Pilot’s Iroshizuku is a line of high quality fountain pen inks. They are some of the best priced, best performing inks sold today, but with 24 inks in the line it’s hard to try them all.
Well, we bought all the inks and are going to review the full family below, with commentary on each of the 24 Pilot Iroshizuku fountain pen inks.
Iroshizuku Ink Background
The Iroshizuku line isn’t something most people — even lovers of the inks — have investigated deeply. It turns out that there are some interesting details here if you dig a bit.
Pilot notes that “Iroshizuku” is a word created by combining the Japanese word for coloring (iro) and dew or droplet (shizuku). So Iroshizuku is “colored dew,” or, most understandably to the English speaker “color droplets.” A fitting name for a line of liquid inks.
The individual inks each have names and then usually have explanations paired with them. For example Kon-peki, the most popular ink in the line, is almost always known as Cerulean Blue. The direct translation of the name would actually be “azure” but cerulean is generally what people would refer to the color as.
The 24 colors, in alphabetical order are: Ajisai, Ama-iro, Asa-gao, Chiku-rin, Fuyu-gaki, Fuyu-syogun, Ina-ho, Kiri-same, Kon-peki, Kosumosu, Ku-jaku, Momiji, Murasaki-shikibu, Shin-kai, Shin-ryoku, Syo-ro, Take-sumi, Tsuki-yo, Tsuyu-kusa, Tsukushi, Tsutsuji, Yama-budo, Yama-guri, and Yu-yake. We’ll explain more about each below.
Iroshizuku Ink Packaging
The Iroshizuku inks are most commonly sold in 50 ml glass vials. These are large, decorative bottles with an oblong shape and a nice appearance on one’s desk. They make excellent gifts.
Iroshizuku inks often appear in 15 ml glass bottles as well. This is what Pilot calls the “Mini” bottle, and it’s sold both as stand-alone bottles and in color sets. The most common set, and most people’s introduction to this ink, is made up of three 15 ml bottles of Kon-peki, Tsuki-yo, and Take-sumi. This set generally sells for about $15.
Here are the Pilot Iroshizuku inks in order of our most to least favorite. Below we have the ink name, followed by Pilot’s English color description, and finally a literal translation.
- Kon-peki (Cerulean) – Deep Azure
- Tsuki-yo (Deep Teal) – Moonlight
- Take-sumi (Gray Black)
- Shin-ryoku (Deep Green) – Forest Green
- Syo-ro – Pine Tree Dew
- Fuyu-syogun (Bluish Dark Gray) – Old Man Winter
- Kiri-same (Misty Dark Gray) – Autumn Shower
- Tsuyu-kusa (Deep Blue) – Asiatic Dayflower
- Asa-gao (Navy Blue) – Morning Glory
- Ama-iro – Sky Blue
- Yama-guri – Wild Chestnut
- Kosumosu (Pink) – Cosmos
- Chiku-rin – Bamboo Forest
- Tsutsuji – Azalea
- Yama-budo (Bordeaux) – Crimson Glory Vine or Wild Grapes
- Ku-jaku (Deep Turquoise)
- Momiji (Vermillion)
- Fuyu-gaki (Deep Orange) – Persimmon
- Murasaki-shikibu (Deep Lavender)
- Tsukushi (Brown)
- Shin-kai (Blue Gray) – Deep Sea
- Ajisai (Periwinkle) – Hydrangea
- Yu-yake (Sunset)
Pilot Iroshizuku Sets
Given the breadth of the Iroshizuku series, it’s not surprising that the ink is sold in sets. The sets are color-themed, so you can buy one set and find the blue you like the best, or the pink, red, or even brown. The sets are typically sold directly by Pilot in the 15 ml glass bottles, but Pilot’s distributors often sell sets of 2 ml sample vials.
15 ml Samplers
If you don’t want to commit to a single 50 ml bottle of ink, Pilot does sell sets of three 15 ml glass bottles.
- Tsuki-yo, Take-sumi, and Kon-peki (this is the most popular set)
- Ama-iro, Fuyu-gaki, and Syo-ro
- Asa-gao, Shin-kai, and Yama-budo
If you simply care about color organization, then here are our informal color groupings:
Iroshizuku General Characteristics
The Iroshizuku inks are, generally speaking, known to be reasonably priced, nicely colored, relatively practical, and very easy to use. These are dependable inks that are very user-friendly. Being a luxury ink, they have subtle color tones and excellent overall performance in almost all fountain pens.
The Iroshizuku colors range from a relatively standard charcoal black to a range of blues, to all sorts of more exotic pinks, oranges, and greens. The most popular inks in the series are the blacks and blues, but also purples, like Murasaki-shikibu and Yama-budo. The middle tones — light brown and bamboo green for example — are the sorts of natural tones that the series is designed to show off, but they are less practical and less popular than something like the charcoal black (Take-sumi) or blue-black (Shin-kai).