Nihombashi Akane

Maruzen releases a special edition Athena ink every year, to coincide with the pen show they host at the Nihombashi branch. Numbers are limited and they often sell out within a couple of hours. What people might not know is, that every year, the previous years special edition inks also get re-released in small numbers, so if you do miss out this time, you can try your luck again next year, or if you’re impatient like me, try to buy one second hand. You might not realise this, but quite a few of my inks are second or even third hand.

*scroll to skip story 🤣*

Knowing both Chinese and Japanese is a huge advantage when your hobby involves hunting down rare/discontinued/limited things from Japan.

Geographically, Taiwan is quite a close neighbour of Japan, and Hong Kong is very close to Taiwan, so often these elusive inks will turn up in one of those places. Knowing the language helps, a lot! I was lucky enough to be awake at 2am and staring at my phone (as you do), when someone in Taiwan decided to put a bunch of Japanese inks up for sale.

I didn’t have the means to pay the seller because she only accepted bank transfer or a local Taiwanese PayPal type thing, but she was kind enough to put them on hold for me while my thick-skinned self reached out to one of the major ink fanatics in Taiwan the next day and asked him for help, as I’d previously bought something from him, I knew reimbursing him would not be an issue. He agreed to pay for everything first without a second’s hesitation, and has been my most “dangerous” fountain pen friend ever since. I love the fountain pen community!

*End story, cue eye candy*

I lied, here’s a bit more story, and this is something I’ve come up with myself so is not necessarily correct, so please don’t quote me:

As much as I love Sailor inks, I always find their reds a bit…samey. I don’t know if it is because that red is such a symbolic, sacred colour, that perhaps the ink blenders at Sailor feel it shouldn’t/needn’t be touched, or that their innate patriotism steer them toward this end result. Look at the following picture:

Maybe I’ve just been very “lucky” and managed to pick all the dupes. There are subtle differences but only a few standouts. Everytime I get a Sailor red I’m 90% certain it would be a Japan red. Now someone please set me straight, tell me my theory is completely wrong and unjustified, because I would love to know the real reason behind this (whether this is a thing or not).

Now onto the REAL ink I’m ongoing to show you. As usual, clockwise from top left: 52g Tomoe River, Midori, Graphilo, Paperholic:

See why this red is so highly regarded? Bonus points for spotting it on the page with all the swatches 😝

Now for the close-ups:

I needed this so much I bought a half used bottle:

Who’s looking forward to next March?

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