Inky fingers: ’twas a dark and stormy night…

One of the things I love about inks is the names. A good ink name is an opportunity not just to describe the colour in literal terms, but to use metaphor: to evoke a mood, to capture heritage, to describe a place or event, or to have a little fun. You immediately know what colour Diamine Meadow is — it’s not “bright green #3”, or an RGB code or Pantone reference.

To me, the Japanese brands do a wonderful job of this kind of metaphor, particularly when it comes to nature references. For instance, Pilot’s bright blue is called Ama-Iro — literally “drops of sky”. Isn’t that fabulous?

But today here in the UK is not a day for Ama-Iro. It’s gloomy, rainy, and nighttime still comes far too early. So I felt it was time for a themed ink roundup.

I gathered up five of my favourite inks that call on language about rain, storms and night-time.


I picked out Iroshizuku Kiri-Same (Misty Rain), Sailor Jentle Shigure (Rain Showers), Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo (Moonlight), Sailor Kobe Kano-Cho (Midnight), and Bungubox Ink of Witch (after all, “when shall we three meet again / in thunder, lightning, or in rain”). Luckily it’s no longer cold enough here that I felt the need to pull out Iro’s Fuyu-Syogun (Old Man Winter)!

As expected, all five inks were well-behaved on Tomoe River paper with my Herbin glass pen.


The three Sailor inks are wet, saturated, intense — with plenty of sheen in green, silver and gold. The Iros are more delicate, choosing shading over sheen. With a palette ranging from blue to grey to black, any one of these colours would be suitable for business or journalling. In fact, if you chose to use Midnight or Ink of Witch in a wet, fine nib, the casual observer would think that you’d used a straight black ink. Only you’ll know the truth!

What inks remind you of the night, with rain pattering against the windows, moonlight peeking through the clouds?

Writeups and photos below…

Iroshizuku Kiri-Same Misty Rain


This is a darker and warmer grey than my other grey Iro ink, Fuyu-Syogun. It’s dark enough to be usable (as long as you’re not using a dry fine nib, but that’s true of all grey inks), and has wonderful shading. An ink for rainy days.

Sailor Shigure Rain Showers


I’ll be honest, I’m not sure of the connection between rain showers and purple, aside from Prince. Shigure is not far off an ink like Diamine Imperial Purple — it’s a proper purple, but at the very dark end of the spectrum. Like Imperial Purple, it has sheen, in this case it seems to be gold. A lush, velvety ink.

Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo Moonlight


I’m always surprised by how pale Tsuki-Yo is. I expect it to be at the black end of blue-black, but it’s the deep, rich blue of the sky at dusk. Just like the sky, it shades beautifully.

Kobe Kano-Cho Midnight


This is more what I expected Tsuki-Yo to be: a blue so dark that at a glance it looks black. The blue only comes through on the lightest strokes — look at the top right of the hash mark in the photo. This is the rich, inky, impenetrable shade of night, filled with hidden depths. And the green sheen is unreal, when you catch it in the right light.

Bungubox The Ink of Witch


Ink of Witch is like a sister to Kano-Cho. Behind the blackness is a browny, purplish layer, making it feel sumptuous and rich. It sheens, but unusually; instead of very pronounced shading in particular areas of the letter, there seems to be a soft sheen over all the writing, in a silvery, golden tone; a little like the satin pencil-like reflectiveness you get from a micro-pigment black ink like Kiwa Guro. This is definitely an ink with some magic in it — an ink for recording nefarious deeds in dead of night.


13 thoughts on “Inky fingers: ’twas a dark and stormy night…

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    • Various places! Ebay, rakuten, amazon, or via some of the US pen shops when I go over there. It is a bit more expensive sometimes… I think I paid 50 quid for my Ink of Witch!


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  5. I never tried to buy on Rakuten. About the Bungubox in particular, I’ve never seen a shop in Europe retailing these. The “best” deal I’ve found was on Massdrop. I got two bottles for €80 shipping included. I think the average price is around €40. Did you ever get some Iroshizuku on Amazon ? Everything is going smoothly when buying ink botttkes on Amazon ? Thanks for your time. Love from France, Marjorie


  6. Cool seeing thoughts on ink and colour.
    Randomly came across the blog while searching some colour terms. I believe the ‘shigure’ name can mean ‘purple dusk’ [紫暮] as well as ‘drizzle’ [時雨] depending on the characters and pronunciation that can sound similar.


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