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About This Product

First, some history: During the Taisho period (1912-1926), Japan was peaceful, prosperous, and changing rapidly. An influx of new technologies and ideas transformed Japanese society in the early 20th century, and the Taisho period is particularly remembered for its exuberant embrace of Western philosophy and style. European thought in the late 19th century was focused on freedom and individuality, and those ideas reverberated through every element of Japanese life.

In the Taisho period, forward-looking young Japanese people began to wear nontraditional colors and cuts. Leading architects added unheard-of ornamentation to their plans. New styles of literature and drama were introduced, influenced by Western novels and plays. This movement in Japanese culture is called "Taisho Roman," a nod to the European romanticism that inspired it.

It was also during this period that many Japanese manufacturers were founded—with new processes, equipment, and materials made possible by foreign exchange. Teranishi, the manufacturer of this gorgeous fountain pen ink, is one of many Japanese firms with its roots in the Taisho Roman era. Fountain pens became popular in Japan during this time, and Western ink formulations were quickly in demand.

Teranishi's first product was a writing ink called "Guitar Ink," and I am sorry to tell you that the reason for this name is not known. Teranishi's corporate history notes that guitars were a popular instrument in the Philippines (a key export market for the young company), but there's no definite reason why Teranishi decided to associate its inks with guitars.

Both Teranishi and its Guitar Brand have endured for over a century, from the optimism of the Taisho period through the turmoil of war and the development of Japan as a major economic and cultural power. These inks, first introduced in 2021, offer a look back at a special moment in Japanese history, significant not only for this manufacturer but for the country as a whole. Each one is inspired by the fashions of Taisho Roman Japan, with stylish, showy colors that make a bold statement.

In our tests, we loved the handling, flow, and color of Taisho Roman inks. They worked just as we expected with a variety of nibs and brushes, and once applied, they surprised us with their dynamic look and feel. In heavy applications, there's a definite sheen on some colors (especially Lady Emerald and Melancholic Blue), and even with regular fountain pens, there are dramatic shading effects.

The color swatch you see in our images was painted here in St. Louis, using cold press watercolor paper. The colors are glossier and more likely to exhibit sheen on writing paper, which you can see in our writing sample images for each color.

Each 40 mL bottle comes in a sturdy, beautifully designed cardboard box inspired by the Taisho period. There's a card attached to each bottle with an empty space for your color swatch. And the cap is marked with Teranishi's original "Gold Star Guitar" brand, which for unknown reasons features a guitar-strumming queen.

Made in Japan.