Following the blogs and Instagram accounts of pen enthusiasts based in Japan is a form of self-torture for me. They have everything we want but don’t have over here: a plethora of stores in seemingly every town where you can browse pens, ink, fine paper, etc. at your leisure. Each of these stores carries something special: an exclusive pen, fountain pen friendly stationery, and frequently, exclusive lines of ink.
Those of us stuck Stateside can only dream of having those options available to us. Most pen people who live outside of 3-4 major metropolitan areas must resort to online shopping and annual trips to pen shows. The horror. But drool in vain no more, because the good folks at Vanness Pen Shop in Little Rock, Arkansas have begun importing at least one line of ink made by Sailor for Bung Box, a small store in Hamamatsu, Japan. A couple weeks back, I picked up two bottles, the “4B” (which stands for Bung Box Blue Black), and the Sapphire Blue. Both are excellent inks, and 4B is hands down the best blue black ink I have ever used.
This is Sailor ink, so there’s nothing new here in terms of properties. It dries quickly, doesn’t smear, doesn’t feather on cheap paper, and is a good all-around low-maintenance ink that works well for daily writing. What’s so nice about this ink is the color. 4B has incredible depth, and leaves the reddish sheen on the page that certain Sailor inks are known for. I’ll let the handwritten review and a few photos speak for themselves.
Here’s the big drawback, however: this ink is expensive. At $35 per bottle, Bung Box is priced higher than Pelikan Edelstein and Pilot Iroshizuku. It sits at the same price point as Caran D’Ache, which to me is expensive for ink. Regular Sailor ink runs at $15-17 per bottle (after a recent price increase), and even the Limited Edition Sailor Kobe Ink (carried by eBay seller CoolJapan) is priced at $19.99. Unless you’re a Sailor ink nut like me, I’d try out some of the less expensive and more readily available Sailor colors first before splurging on the Bung Box. The Kobe Ink comes in a huge range of colors, and while I haven’t tried it, I suspect that some of those inks are very similar to the Bung Box offerings.
Given that it will take me forever to use up 50ml of ink, however, I’m happy with my purchase and I consider my $35 well spent. As I mentioned, Vanness carries the full range of Bung Box inks, in addition to other imported ink lines such as Akkerman and Callifolio that, to my knowledge, are not available anywhere else in the U.S.
Disclaimer: I purchased this ink with my own funds from Vanness, and was not compensated monetarily for this review in any way.