Ink Dips: Sailor Oku-Yama

Sailor Oku-Yama writing samples

I put Sailor Oku-Yama into a Kaweco AL-Sport in Grey with medium nib. One memory I have of Oku-Yama is that it’s saturated and on the harder-to-clean side, so a cartridge-converter pen seemed warranted. My Grey AL-Sport has a wet but narrow medium nib, and I like the pen color with a burgundy ink. Match made.

I wasn’t sure why I remembered not liking Oku-Yama. It’s a nice color, it shades and it sheens. It resists feathering even on poor paper. It has some water resistance, for those who like that. It’s a little slow to dry on Tomoe River paper, but not the worst.

Here’s a writing sample on Rhodia. Words and music by Bob Dylan.

Sailor Oku-Yama writing sample

And here’s a writing sample on Tomoe River.

Sailor Oku-Yama writing sample

When I wrote with Oku-Yama this time, the color reminded me of an ink that I really like, that I own, and that I am using right now, Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red.

I wrote out the same song lyric with both inks on Rhodia paper. Garnet Red is in a Pelikan with fine nib, Oku-Yama in the Kaweco  with medium nib.

Sailor Oku-Yama and Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red

Here are the two on Tomoe River paper.

Sailor Oku-Yama and Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red

There is a difference in hue, but these two inks really are similar looking. They behave similarly, too, with a similar amount of water resistance and the same good performance on poor paper. It’s kind of interesting — because I instantly liked the one, and initially resisted the other (Oku-Yama).

But there are differences when you write with them. Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red feels more conventional (not in a bad way), and Sailor Oku-Yama comes across as more complex, and slightly odder (not in a bad way either).

It’s the sheen. Here is a closeup of Oku-Yama on Tomoe River paper.

Sailor Oku-Yama sheen

Oku-Yama is a maroon or burgundy ink with green and gold sheen.

That’s unusual to see, for me, so I remember the inks I’ve used like that. One was redder: the very first iteration of J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite (the formula of which has long since been changed). Another is an ink I just bought in November that is more of a purple than a maroon, but it’s made by Sailor: Bung Box Sweet Potato Purple.

Bung Box Sweet Potato Purple isn’t as close in color to Oku-Yama as Garnet Red is. But it’s still Sweet Potato Purple that I thought of when I started using Oku-Yama. Oku-Yama feels like Sweet Potato Purple.

Here’s what I wrote about Sweet Potato Purple in November: “It’s divinely odd, and oddly divine. It’s a reddish purple, but it kind of looks burgundy, too, except it’s too purple for that. And it has greenish gold sheen, too.”

Well, Oku-Yama rests on that same border between reddish purple and burgundy or maroon, too, except Oku-Yama is on the burgundy side instead. And both are a little odd, but in a good way, with that green-gold sheen

Sailor Oku-Yama and Bung Box Sweet Potato Purple

I’ll confess that I personally prefer Sweet Potato Purple, because it’s so different, and I like having it as a special purpose ink (the Precious). And I prefer Garnet Red, because I use burgundy or maroon inks often, so more standard versions suit me (the Workhorse).

But Oku-Yama is great. It’s awesome. It’s universally available as part of Sailor’s regular Four Seasons line, which makes it cheaper than a hard-to-find Bung Box. Someone who really loves sheen, who wants that effect with every pen and every piece of writing, will get that in Oku-Yama. And it’s not a cookie-cutter color, with the unusual twist in that sheen.

Because I liked Oku-Yama, and I was struck by what I kept thinking was a resemblance to Sweet Potato Purple, I did paper towel chromatography of Oku-Yama, even though this is only an Ink Dip. So here you go: Oku-Yama’s paper towel chromatography.

Sailor Oku-Yama paper towel chromatography

Oku-Yama is indeed very complex. It’s an unorthodox mixture, I’d say. And we can see the source of the purplish cast, as well as the source of the sheen color. That bright hot pink, though, that is really a surprise, in such a sober ink.

I found my paper towel chromatography strips for the other two inks I’ve been comparing to Oku-Yama.  Here they all are together, from left to right Bung Box Sweet Potato Purple, Sailor Oku-Yama and Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red.

Sailor Oku-Yama paper towel chromatography

There is a lot to unpack there. The Bung Box and the Sailor do indeed have a similar formula, with just a few differences explaining the end results. Also, it’s interesting how different Oku-Yama’s dye mixture is from Garnet Red’s, when you consider how similar the inks are.  Finally, the ink designer at Sailor has some interesting dyes to work with. But I think he’s also something of an ink genius.

Sailor Oku-Yama is an awesome ink. This has been a much longer Ink Dip than I expected, or will expect in the future, but this ink deserves it.

5 thoughts on “Ink Dips: Sailor Oku-Yama

  1. I’ve not tried any GvFC inks (yet) but I do have this Oku yama loaded in a Pilot Decimo. Even with a typical Pilot fine nib it has a pleasing colour – not too bright that is – and is my current ‘correction pen ink’ of choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have Oku-yama and adore it. I have also tried Grenade, and love it. I also have a 30 ml bottle of Diamine-Syrah, but it is darker. (I love it too) I thank you for the comparisons. You did a marvelous job on the review. The only reason I haven’t tried Bung Box-Sweet Potato Purple is the price. The maroon/burgundy inks are high on my list of ink colors that I love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since you like Grenade, I’d stick with it. When it runs out, try Oku-Yama. 🙂

      If I were starting from scratch, I’d pick one of the KWZ Maroons, Garnet Red, or Oku-Yama if I wanted sheen. Or one of the host of Diamines, or Montblanc’s Shakespeare. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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