Brush Pen Review: Sailor Shikiori Brush Marker (Set of 20)

I saw this set of Sailor Shikiori Brush Marker (Set of 20) awhile ago and I finally broke down and bought a set. Brush pens are one of my weaknesses and Sailor inks are another. When you put the two together, well, it’s basically crack in pen form for me. I couldn’t resist.

Shikiori is Japanese for “seasons” or “four season” and the colors included in this set are the same colors as the colors as the inks in the Shikiori bottled inks: Irori, Sakura Mori, Yuki Akari, Kin Mokusei, Yodaki, Okuyama, Yozakura, Chu-Shu, Souten, Doyou, Yonaga, Tokiwa-Matsu, Waka-Uguisu, Rikyu-Cha, Shimayo, Fuji-Mujime, Miruai, Nioi-Sumire, Shigure, Yamadori.

It was a bit of a challenge to match the pen colors to the names listed on the back of the package since the only writing on the pen barrels, besides “Sailor Shikiori” and “Fine” and “Brush” was written in Japanese.

The dots of color on the caps, hint at the colors but do not always accurately represent the ink inside. I would recommend swatching the pens yourself and keeping scratch paper handy in case you need to verify which color is which or making labels for the pens in your own language.

The brush cap end of the pen include a small nub that acts as a roll stop for the pen. The brush cap end also posts on to the fine tip end with no issues but the fine tip cap does not seem to post very well. The raised LEGO-style stud at the end of the cap appears like it should fit into the end of the brush cap end but it feels very unstable when I tried — like wearing a floppy hat on a windy day — like any second it’s going to fly off and hit someone in the head.

The brush tip is a bullet-shaped, fiber/felt tip that’s fairly stiff but has some spring. The material of the tip will probably fray on toothier paper or under a heavier hand. Luckily, in doing additional research, I found that Pen Boutique is stocking Shikiori marker pens individually ($3.99 each).  If you do find yourself using one particular color more than others and need to replace just one or two, rather than having to buy a whole new set, you can buy replacements or if you would rather just try a couple of your favorite colors, this might be a good way to try out a few.

I’ve noticed several of the Japanese pen manufacturers are using this style of fine tip on their markers these days. I’m assuming its a type of nylon tip with a translucent white housing. Even with a loupe I can’t quite tell what sort of tip it has. The fine tip end writes comparably to a Sharpie pen or LePen putting it at about a 0.4-0.5mm tip.

Looking at the colors without comparing them to their fountain pen ink brethren, the color range is more sophisticated and mature. For the same reason I tend to prefer the color range of the LePen brand, the Shikiori markers also have a more muted, subtle palette. It’s been described elsewhere as being based on nature, the seasons, etc. and I can see some of that. Some of these softer colors do not work quite as well in the fine tip pens as they are too light to write with but might work for drawings, underlining or other purposes.

Since I am so familiar with the colors of the Sailor fountain pen inks, I wanted to compare the colors with their fountain pen inks and there was only one way to do this fast and efficiently: a video. The video below shows the inks with the brush pen equivalents, in the same lighting I do all my samples, on Col-o-ring paper together for the most efficient comparisons.

While I like the physical look of the pens and they perform fine as brush and fine tip markers, comparing them to the fountain pen inks in any way diminishes them in my esteem greatly. Sailor fountain pen inks, particularly THESE colors are some of the most important ink colors in my ink collection. I’ve told the story many times but Sailor Irori is THE INK I used to find the “perfect paper” for our Col-o-ring books. If Irori did not sheen, the paper did not make it into our next test bracket. I continue to Irori as my test ink for paper-to-sheen. It is not the sheeniest ink but it does sheen and if a paper can capture the sheen of Irori than its an exceptional paper. Yamadori is one of my favorite inks and for the brush pen version to be so faded a version of the fountain pen ink… let’s just say if Sailor had released a brush pen set and named it “Seasons of Japan” and given all the inks in the pens different names or numbers I would have given these pens a much more glowing review.

So, my biggest issue comes from my historical ties to the fountain pen inks. If you have no emotional ties to the fountain pen inks, go forth and buy these slightly overpriced Japanese brush pens. Should you ever cross over into the fountain pen inks, you may have a reverse reaction and think the fountain pen inks are too saturated and dark. Imagine the irony?

Tools:


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