Ink Showcase: Sailor Shikiori Rikyucha
When I first got into fountain pens and ink, I thought I would be drawn exclusively to bright, vibrant colors like blues, reds, and purples. As I get deeper into the hobby, though, I find myself increasingly enamored of more subdued hues like browns and greens. In some ways, Rikyucha is the perfect embodiment of that transformation.
Packaging & Bottle
Sailor’s Shikiori (“Four Seasons”) line of inks come in simple white paper boxes. The design of the box is clean with ample negative space. Aside from the Sailor logo and wordmark and minimal text, the only real adornment is an oval graphic with a pattern of arching lines that appears on the front of the box. The ink color is designated with two stamps that appear on the top and front of the box.
The bottle is a stubby rectangular affair that’s made of glass. The walls on the glass are relatively thick and taper inward, creating a small belly where the ink is suspended. It’s a simple, pleasing look. The bottle is also relatively hefty (around 90 grams when full), which lends to a premium feel. A sticker is applied to the front of the bottle, but note that the ink is only designated in Japanese characters, so you may want to think twice before tossing the box. The gold-colored cap is decagonal, and the facets allow for easy uncapping.
Finally, the mouth of the bottle is pretty sizable at around 20mm. I’ve not had any issues fitting any of my pens into this bottle, which is always a necessary condition of a good bottle design. Overall I find the bottle quite pleasing both to look at and to use, though I do wish that the name of the ink would appear on the bottle in English in addition to Japanese.
Color & Inspiration
To say that Rikyucha is an interesting color is an understatement. Among the inks in my collection, Rikyucha is one of the most unique. When first put down on paper, it takes on sort of a dark, mossy green appearance. However, the color quickly darkens and takes on more of a glossy brown hue, but the underlying green still shines through. It’s really quite amazing.
If you haven’t checked out the video above, I encourage you to do so, as words can only do so much justice. You’ll see that as I do my writing samples, the ink takes on an extremely dark green hue, almost bordering on black. But as the video progresses, you’ll see those same writing samples transition into a shiny brown. I think the transformation can best be seen when you compare the swab I do with my brush to the fully dried swatch on my Col-O-Ring. The difference is practically night and day, and should give you a really good illustration of Rikyucha’s color-shifting properties.
Rikyucha is more than just a pleasing color; it also performs quite admirably. On quality paper it has no issues with feathering or bleeding. Even on cheap office copy paper it generally performs well, but does tend to feather some, especially when using broader nibs. Show-through is also evident on cheaper paper, but it’s never so bad that I feel that I can’t use the reverse sides of paper.
I was somewhat surprised to find that Rikyucha does have a modest bit of water resistance. As demonstrated in the video, it holds up well to the spill test. What’s interesting is that it seems like only the top layer of the ink is washed away by water, leaving behind a trace of teal ink that usually still allows you to read the original writing.
Dry time for Rikyucha is middle of the road: around 20-25 seconds on most paper. While that may not be particularly impressive, at least you get to enjoy watching the color shift while you wait.
Finally, I’ve had no issues with cleaning Rikyucha out from any of my pens. It doesn’t stain, and I don’t have any qualms about using it in any of my more precious pens.
As of the time of this writing, a 20ml bottle of Rikyucha can be had for $15 via JetPens. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, that sounds a little steep,” you’re right. At $.75/ml, this ink is one of the most expensive inks in my collection on a per-ml basis. Ordinarily I would balk at that fact, but considering how much I like this ink, and considering there aren’t really any comparable alternatives (at least not that I’ve found), I’m not that agitated by the cost. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to say that this ink offers good value; I’m more inclined to say that it’s simply worth the cost of entry in my personal opinion.