We’re taking a look at—deep breath—NAGASAWA PenStyle-Den KobeINK物語 #8 Arima Amber! There was a time you had to buy this ink in Japan or get a courier service to have it mailed to you. But we live in an incredible time, don’t we?
Let’s talk a little about the brand. NAGASAWA PenStyle-Den is a fountain pen specialty store located in Kobe City, Japan. They’re perhaps best known for their frequent, exclusive collaborations with the manufacturer Sailor. Outside of Japan, one could argue that they’re best known for KobeINK物語. Like the name might suggest, these fountain pen inks are references to sights and locales in Kobe.
Nagasawa has been steadily releasing new inks, some of them outside of their Kobe-specific numbered line, so I think they’re at about 70 or so total. I picked up #8, Arima Amber. I was curious as to where the name comes from: as it turns out, it’s not a nudge towards fossilized sap! There’s a hot spring called Arima Onsen in Kobe, and one of the springs it’s known for is called kinsen, or “gold spring.” The water is colored golden-brown due to the minerals that have dissolved in the naturally hot water: Arima Amber is thus a reference to the surprising, opaque hue.
Because Kobe inks are manufactured by Sailor, they come in the ubiquitous Sailor bottle. It’s a squat, round thing: I don’t think it’s particularly interesting to look at, but it serves its purpose well. You get 50ml of ink, which is a good amount. I’ve certainly never finished a 50ml bottle. Kobe ink does not come with the little plastic cone that are ubiquitous in Sailor inks.
A side note: Sailor inks tend to have a smell to them, and Arima Amber is no different. When compared to Jentle inks, this one smells a bit more… pungent? It’s definitely not a bad odor, nor is it particularly noticeable (you have to hold the bottle to your nose and take a big sniff), but it’s there.
Looking at the ink: the scan
I wrote out this test on Midori MD paper, which works really well with fountain pen ink. It has a slightly yellowed tone to it however, so this ink will look slightly different if you use it on a bright white paper. I used a Jinhao X450 with a medium nib that was dipped into the ink.
Arima Amber had a surprising amount of water resistance in the test that I did, dripping water onto the page and then dabbing it off with a piece of paper towel. You’ll definitely lose a little ink, but the core is quite strong. Arima Amber does take quite a while to dry, however. I found it took more than 60 seconds to become dry to the touch using the Jinhao X450. In regular use, it took closer to 50 seconds to dry.
The last five lines of the paragraph are written using a Pelikan M205 Aquamarine with a broad nib. The M205 sports Pelikan’s almost unnecessarily wet flow, which I love. You can see that you still get plenty of shading.
Looking at the ink: on paper
When swatched, Arima Amber is orange. I’ve compared it here against other colors that I have in my collection. I could understand arguments that it’s a very, very diluted Noodler’s Antietam or Diamine Ancient Copper. As for the other inks, I don’t see them as close.
When I first swatched Arima Amber, I was kind of like meh. I’d seen pictures of it online, so I was expecting an ink with more of a honeyed or amber tone to it. I’m a big fan of this kind of color (as you can tell by my three “brown” inks). In use, however, I found that Arima Amber benefits quite a bit from its shading properties. The swatches look so plain in comparison.
I’ve used Sailor’s inks before, so I was expecting a well-behaved ink—and I got what I was hoping for! I haven’t run into an issue yet with hard starts, and I also do not get any nib creep. The pen writes as soon as I put the nib to paper.
I really like this color, and I’m glad I picked it up. Outside of East Asia, it’s a bit difficult to find Nagasawa’s inks, but there are a few retailers that do carry it. If you have an opportunity to pick up a bottle of Kobe ink, even if it isn’t Arima Amber, I highly recommend it; it’s basically like a major extension of the “original” Sailor line.
Conrad is a Californian fountain pen lover.