Iroshizuku Inks And Their Meanings, Part 3

Iroshizuku Part 3

This is the third instalment of my Iroshizuku ink review series, where I talk about Iroshizuku inks and their meanings, and also observe their characteristics. Here I will review Fuyu-gaki, Kiri-same, Fuyu-syogun, Tsukushi, Yama-guri, and Kosumosu.

For a brief on how I log my inks, read this article. It may be helpful for you to understand some of the terms and references that I make in my post below.

Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki


Fuyu-gaki (冬柿) translates to “winter persimmon”, which is an orange fruit that can be found worldwide, but mostly in China, Japan, and Korea. These fruits turn ripe and are ready for harvest in autumn, and most of the persimmons that are available at the end of the year are of the fuyugaki type, with softer and juicier flesh (as opposed to the jirogaki, which has a harder and crunchier flesh).

Ink Characteristics

As expected from the name, the ink is a bright orange colour, the colour of fresh, ripe persimmons. It’s a very attractive orange, especially when the first layer of ink is swabbed on the paper. Interestingly, when the second layer of ink was laid down (refer to the top half of the swab area), the colour turns into a duller orange when dry. It’s rather strange, because it seems like I have placed a different orange over the initial layer. When writing with this ink, I notice that this happens mainly when your pen goes over a previously-made stroke, but otherwise it isn’t too obvious. Shading is little to none, but the ink is very saturated. Water resistance is almost non-existent. The round label is just engulfed in an orange cloud, with no sign of the original marking.


Yes, there is sheen here, but interestingly the sheen is just a different shade of orange (more muted). It’s very clearly visible in low light conditions too.

Single Drop Chromatography

The separation of colours is really beautiful. I see yellow, pink, orange, coral… (although it shows mostly orange on the photo I took).

Iroshizuku Kiri-same


Kiri-same (霧雨) means “drizzle”, and this ink represents the colour of dark clouds when rain is approaching. I would say that this is a very apt colour for the name. No particular reference to Japanese culture that I can find here, but this is probably just an association with how the landscape in Japan would look during a grey drizzle.

Ink Characteristics

I have always been a little hesitant about using grey inks as I can never be sure if the colour would turn out clearly enough on paper. Fortunately this Kiri-same ink lays down quite a saturated grey on paper, so it’s very suitable for everyday writing if you’re tired of black and blue. This particular hue reminds me of an oyster grey with a hint of pink – it isn’t simply a diluted black. Water resistance is pretty good, but it seems like the pink of the ink would be washed off, leaving a very “pure” grey behind, quite solidly on the paper. No observable sheen in this ink.

Single Drop Chromatography

Kiri-same separates into pink indeed, and a lot of grey.

Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun


Fuyu-syogun (冬将軍) translates by Google funnily into “old man winter”, while online sources say that it means “rigor of winter”. The Kanji characters, if read as Mandarin Chinese, means “winter army general”. It’s another descriptive but confusing name. Too bad I don’t understand Japanese!

Ink Characteristics

While Kiri-same has some pink hints, Fuyu-syogun has a bit of blue or purple in the grey. It looks like a thinned version of a potentially blue-black ink. The colour is saturated enough from the swab, but seems like it is just slightly less saturated when using a dip pen to make strokes with it. If combined with the above Kiri-same ink, both greys could make quite a nice picture of storm clouds. Water resistance is surprisingly faring very well – I could almost call this a bulletproof ink. No sheen can be observed no matter how much I try to.

Single Drop Chromatography

Fuyu-syogun does indeed separate into some hints of light purple at the edge of the watermark. The rest is just grey.

Iroshizuku Tsukushi


Tsukushi (土筆) translates to “horsetail” which is a plant that the Japanese sometimes cook into a dish of the same name. It is also the name of an ancient province in Japan, now located in the Fukuoka prefecture. Interestingly, the Japanese also boil and dry rough horsetail plants to be used in fine polishing of wood, just like sandpaper.

Ink Characteristics

The horsetail plant is mostly green, but the extreme tips of the stems are brown, and that’s where the Tsukushi ink probably got it colour from. Tsukushi is an earthy brown ink, with a hint of red within it. The ink is not so saturated coming from the cotton swab, but it is pretty saturated when writing with a dip nib, quite like a dark brown. Shading is not evident in this ink. Water resistance is so-so: you see a bunch of other colours leaching out of the ink spot, leaving a dark grey behind on the paper.


Yes! There is sheen which is pretty much only visible under strong light, but that’s because the sheen is of a golden-brown colour. It camouflages with the original brown colour of the ink.

Single Drop Chromatography

Another colourful separation. I spotted dark brown in the middle, spreading out into a reddish brown, then light pink, and finally yellow on the outermost edge.

Iroshizuku Yama-guri


Yama-guri (山栗) refers to the wild chestnut in Japan, Castanea Crenata, which is native to Japan and Korea. The nuts produced are sweet and tasty, and I love eating roasted chestnuts! The brown of the chestnut’s shell, however, tends to look a little more reddish-brown than the Yama-guri ink, so I suppose the ink is designed in reference to the husk of the chestnut instead, which is of a more muted and earthier brown (don’t take my word for it).

Ink Characteristics

Even though I said Tsukushi was an earthy brown, Yama-guri is of an even earthier brown. Yama-guri is brown with some grey, so it is a slightly duller colour, and more serious-looking. Water resistance is similar to Tsukushi, where a spectrum of colours separated from the original ink spot, leaving a dark grey behind. I imagine it could make a mess of your page if it was soaked in water by accident.


Another ink that sheens golden-brown, but is less observable than Tsukushi.

Single Drop Chromatography

Yama-guri separates a little less interestingly as Tsukushi, but there is still some pink and yellow at the edges and what seems like dark grey in the centre.

Iroshizuku Kosumosu


Kosumosu (秋桜) translates to “cosmos”, and I initially thought it was referring to the universe, but later realised that it is talking about the cosmos flower. It is a bright pink flower that blooms in autumn and is very popular in Japan, being also known as the “Autumn Sakura”. The cosmos flower is very closely associated with autumn in Japan, just like how the sakura is associated with spring.

Ink Characteristics

I would call this a bubblegum pink, or a jellybean pink. It looks so incredibly sweet. This would definitely wow pink lovers out there. Unfortunately you’ll have to protect your books and papers from water if you use this ink, as the water resistance is pretty bad. I imagine you could use this as a highlighing ink if you use a cotton swab, as the swab lays the ink down quite thinly, but using a dip pen, the ink flows generously and gets quite saturated. No sheen in the ink.

Single Drop Chromatography

Kosumosu is really mostly pink, but it starts to turn a little yellowish-orange at the edge.

This is the end of part 3 of my Iroshizuku ink reviews. Read about the other parts here:

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

Iroshizuku Inks And Their Meanings, Part 2: Shin-ryoku, Tsuki-yo, Yu-yake, Yama-budo, Ku-jaku, and Syo-ro

10 Responses

  1. Gaia 8 November 2015 / 12:19 AM

    A lovely site and fascintating too

  2. Kanayama 11 October 2015 / 4:34 PM

    冬将軍(fuyushogun) is a commonly used phrase to express a strong winter storm that originates near Siberia in the sea of Japan and then sweeps south across the islands. It brings with it lots a major drop in temperature, strong wind, and lots of snow. The reading “winter general” is quite correct. The term originated from the Russian phrase(general frost) that describes the way the Russian winter has defeated so many of Russia’s enemies. Sometimes a little blue Shogun character is used as a symbol for a strong winter storm on weather reports.

    • Maybelline T. 11 October 2015 / 4:52 PM

      Hey that sounds very cool, I didn’t know that they use a Shogun character for winter storms. Sounds adorable. Thanks for clarifying, it’s good to know this!

  3. andreakirkby 2 October 2015 / 5:41 AM

    Now, I should fire up my Edison Collier Persimmon Swirl with Fuyu-Gaki, and I’d have Persimmon in a Persimmon!

    I’m really enjoying this series. Very unusual and full of interesting insights into Japanese culture as well as ink.

    • Maybelline T. 2 October 2015 / 6:49 AM

      Thanks Andrea… And lol that would be funny!

I would love to hear your thoughts!