Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi

Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi (Bamboo Charcoal) is one of the three final Pilot Iroshizuku inks to complete the line. These inks, aside from looking great in the bottle, have typically be renown for smooth flow, not drying on the nib, pleasant colors, easy of cleaning, and fast dry-time.

I'm a big fan of the Iroshizuku line, even though it is not what I would consider a 'value' ink. It's expensive, but you do get what you pay for (in most people's eyes, some do not see the value and that's perfectly understandable). I had high hopes for this ink, to be perfectly honest. I love the performance of the Iroshizuku line, and I was really excited to finally have a black ink with the properties of the other inks. However, I know how easy it is to get my expectations too high with a long wait for an ink's release (Pelikan Edelstein anyone?). So knowing that I can easily run away with high hopes on a much-anticipated ink, I purposely lower my own expectations. That said, I can honestly say that my intentionally lowered expectations were exceeded.

You can see how and why I do my reviews in this format here. I did the review with a Lamy Al-Star with a medium steel nib, mainly because I enjoy it and I know it's a pen that you're likely familiar with, if you don't already have one.

Lamy Al-star, Ocean Blue. I love to use this pen for my ink reviews.

All of Take-Sumi's attributes are distinctively Iroshizuku: smooth flow, easy to clean, and stays wet on the nib. The only thing about it that let me down at all was the dry time. It wasn't bad, but just like a 'normal' ink. I probably had unrealistic hopes that this ink would dry in the 10-15 second range on Rhodia like most of the other Iroshizukus do, but this one was more like 30 seconds. It's not a deal breaker for me, but probably something worth noting for your sake.

I'm actually surprised (in a good way) how dark this ink is. I was a little worried when hearing the name was "bamboo charcoal", because I typically associate a charcoal color as being gray. But make no mistake, this a very black ink. See how it compares to even some of the darkest black inks. I won't say that it's one of the blackest inks, but it is darker than probably 2/3 of the black inks I've seen.

My bottom line assessment: this is about as good as I could have realistically hoped that a black Iroshizuku ink could be. If this were a perfect world, I would have wanted a faster dry time, but aside from that this ink has pretty much everything I could have hoped for. At $28 a bottle, Take-Sumi is not going to be the most popular black ink out there, but for those that are a fan of the Iroshizuku inks, I think you will be pleased. Does it live up to your expectations? I'd love to hear, just let me know in the comments below!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Brian, I really appreciate your thorough reviews of these new Iroshizuku colors. I've watched them all with great interest.

  2. Brian,
    I was, as you were, pleased by everything except the dry time. Still looking for that faster drying black (Not Bernanke Black - it spreads too much) and had high hopes for this as Iroshizuku inks are some of my favorite ones that I have used to date.

  3. I was just about to email to ask you a question about black inks when I saw this post. Specifically, I'm wondering which provides the "truest" or "blackest" black, at a reasonable price? $28 is definitely more than I would want to spend, but if you had selections at various price points for comparison, that would be awesome. Thanks!

  4. I was pleasantly surprised, it would have been sooo easy to get disappointed with this ink because of my high hopes, but I am actually quite pleased.

  5. Wonderful! I'm glad I could help : )

  6. Yeah, that's what I was really hoping for as well. What I'm finding as I test more and more inks though, is that you just can't have it all sometimes....super dark black, fast dry time, good flow, no feathering or spreading, easy to clean....it's just asking too much from modern chemistry. Something has to give, you can usually get everything you want but with one compromise, and this one is the dry time (and water resistance, if that's a factor for you). Dry time is usually the biggest compromise with the really dark and saturated colors.

  7. Aurora Black, Noodler's Black, Noodler's Borealis Black, Noodler's X-feather, Noodler's Heart of Darkness...these are some of the blackest inks I know.

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  9. Hi! I'd love further details on how Take-sumi compares with Aurora, as well as with Namiki black. Thanks!


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