Iroshizuku Inks And Their Meanings, Part 2

Iroshizuku Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my Iroshizuku Ink review series. This time I will be looking at Shin-ryoku, Tsuki-yo, Yu-yake, Yama-budo, Ku-jaku, and Syo-ro.

For a brief of how I do my ink logging, have a look at my write-up here. It may help to understand some of the references I make and the terms I use.

Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku



Shin-ryoku (深緑) means “dark green”. I can’t find a direct reference to a part of the Japanese culture from the name of this ink, although I noticed that some online sources mention this as a “forest green”. I have also found out that a certain type of Japanese green tea is called “Sencha Shinryoku”. It may be related, or not.


Ink Characteristics

Looking at this green ink, it feels to me like a very solid, typical green colour. I would call it a primary green. I tend not to like greens very much, and this is a less interesting green to me. This ink is quite a saturated and wet ink, but some sheen can be observed while writing. It doesn’t do well with water resistance, but you can see it either ways – the yellow parts of the ink disappeared and only blue was left! So on one hand, the blue part of the ink is pretty water resistant, but on the other hand, your writing is definitely going to change colour if you splash water onto it. I imagine drawing a green tree with this ink, dropping the paper into water, and the tree turns blue. Anyway…


The sheen (shin? Lol) is not very visible here, but there is some. It manifests as a brown or golden-brown colour in areas where the ink is very saturated.

Single Drop Chromatography

Shin-ryoku is a lot of green, but there is also some obvious yellow at the edge of the watermark. There is also the hint of blue, but I think the single drop of water was not sufficient to separate the blue fully from the ink.

Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo


Tsuki-yo (月夜) has a very picturesque name, which translates to “moonlit night”, or some online sources say, “moonlight”. It is a dark blue, which I feel “represents “moonlit night” better. Moonlight would imply to me that it’s a bright, silvery colour. Clearly, this ink was designed with the night scene of Japan in mind.

Ink Characteristics

This is a blue-black ink, with a whisper of teal and grey. It’s an interesting colour. It shades well when writing with it, as compared to the other inks reviewed so far, and has a medium wetness. Water resistance isn’t great, but you can still see the blue mark clearly retained on the round sticker label, engulfed in a blue cloud.


Another thing I love about this ink is that it has a delightful sheen, which is also observable under low lighting. The sheen interestingly has a tinge of red to it.

Single Drop Chromatography

Tsuki-yo seems to separate into indiscernible blue and turquoise, and some I’m-not-sure-but-it-seems-like-it-might-be yellow on the edges.

Iroshizuku Yu-yake


Yu-yake (夕焼け) translates to “sunset”, another very picturesque-sounding ink. Pilot probably captured a particular shade of orange while designing this ink, as I saw mostly reds and pinks when I googled “sunset in Japan”. This orange is cheerful enough when saturated, but overall it is still a little muted, and reminds me more of mandarin oranges than sunsets.

Ink Characteristics

While it has good flow, it is just a little bit on the drier side. Water resistance is very bad, as there is no trace of the original spot, except for a bit of pale pink and yellow. It has excellent shading, as many orange inks do (I love orange inks because of that). No sheen observed.

Single Drop Chromatography

Just like the water resistance test has shown, this ink separates into a lot of yellow and some pale pink.

Iroshizuku Yama-budo


Yama-budo (山葡萄) translates to Crimson Glory Vine, or the Vitis Coignetiae, which is a plant native to more temperate regions of East Asia. It can be found in mountainous parts of Japan such as in the Hokkaido prefecture. It produces bunches of berries which are like grapes, and can be processed to make a bitter wine. The leaves turn crimson during the autumn season, which is really a sight to behold! I believe that Yama-budo has been designed after the colour of the juice, as the fruits themselves are a much darker and muted purple, while the ink is more of a magenta.

Ink Characteristics

Yama-budo is a saturated magenta, a mixture of purple and red with a very strong tinge of pink. It’s a very popular ink among fountain pen lovers somehow, and I believe it’s largely due to the very attractive colour. It exhibits some shading in broader nibs and is a moderately wet ink. Water resistance is not great: a lot of pink gets washed off, leaving a dull purple stain behind.


Yama-budo is another ink that shows quite a bit of shading, visible even under low light. The shading is gold-ish in colour.

Single Drop Chromatography

The ink contains a lot of dark pink and some dark purple.

Iroshizuku Ku-jaku


Ku-jaku (孔雀) means “peacock”, and this is an animal that is very symbolic in Japan. It is associated with the Goddess Kuan-yin, an emblem of love, compassion, and nurturing. The peacock is famous for having a brilliant plumage on its tail, made up of blues and greens. This ink seems to represent a mixture of the blues and greens of the peacock.

Ink Characteristics

Ku-jaku is a blue-green colour, I don’t know why it appears to be more teal (with more blue) on my photo. I couldn’t set the colour right without changing the white balance of the entire picture (or maybe I just don’t know how to), but on my actual swab, it contains a lot more green than blue. In any case, it’s a medium-wetness ink which is very saturated too, and shows a tiny bit of shading (but not obvious). Water resistance is so-so, with the green washing off with the water, leaving only blue in the spot.


Another ink with beautiful sheen, Ku-jaku has a strong hint of a reddish-brown sheen even under low light. It’s not very well-represented in the picture above (sigh, can never get a good representative of Ku-jaku, can I?), but trust me, it looks nice.

Single Drop Chromatography

Ku-jaku separates into blue, yellow, and green.

Iroshizuku Syo-ro


Syo-ro (松露) got me a little confused there. When I copied the Kanji characters into Google Translate, it gave me the translation of “Rhizopogon roseolus“, which is a type of root (better known as truffles) and a delicacy in Japan, where it is known as “shoro” and not “syo-ro”. However, most if not all of the online sources say that syo-ro is “dew of pine tree”. Beautiful as it sounds, I do think that we need some clarification here. For this review, I’ll just assume that it’s represents the “dew of pine tree”, as this ink is a dark green colour (truffles are brown).

Ink Characteristics

Once again, poorly represented in my photo above. This ink is very much green with a bit of teal (my photo shows that it’s completely turquoise instead). Not too wet, this ink further confuses us by showing more blue when it is still wet on paper, and dries with the blue sinking into the paper, leaving the green on top. Fascinating ink. I would say that the water resistance is pretty good, (with the greens being removed from the ink quickly), but the blue that remains also starts to spread out with the water too. That could potentially make your soaked writing illegible, but at least you can still see the original marks on the paper.


Some sheen observed which is not as obvious as Yama-budo or Ku-jaku, but it’s there alright. The sheen is dark, more like a brown. It is also observable under low light.

Single Drop Chromatography

Syo-ro separates into blue and gree, with some yellow at the sides.

This concludes my second part review of the 24 Iroshizuku inks. For the other parts, click below:

Iroshizuku Inks And Their Meanings, Part 1: Asa-gao, Kon-peki, Tsuyu-kusa, Ajisai, Momiji, Tsutsuji

Iroshizuku Inks And Their Meanings, Part 3: Fuyu-gaki, Kiri-same, Fuyu-syogun, Tsukushi, Yama-guri, and Kosumosu

Iroshizuku Inks And Their Meanings, Part 4: Murasaki-shikibu, Chiku-rin, Ina-ho, Ama-iro, Take-sumi, and Shin-kai

12 Responses

  1. Aki 24 June 2016 / 7:40 PM

    Immense pleasure reading this series of your posts. I’m a fountain pen (and ink) enthusiast myself, and Iroshizuku is my favorite range of inks out there. I love them all down to the very last color and drop. Thank you for these posts. Would love to read more!

  2. Kanayama 11 October 2015 / 9:06 PM

    You have done an excellent job with your descriptions and reviews here.
    It’s nice to see such thoroughly thought-out explanations. You have also done well exploring the cultural details behind each name.

    So it saddens me that I must let you down. 深緑 shin-ryoku is best described as “the color of forests in Japan” or forest green. Not pine forest green, but deciduous if you added really heavy rainfall and bamboo forest green.
    In Japan it is used to describe the deep green color and… that’s it.
    The word doesn’t really have a special significance.

    Sometimes the names of colors are just that, names of colors.

    • Maybelline T. 11 October 2015 / 9:08 PM

      Thank you for pointing that out, Kanayama-san. I am not familiar with Japanese culture and the language, so it is always great to have someone like you to point out where I did not describe correctly. Thanks for your valuable insights and feedback!

  3. y2bd 29 September 2015 / 1:38 PM

    Just a quick thing: “Shoro” and “Syoro” both represent the same thing. They’re both just different romanizations (english representations) of the same Kanji.

    • y2bd 29 September 2015 / 1:43 PM

      (Forgot to include this in above comment)

      Furthermore, the individual Kanji in Syo-ro abstractly represent “pine tree” and “dew” respectively, but that species of truffle when paired together. I’m assuming that the word is meant to be poetic in a way–perhaps these truffles are commonly found under pine trees in Asia.

      • Kanayama 11 October 2015 / 8:55 PM

        You’re right on the poetic part. Sho-ro also carries the meaning of “drop on the end of pine needles.” It is often added to poetry to give a sense of time to the verse.

        The truffles get the name because when found they look like drops under the pine trees.

  4. tentaclecat 24 September 2015 / 6:54 PM

    I just want to thank you for doing these posts! I live away from any stationery stores so I have to order ink online and to be honest, the Iroshizuku inks are just…overwhelming. Due to your posts, I am definitely getting a real feel for the inks and am narrowing down a list to buy. I know there’s a lot of work going into these posts: I just want you to know that they are VERY much appreciated!

    • Maybelline T. 24 September 2015 / 6:55 PM

      Aww thank you for your nice comment! I’m glad you found it really useful for you. Two more posts to come to complete the series!

I would love to hear your thoughts!