)

Yanagikurage (Sea Nettle)

Tacokurage (aka Pink Jellyfish)

Bonus Inks: The Tale of Genji Series

This is part of a new series of inks (with accompanying pens) recently released by Kingdom Note. Four inks have been released, but I’ve only been able to get my hands on two.

I like Tachibana but am not a fan of Asahanada’s Fabric (misidentified as Asao’s Fabric on the swatch).

Tale of Genji Series Asahanada’s Fabric

Tale of Genji Series Tachibana


Lost in the Ink World

Yesterday I mentioned how I went to a knife show and somehow managed to buy ink. Today I somehow managed to sell almost all of that ink. The problem is, now I have to go back and hope the monster I unleashed hasn’t cleaned the place out so that I can buy and sell more.

After I posted pics of the ink on Instagram (mostly to test the waters for potential buyers) I also helped some locals find the store and at least one of those locals will buy one of each. Given the reaction of the clerk when I ordered one of each of the eight flavors they had, I’m sure that having a couple more people show up and ask for all eight was a real surprise.

Note: I will have to use that when I approach the stores when and if I decide to formalize the business: I can move markets. For fifteen minutes or so. I also have customers in North America, New Zealand, The Philippines, Europe and India. If I were not lazy I’d have more. Maybe I’ll leave that last bit off.

Now I’m taking careful notes to avoid repeating the one serious mistake I’ve made. (My confidence is low.)

I’ve also continued to play with the accounting software. This is another post, but let’s just say for now I ran an experiment. Then I had to repeat it. Then I swore. Then I repeated it. Then it seemed to work.



Lots of the Same

Went to a knife show but ended up acquiring ink.

Today there was a knife show sponsored by the Japan Custom Knife Makers and the Japan Knife Guild. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but at these shows you never know.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, a lot of the makers were displaying similar kinds of knives. The main theme was small fixed blade knives that are popular among some knife geeks in the USA but are problematic here in Japan. In theory a fixed blade with a blade under six centimeters long is legal to carry. However, as soon as you pull it out and use it someone will complain.

After a couple sweeps of the tables my Canadian friend and I headed down for a beer and then, after he went home, I headed down to Maruzen where I tried to convince a woman to make me a leather pen case (she turned me down). Then I went across the street to Takashimaya to pick up a couple bottles of their bespoke ink and discovered they had eight different flavors.

I bought all of them as I’m pretty sure I can sell them. However, on the way to the register, the clerk pointed out three flavors by a different company. I didn’t buy them, but that gives me an excuse to go back.

The Missing Ink

Last Sunday I failed miserably, but not in the usual way.

The 18th Mitsukoshi World Fountain Pen Festival started this week after years of forgetting I finally remembered to call and try to schedule an appointment with the Sailor pens ink blender.

The call-in, drop-in time was 10:30 last Sunday and I had the number entered in my phone and right as it clicked 10:30 I pressed call. I got a busy signal.

Oddly, She Who Must Be Obeyed also helped by calling on our landline. After 20 minutes of attempts, all we got was a busy signal. I suspect this means that there was a line of people at the store  and they stole all the appointments. Because, let’s face it, if I didn’t get what I wanted it was because of theft. Something like that.

(Note: There were only about 40 appointments available over the two days.)

This won’t stop me from attending the pen festival, but it probably means I won’t buy anything. I will try to sneak into line at the Sailor booth to see if I can get a pen fixed. I’ll also play with as many pens as I can. Then I’ll run away before temptation sets in. Probably.


Don’t Use It or Lose It

There’s a point you reach with consumable items, especially those that can’t be replaced, when you suddenly realize you’ve used more than half and are approaching the end of the item’s days. At that point you face a dilemma: Do you use it up and then tell “things were so much better in those days” stories or do you hoard the last few bits, essentially rendering them useless but retaining the option to someday use them?

I’ve reached that point with one of my favorite fountain pen inks: Tomiya-Bungu’s Bakke (Fukinotou), which translates to something like “Butterbur Sprout”. Bakke (pronunced Bah-Kay) is a Sailor-made custom ink that was sold in the older-style “curvy” bottle, rather than the current “who sat on my bottle?” squat version.

The box, the bottle and a writing sample.

It’s a brown ink with some green mixed in. It’s more green as it goes on the paper, but dries to a nice brown. It was the first brown ink I tried and still one of the best looking.

Unfortunately, although Tomiya-Bungu still lists it on its site, it hasn’t been available for a couple years. Since the store no longer carries Sailor products, it’s unlikely it will ever be released again. This also makes me wish I’d purchased a bottle of each of the four flavors when they were available.

Today, as I inked up a pen with Bakke, I realized it was approaching the halfway point and thought about this dilemma. I was always the kid who thought stretching Halloween candy past more than a few days constituted a form of waste. (Quick Side Note: It’s best to eat the candy fast because if you spread it out over a few days you’ll develop a candy-eating habit rather than a quick upset stomach that makes you not want to eat candy again for year. Therefore eating the candy all at once counts as a weight loss program.)

This is starting to look dangerously low…

I have enough ink flavors on hand to stretch my last bit of Bakke out for quite a long time. I’ve also found a suitable replacement (more on that in a future post) so there isn’t as much need to use it.

If I don’t use it, though, I run the risk of watching it go bad. I also realize that not using it and using it up both end with the ink not being used. In the end I think I’d rather waste it by using it up than waste it by letting it sit.


Breaking the Log But Maybe Not the Habit

It was a good idea, I suspect, at the time, but now, I suspect, it’s not and have decided to stop.

Two years ago, in a fit of something-or-other (a technical term) I decided to keep daily log in which I tracked, at various points during the day, where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling. I drew pictures of key events as if I was looking over my own shoulder and also tracked the weather and, eventually, my meals by drawing pictures of them. It was an excuse to use up notebooks and ink and test pens.

The first year, I carried the log around with me which, quite frankly, is exactly the point of the log. Stopping to record what I was doing was fun, but it was a lot of dead weight. The second year I changed notebooks but left it at home, turning it into more of a diary.

The second year, I would fill out the morning weather and offer a summary of how I was feeling in the morning. When I got home after my day job I would summarize the day at that point and then record my lunch and the weather. Later, reasonably close to bed, I would summarize the evening and the day and, as I had in the first year, draw a few key events as if I was looking over my own shoulder.

After a couple weeks, I started adding color to the events and, a few days later, to the food and started keeping track of what I was wearing. Sort of.

The first color picture in the log.

A couple weeks later, I wore my Kansas State University sweatshirt and was still adding color to the events. Note: those are beans flying at my head, not bullets. Also, those are costume ogre horns, not my natural, undisguised appearance.

Although I kept up the daily habit of keeping up the log, I missed the immediacy of having it with me. I also felt as if my entire system had a lot of moving parts, even if one of those parts stayed on my desk. By the end of the year, the log felt more like the annoying paperwork in a job than a fun activity.

As such, I’ve started carrying a different kind of planner and, knowing me, will probably turn it into a portable mini-log. I did find it was interesting to see what I was wearing from day to day, especially on work days. A friend of mine used to plan out his entire wardrobe for the semester based on the theory that students change their opinion of you if they see you wearing the same outfit.

I’ll also probably keep track of the weather and maybe my wardrobe, but I’m more interested in recording what I accomplish during the day versus what I planned.

This will probably be ugly, though. Interesting, but ugly (more on all this in a future post).

Sports Day Without Sports

It was Sports Day today and we were scattered to the winds. I was home babysitting our youngest, who celebrated sports day and the new cool weather by catching a cold from our oldest.

Our oldest, “fully recovered” from her cold went to a concert somewhere in Tokyo (at least I think it was in Tokyo) with a group of her friends. She Who Must Be Obeyed went to work, even though today was a national holiday.

I used the day to do two important things: catch up on the TV show Bones and organize the variety hoard in the office. Bones has been a lot of fun to watch, most of the time, but is clearly past its prime and is on an obvious death march into it’s last season.

The variety horde, for its part, looks like something the Bones characters have to scrape body parts from. (Sort of.)

The organizing was required because the cool weather. Because it is little more than an uninsulated concrete box, the office is a giant condensation collector/mold factory during the winter.

Anything on the floor often ends up in a bad way. I also  have to move the last of the ink inventory before winter as the cold weather and long delivery times have been known to freeze and burst bottles.

Somewhere in there, I have to do my actual job, too.