12 Days of Inkmas: Kyo-no-oto #7 Hisoku

On the seventh day of Inkmas I couldn’t resist featuring Kyo-no-oto #7 Hisoku ($28 for 40ml bottle). This smoky blue grey color is one of my favorite ink colors. When I first got into fountain pens, one of the first bottles of ink I bought was De Atramentis Pigeon Blue which is not too dissimilar in color and has remained one of my favorite ink colors though De Atramentis inks can be a little finicky to use as they are what I tend to describe as “watery” and others describe as wet. As a result, Pigeon Blue can often run a bit wild or make my lines look wider than I intended on certain papers or with certain pens.


Hisoku is the perfect remedy since Kyo-no-oto inks are known to be drier inks. I think of them as sometimes feeling a little sandy or gritty if I am using super smooth paper and a super smooth nib. After the ink dries, I can actually feel the ink standing up on the paper and it feels a little chalky. That’s not a bad thing or it doesn’t have to be. It means my spidery fine lines stay fine and legible and the ink performs better on crappy office paper. Not great, but better.

Hisuku also has shading and a lovely reddish, purple sheen. The sheen will be more noticeable on paper like Tomoe River than on Rhodia but it creates a nice edge on the letterforms with the wider nib.

Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine is probably the only other ink color I could find that was even close to Hisoku or Pigeon Blue. Organics Studio Nickel is lighter and starts to veer into the turquoise realm.

While I love Pigeon Blue and would never dissuade anyone from loving on a color based on service birds, Hisoku is going to be my next purchase as my Pigeon Blue is almost empty. Does Hisoku translate to “pigeon”?


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Probably more than you wanted to know, but I studied Japanese for several years and went down the rabbit hole of looking for “hisoku.” Apparently it means a secret or mysterious color associated with pottery from a specific region of China (very little of which seems to have made its way to Japan, which is why it took me a couple Google searches to find this answer): http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/eng/dictio/touji/seiji.html and https://www.thejournalshop.com/kyoto-ink-no-06-adzukiiro-fountain-pen-ink-limited-colour-7304#desc-sec

    Pigeons and doves are called “hato” or “bato” depending on whether or not they have a modifier in front of the name. So it doesn’t mean pigeon, but it is a really cool word nonetheless!

    1. Back then, like silk, technology to create ceramics are monopolised by the Chinese empire, it sold for gold from the Europeans.
      How to create those China porcelain blue is thus a trade secret.

      Could be why it’s a Secret Blue (sounds like a Waterman ink name)

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