Ink Notes: Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun

Photo of the Imperial Black with current favorite ink for it
Click any photo for full size version

I bought my bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun (Light Cool Gray) rather grudgingly. Iroshizuku inks were suggested when I asked for ink suggestions for my upcoming pen reviews. I would have preferred a black ink for my Sailor pro gear review but it wasn’t available at the time so I went for gray. I went for the full bottle over a sample since much of the Iroshizuku buzz was about the bottles.

I always felt grays were just watered down blacks. Lucky for me I was forced into this gray. I’ve made a noticeable dent in the bottle which must mean I like the ink.

I found the ink lived up to the reputation of Iroshizuku inks. It is well behaved, has good flow with my thin nibs and is quick drying. It also has good water resistance. There’s a little shading, even with my thin nibs.

Drying time on Rhodia paper was about 5 seconds with my fine and extra fine nibs. Drying time varied more with my medium nibs, although mainly because some were wetter than others. My Conway Stewart medium, a wet nib, took over 10 seconds to dry while my Pilot Metropolitan was still about 5 seconds to dry. Drying was even quicker on Doane Paper.

Despite being quick drying, the ink is slow to evaporate off the nib, even a fine Sailor nib. It wrote immediately even after being uncapped for several minutes.

The reliability, quick dry time, water resistance and slow nib evaporation make this my current favorite as a note taking ink. Despite being a watered down black gray ink, I really like the way it looks on paper.

As an added bonus, this has been one of the easiest inks to clean from my pens, taking only a couple squirts from the bulb syringe.

The only negative is the price. At $0.56/ml this is a pricey ink. By comparison, Diamine ink is $0.16/ml.

Irosjizuku Fuyu-syogun ink bottle

Pens Used

Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black w/ fine nib (my review): I’ve run several converter fills of this ink through the pen. The only issue I had was when the last converter was near empty. The pen would skip on the first letter after laying flat overnight. Other than that the pen was well behaved with the ink.

Edison Huron Grande w/ extra fine nib: A recent acquisition so I’m still on my first fill. No hesitation or skipping so far.

Those are the pens that have gotten the most use so far. The Pilot Metropolitan and Conway Stewart Marlborough Vintage, both medium nibs, along with Lamy Safaris with medium and broad nibs have also gotten some use with the ink. Writing samples are in the gallery below. For the water resistance test the ink was left to dry overnight before having water spilled on it.

Click any photo for full size version

Additional Reading

Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun Handwritten Review (

This Just In: Pilot Vanishing Point and Nibs

Photo of Vanishing Point with two nibs

I managed to make it through October without a pen purchase, but couldn’t make it through November without buying a pen from my wish list. I ordered the Pilot Vanishing Point Gunmetal with Black Matte trim body and two specialty nibs. An 18k gold Waverly needlepoint (XXXF) nib and a 18k gold .6mm stub nib. I was expecting them to ship Saturday but when I checked the mailbox late Sunday afternoon there they were.

I kept going back and forth as to whether or not I liked the black matte trim on the Gunmetal pen or not. I liked it when first saw it but I would sometimes waver from that opinion. But I gave in and ordered it. Now that I’ve seen it up close I really like it.

I already have several VPs with the standard nibs and didn’t want another one so I decided to go with a specialty nib. I ended up getting two. This is only my third stub nib. I didn’t like the first which was a broad stub, loved the second which was a medium stub so decided for a third, also a medium stub. I haven’t used it enough to know for sure, but the first impression is positive.

Photo of the VP 0.6mm stub nib

I picked Diamine Ancient Copper as the first ink for the stub nib. The flow is great. I haven’t done a lot of writing yet, but I do believe I will really like this nib. This nib went into my Matte Black Vanishing Point.

Photo of the VP needlepoint nib

I used the last of my J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage for the needlepoint nib which went into the new gunmetal w/matte black Vanishing Point. I plan on using this nib primarily for annotations and margin notes and this ink isn’t the best choice for this use. I prefer an ink that stands out among the clutter. I only had a little of this ink left so it won’t last long, even in such a thin nib. So next up will be Waterman Purple or Red I think.

I’ve clearly have more Vanishing Points than I need. But I’m happy I added the Gunmetal/Matte Black and these two nibs to my accumulation.

SBE Stealth Shootout

Stephen Brown has another of his fountain pen shootout videos out on his YouTube channel. He puts one of my favorites, the Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black, up against the Monteverde Invincia Stylus.


I’ve managed to find reasons not to get the Invincia and then this comes out. He’s making it hard. He also has full reviews of both pens and you can find them on hos YouTube channel.

Must resist…

Review: Pilot Vanishing Point “Matte Black”

Picture of my Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black
Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black

I’ve had the Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black pen since late March and it’s been in my shirt pocket as a daily carry since then. I’m using a fine nib which is my preference for a every day writer.

Why I Bought It

It’s a Vanishing Point. It’s a deep black which makes it elegant in my book,

Where I Bought It

I purchased it from Richard Binder so the nib would be tested and adjusted (“binderized”) before delivery, ensuring a good writing experience out of the box.

How I Use It

Picture of the Pilot Vanishing Point Black Matte nib
Nib extended on the vanishing point

This pen demands black ink so that’s what I’ve given it. Vanishing Points have a notoriously small ink capacity and this one is no different. This advantage of this is the built in excuse to change inks frequently. But this pen is a daily writer so I wanted capacity, therefore ended up picking Pilot Black Ink cartridges as a standard ink for this pen. The 1 ml. cartridge capacity is larger than the available converters.

The cartridges are easy to store and they make refilling the pen in the office quick, easy, and safe. This has been a good combination, luckily I like the Pilot black ink.

This has become my daily “note taker”. I carry it from meeting to meeting and use it at my desk for quick notes. It’s also the pen most likely to be in my shirt pocket when I head out of the house. Other pens get used only if I want a different ink color or feel like a change of pens.

The Vanishing Point is the most practical pen I have so I always have at least one inked, and frequently more than one. Easy to use with one hand and no cap to worry about.

The Review

This review will be a little different than future reviews. The fountain pen geeks, Dan and Eric, did one of their “awesome reviews” of this pen. I can’t improve on their review and pretty much agree with it, so I’ll just add my own thoughts and comments.

I’m usually torn when it comes to custom packaging. It adds to the pen’s allure when it’s first unboxed.  But since it doesn’t make the pen a better writer I don’t like any cost it may add. The Matte Black’s “picture frame” packaging wins on both counts. It’s original but doesn’t seem like it was expensive to make.

I enjoy the experience of writing with this pen. The finish makes this pen more comfortable for me than the other Vanishing Points that I have. It’s not the same old metallic or acrylic feel. The size is right for me and I have no problem with the clip location.

The ability to swap nib units among Vanishing Points is a bonus, but I’ve stuck with the the “binderized” fine nib I received with the pen. The ability to swap the nib units is not one I’ve taken advantage,

The pen has been extremely durable. I don’t abuse the pen, but I don’t pamper it either. It’s rolled around my desk and my bag and it’s still scratch free and pristine. The nib is also durable. I had a tendency to fiddle with the pen and clicker. I broke that habit when I “clicked” on the extended nib rather than the clicker. The nib was unscathed, unlike my thumb. Although my thumb had recovered the next day. I didn’t actually draw blood.

Cleaning the Pen

I hate cleaning pens, so this is important to me. A complete cleaning of the Vanishing Point takes about 2 minutes and is a simple process. This is one more reason I like this pen.

Cleaning is simple. I remove the nib unit and remove the cartridge or converter. I rinse out the bottom barrel of the pen so any ink that splattered onto the trapdoor can be cleaned out. I give the nib unit a quick rinse under running water then I use a generic drugstore ear syringe to force water through the nib. The tapered syringe seals nicely against the nib unit allowing some nice pressure to force the water through the nib.. The syrings is relatively small so it takes a couple of flushes. Then I shake the nib unit into a paper towel and make sure no ink residue is on the paper towel. The Pilot ink flushes easily, some other inks take a couple more flushes but it’s never a pain.

I read about using car wax on the nub unit to prevent nib creep but the nib creep itself doesn’t bother me. The intent here being to prevent nib from getting on the trapdoor and fouling it. Flushing the pen this way has kept the trapdoor working fine in all my Vanishing Points so far.


Direct on view of the Pilot Vanishing Point with the nib extended
Direct view of the Vanishing Point

The Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black is a unique combination of convenience, quality and good looks. I don’t think any other pen in my accumulation combines all three of these traits so well.

The best endorsement I can give it is that it’s been inked and used consistently since I received it over 5 months ago. But in the interest of full disclosure – I’ll be giving the pen a couple weeks off so I can give another pen some use.

This Just In: Pilot Vanishing Point Charcoal Marble 2012 LE

Pilot Black Marble VP

The second pen to be waiting for me when I got home last night was the Pilot Vanishing Point Charcoal Marble Limited Edition. The box calls it “Black Marble” but everyone is calling it “Charcoal Marble”.

I added this pen to my accumulation because I’m a huge fan of Vanishing Points and black pens. Although this isn’t really a black pen, the color is unique. The Charcoal Marble was even more impressive live than in pictures. My only hesitation in getting this was that it’s my fifth Vanishing Point which is more than I realistically would ever ink up at once. But once I saw the pen all buyer’s remorse vanished.

Each pen is engraved with its number around the center band. Mine is 1659 of 2012.

The only official nib is medium but I wasn’t concerned about the nib matching the box and being “official” for a collection. Many sellers are allowing nib swaps. I did consider getting the medium nib since I don’t have one among the interchangeable nibs I already have. But based on the way I used the VPs I decided to stick with a fine nib, even though it would be my third, I ordered from Richard Binder so expect the “Binderized” Fine nib to be a smooth writer right out of the box.

Vanishing Points use a proprietary Pilot cartridge or converter. The VPs are the few pens I regularly use with cartridges, but I’ll be starting this pen off with Montblanc Racing Green in the converter. I’s been a long time I used the Racing Green ink even though it was a past favorite.

I’ll have a review and more pictures once I’ve had some time using the pen.