fog: pilot iroshizuku yama-budo
Fog slowly descends outside, while the steam from spiced apple jam on the stove condenses on the windows. One by one, towers in the distance fade away. Finally, the low clouds envelop the ground. It feels like floating in the comfort of your very own home, where any sense of direction is lost. A dim, cold light filters through the clouds first, then the windows, barely illuminating the room. It is home, with its sweet smells and dim lights.
Picking up a pen after what feels like ages is hard. My hands have forgotten how to make the delicate figures of letters, the pressure and the feedback of a fountain pen. Honestly, I do not like that. My pens usually feel like they’re made for my hand, because I’m so used to them. When there’s no barrier between my thoughts and my thoughts on the page. The page, the ink, the pen are all extensions of me.
I started and scrapped maybe a dozen beginnings of a blog post about this ink over the past few weeks. Every single time I put the nib to the page, the magic broke. The excitement of opening a cap to reveal that ornate, old style Sailor nib and the few spots of Yama-budo would fizzle out. Then, I’d set it aside to write with one of my pencils once again. Maybe this post should’ve been a pencil post.
No. I spent weeks thinking about Yama-budo at the back of my head, it’s time I wrote it down.
It is hard to describe what I like in an ink. The biggest factor is the colour, though I expect it to behave reasonably well in most of my favourite pens. The colour has to be right. I am very particular about colour. For example, I love green, but just not any green. It has to be a certain type of green. While ordering an ink, I’ll spend hours poring over various reviews, comparing how it looks in photographs and try to decipher how it might look in real life. Not only that, but the packaging and the bottle must be nice too. Either visually appealing, or super functional; many times both. There are very few impulse purchases in my collection. That’s why it’s a collection of inks and not a hoard, I spent hours meticulously researching, buying and -now- organising them.
Well, of course Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo was different. It was more like an annoying mosquito than a research I wanted to do. I would be looking for other inks and it would show up. I had no interest in the colour, so after a (mental) swat or two, I would move on to another review or ink. It kept popping up, especially on Reddit. It seems like the community likes it a lot.
After resisting it for almost two years, I finally bought a small, 15 ml bottle in Paris. It was supposed to be a little memento from the trip, and perhaps something I’d display more than something I’d actually use. I had paid way too much for it too. A heavy, rectangular glass bottle that catches the light beautifully. Especially when the ink level is getting lower and the lighter colour of ink reflects around the corners. Pretty easy to fill from until it gets about halfway, then only converters and syringes would fit. I almost bent a nib trying to get to the bottom of the bottle.
In the end, it turned out that everyone else was right. It’s a beautiful colour and rather hard to fully capture in photographs. I used it so much that it was one of the two bottles of ink I actually finished. Which might not be a lot, though most of the writing was done with this Sailor Pro Gear Realo with a hard fine nib, so that it still a lot of writing. Granted, I did give some samples away… But that’s what ink is for: sharing! I’ll stop digging any deeper with this, as the harder I look, less of an achievement it seems to be.
I want to feel good about myself for a bit, and maybe get a pat in the back.
The ink itself is a bold magenta. Not quite pink and not quite purple, but somehow both. It’s quite saturated, with an elusive green-gold sheen that seems to show up in heavy swabs and broad nibs. Iroshizuku inks are mostly known for behaving well, and this is no exception. You know that if you like the colour, it’ll be a great ink. All of the ink line has colours that are hard to photograph and hard to describe. They are somehow much more interesting than the usual colours. Not only Yama-budo, but another one that turned out to be like that was Asa-gao. I never thought I’d like a well-saturated blue with red sheen. Somehow, the colours are really well balanced between muted and saturated, so much so that my prejudices about certain colours are shattered.
I especially like these types of well-saturated inks in very fine nibs. They remind me of the 0.3 gel pens that I would hunt in stationery stores to no avail. Easy to write with, and easy to read afterwards. That’s why this ink lends itself very well to my everyday writing. It makes boring days a little more fun and overcast days a little more colourful. I have plenty of both…
It also looks great with the more conservative Realo with its black and gold colours. The ink window becomes a bright ring of magenta. Everything about this pairing is making me happy. Even though the ink is great in other nibs/pens, it really shines in a fine nib.
Apparently “yama-budo” means crimson glory vine (vitis coignetiae) in Japanese. It’s a vine with large-ish leaves that turn red in autumn. Sometimes, they even make wine from the berries as well. To me, the colour doesn’t really bring wine or leafy colours, but very bold and bright flowers like geraniums.
I like this ink. Not love, but like so much that my first thought after finishing the small bottle was “yay, now I can get a large 50ml bottle!” It doesn’t help that I love those larger bottles even more. Just, not yet. I have many inks and it’s time that I spent some effort trying to finish more bottles.
Thank you for reading! Today, my photographs are a little nostalgic and taken with my phone camera instead of my regular camera as I still have no idea in which box it is. Also, look at the pretty dice set I got! It matches really nice with Yama-budo.