Four stops you won’t want to miss…
One of the latest “care packages” from Sawako-san (my good friend in Japan) included the 4-color “Keihan” series of inks from TAG 文具店 (www.takedajimuki.co.jp). Keihan Electric Railway is a private rail line dating back to the early 1900’s, and services the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Shiga. What I like about this ink series is that TAG tied into the existing Keihan station branding and worked it into the packaging and color references. Learning about the rail line and local inspirations made the review interesting to research, and I got to learn a little more about Kyoto in the process (with some assistance from Sawako-san who helped with some of the more confusing translations – ありがとう ございます).
TAG named each ink after 4 of the central stops on the Keihan main line in Kyoto, and included details like a reproduction of the Keihan subway signs including the station name and number (“KH-XX”) on the label, with previous and next stops wrapped around the sides. The inks are wetter than some of my other TAG inks (Kyo-Iro/Kyo-no-oto) and posed no issues in the pens they were used in (LAMY 1.9mm, TWSBI Broad, Visconti Medium, Nakaya Fine). The colors are:
KH-37 Shichijo Station (七条駅) – Described as a “light purple” (うすふじ) and inspired by the local Wisteria flowers that are quite common in the gardens and parks of Kyoto including the nearby Shosei-en Gardens. The ink is slightly darker than I initially thought but has some nice shading – allowing for lighter application in the fine nib and a richer violet in the broad. In the LAMY 1.9mm stub you can see both ends of the color as it transitions from light to dark. The station opened in 1913, and is in the Higashiyama ward of Kyoto along the banks of the Kamo River.
KH-38 Kiyomizu-Gojo Station (清水五条駅) – A light greyish-green “Celadon” or “Seiji” (青磁 せいじ) inspired by the Jade glaze color used on a lot of the local ceramics featured at the nearby Gojozaka Ceramic Festival. The glaze was introduced during the Song Dynasty (960-1270) by way of Korea and China. It has a slightly blue tint but is light in saturation and in use trends between grey-green and blue-green depending on how wet the ink is put down. Kiyomizu-Gojo opened in 1910 and like the others is located in the Higashiyama ward.
KH-39 Gion-Shijo Station (祇園四条駅) – A bright golden yellow color inspired by the “Turmeric” (うこん) plant. The ground roots of the Turmeric are often used in dyes and produce an orange-yellow color. TAG reference the wealth and energy of the Kyoto merchants during the Muromachi period (室町時代 – 1336 to 1573) as further influence for the color. It is a nice saturated yellow with hints of orange along the edges or in the wider nibs like the 1.9mm LAMY. The station also exits in the Higashiyama ward.
KH-40 Sanjo Station (三条駅) – A “pale scarlet” color (薄緋うすあけ) that has slight hints of orange and is quite traditional in local fabric dyeing. The ink is true to it’s name and starts red when wet, but leans slightly orange when applied with a fine nib. Sanjo station opened in 1915 and is the central hub between Osaka, Kyoto and Shiga. Sanjo connects the Main line to the Keihan Oto line and Tozai subway line.
This is a nice small set to collect, though it would be great to see more stops on the line released in the future. Bottles are 40ml and run about $15 (¥1620)/ea. You can still find some of the colors available from Office Japan on Rakuten.