New Inks! Kyo No Oto + Kyo Iro Inks from Japan
Introducing our newest inks: the Kyo No Oto and Kyo Iro lines from Japan! We received samples of these inks months ago, and it was a thrill to open the package up and see these beautiful boxes and bottles with new colours, testing them out with our team. Now, getting a few slightly bigger packages of these in the shop is no less exciting - counting the bottles, and swabbing out the inks. While it sometimes feels like a lot of work, I love that I get to see each new ink we carry up close and personal before making choices about which ones to add to my own personal collection. These inks are made in Kyoto, Japan by Kyoto Kusaki Kenkyusho and Takeda Jimuki, with many of the colours derived from traditional practices and dyes, or inspired from the history of the city. There are two lines, each with five inks, and slightly different packaging. The Kyo No Oto line (on the right side of the swabs) has: No. 1 Nurebairo (black) No. 2 Imayouiro (bright pink) No. 3 Kokeiro (green) No. 4 Yamabukiiro (golden yellow) No. 5 Aonibi (blue-black) The Kyo No Oto line is more traditional, and its colours are slightly more subdued than the often highly saturated "boutique" ink colours we see now from companies like Noodler's - although I do find the Imayouiro pink quite bright. These colours are a bit more vintage in nature, and according to some material given to us from the distributor, are colours that have been used for over a thousand years. I love that their inks are numbered, it gives it a bit of an apothecary and small batch feel to it, but of course it's easier to remember the colours by their Japanese names. The Kyo Iro line (on the right) has: Stone Road of Gion (grey-brown) Flaming Red of Fushimi (red) Soft Snow of Ohara (purplish blue) Cherry Blossom of Keage (dusty pink) Moonlight of Higashiyama (orange brown) The Kyo Iro line is based on inspiration from the city of Kyoto Japan, as you may be able to tell from the names of the inks. For example, the Gion district is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, but is also lined with cobblestone streets - and the Stone Road of Gion ink is sort of a grey brown colour with texture and variation and shading - I think it's my favourite from the line, although I'm surprised by how much I like the Cherry Blossoms of Keage dusty pink as well.
***Here are the Kyo No Oto inks: No. 1 Nurebairo (black) I had a hard time capturing the flavour of black in this one in the photographs - in the swab it looks a bit brownish, but it might be some hint of sheen reflecting off the sunlight. There's zero shading on this one, as with many blacks, but it's a very solid, rich, deep black in both the swabs and the writing. I normally shy away from blacks except for specific situations, but this ink surprised me with how wet yet tactile the flow was. It feels very good coming out of a pen, and I'm glad I chose to ink this one up when we got the shipment in (I passed on it when we first got our samples). No. 2 Imayouiro No. 3 Kokeiro (green) No.4 Yamabukiiro No surprise that this is another one of my favourites - warm yellows and browns some of my favourite inks. There's nothing that says renaissance woman like a letter on ivory paper with this golden yellow sort of ink. No.5 Aonibi And another favourite! The shading on this one is excellent, and I love the hue as well. Another wet ink with good flow. And the Kyo Iro inks... Stone Road of Gion (grey-brown) I love inks with a bit of character, some variation to it. This dusty brown is great one for letters or journals, and I love the vintage flair it gives to your writing. Flaming Red of Fushimi (red) Soft Snow of Ohara (purplish blue) Cherry Blossom of Keage (dusty pink) Moonlight of Higashiyama (brownish orange) I like this one as well, although I found it a little dry in the first pen I had it in - I'm going to give it another go in a wetter pen (no shortage of those in my collection) tbecause it's such a beautiful colour. An ink named after moonlight?? How can I resist. The names are a handful to say, but as our team and we have been trying them out and getting used to writing them in the shop, it's sort of a beautiful thing to have some Japanese words floating around (as terrible as our pronunciation may be!). They're available in our brick and mortar now, and online - the Kyo Iro line and the Kyo No Oto line. We're now carrying quite a few ink lines and shades of ink in the shop. I remember in our earliest days, we had Rohrer + Klingner, Sailor, J. Herbin and Noodler's, squished onto our two tiny shelves. We've come a long way, and picked up a few beautiful things along the journey. I think I have a soft spot for ink companies that craft a limited number of really stunning, quality inks: I don't know if it's because I'm trying to move towards having fewer pens inked up, but valuing and appreciating each tool I have, but in any case, I love that each of these colours has a story. My favourite inks from this line are probably the Aonibi, Stone Road of Gion, and to my surprise, the Nurebairo black. Possibly also the Cherry Blossom of Keage, although I'm not sure how often I'll find myself reaching for a pen filled with that ink.
***In any case, we've been keeping busy. Today and yesterday was catching up with online orders from the weekend, along with photographing the new inks and getting everything together. We found a slightly beaten up secretary's desk in the hallway of our building, and it's now at home in our shop. With Caleb, we've had weekend trips to the cottage, timbit soccer, visits to the park, a new balance bike. In between everything, we're enjoying our days of goldfish and no pants and watching the world go by in our courtyard while I try to squeeze in a few photos. We've got some big changes coming up, which we'll welcome as they come. At the very least, with the no pants, he can get a little sun on his legs and his tan lines don't look so intense.