Inkmas: Day 2, Kyo-no-oto Urahairo 08 and Keshimurasaki 09

12 days of Inkmas

By Jessica Coles

Day 2 of the 12 Days of Inkmas!

Today I am showing not one, but two new inks on the market.  Urahairo 08 and Keshimurasaki 09 (each sell for $28.00 for 40mL) are new colors made for the TAG stationery store in Kyoto, Japan. This line of inks is a series produced with the intention of replicating dye colors traditionally used in Japan.

I first saw these inks in an online post using both Urahairo and Keshimurasaki together and I fell in love with both.  I (not very patiently) waited for them to come to the United States and found them at Vanness during a Black Friday sale.

Urahairo translates to something like “the pale color on the underside of leaves”.  (I don’t actually read, write or speak Japanese, so I am trusting others for this description.)

The name is perfect for this ink – it brings to mind the light, dusty green of sage leaves or the color on an aspen tree when the leaves are just beginning to grow.  Urahairo is a pale ink. With dusty or pastel-ish shades, it’s hard to know ahead of time if it will be dark enough to read using a nib size that is reasonable.  I can handle nibs up to a medium and sometimes a broad while still writing normally, but with anything larger, I can’t read anything I’ve written in my normal handwriting. I have used Urahairo with a fine and extra fine nib and have had no problem with legibility.

To give you a bit of an idea how Urahairo compares with other colors, I’ve laid it out with 4 other inks.  De Atramentis Fir (the same color used for De Atramentis Jane Austen) is very close in color and tone.

Now for the second ink, Keshimurasaki 09 (the numbers following the name indicate their position in the ink series). The packaging for all Kyo-no-oto inks is amazingly luxurious with letterpress print and thick paper that reminds me of heavy watercolor paper.

That helps to describe the ink colors as well. Both Urahairo and Keshimurasaki have the feeling of watercolors; undersaturated colors that darken significantly when more layers are added.  Don’t mistake that for how the ink performs when writing, however.  Kyo-no-oto inks are known for being dry.  Both 08 and 09 are dry inks (referring to the way the ink flows out of the pen). But neither ink is nearly as dry as their sibling, Hisoku.  I found both Urahairo and Keshimurasaki to do well in pens when I selected nibs that were slightly wider than I usually choose.

The color of Keshimurasaki is difficult to classify; it is somewhere between blue-black and purple grey. I knew that murasaki translated into purple.  Keshi means something around ruin or off or not. As with any language, though, translating the parts doesn’t really give the meaning of the word.  According to an Instagram post by @atsaichu, the color describes a vat of dye that was meant to be purple but was ruined by too much heat.  That’s quite a mouthful to put into one color! Off-purple may be the best short description.

Each time I thought of an ink that was close to 09’s color, I was surprised by how wrong I was. It was enough to make me suspect that the color changed every time I looked away. Rather than describe the color, here are the comparisons:

Although the price of the Kyo-no-oto inks is on the expensive side, I believe they are absolutely worth it. The colors are unique and beautiful on any paper. The pens I have filled with Urahairo and Keshimurasaki are in my daily carry pens and will stay that way for quite a while.

Here’s some of the splotches from playing with the inks and mixing a bit!



Disclaimer: All items used in the review were purchased by myself.  For more information, see our About page.

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