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About This Product

We're happy to introduce Saiboku Aya, a unique line of artist colors handmade by Japanese artisans. They work like traditional sumi ink: put a small amount of water on an ink stone, then rub the stick in small, mindful circles in the water. The ink stick will gradually turn the water into concentrated ink, which you can use for painting, drawing, and calligraphy, typically with an ink or watercolor brush.

In the past, sumi ink has mainly been available in black only (in fact, sumi actually means "black ink.") But the same type of ink stick can be made with any color pigment. Saiboku Aya are a modern, artist-grade line of ink sticks in eighteen colors that can be mixed, layered, and diluted for a wide range of tones across the whole color spectrum.

The Saiboku Aya color range was selected under the supervision of Dr. Kei Iwaizumi, who teaches at Kyoto University of the Arts. These selections represent some of the most important traditional colors of Japan, but they are made with modern pigments so that they can be more permanent, affordable, and readily available.

Boku-Undo, the manufacturer of Saiboku Aya, employs skilled craftspeople who mix and mold these ink sticks by hand. You'll notice they vary slightly in size and bear the subtle marks of the hands that shaped them. They are molded with a beautiful pattern, an arrangement of four petals called hanabishi, a staple of Japanese folk art.

Use Saiboku Aya for colorful ink sketches, Sumi-E paintings, architecture drawing, calligraphic lettering, and anything else you can do with a brush or dip pen. The colors are intense and versatile, and can go from saturated and opaque to light and translucent depending on the specific color and the amount of water used for mixing.

Each Saiboku Aya stick measures around 66 x 34 mm (2.6" x 1.3"). They come in a paper box for safe storage. Please note the manufacturer's safety and storage instructions, available here and enclosed with each order.

Complete your kit! Find ink stones, compatible brushes and pens, studio accessories, and recommended paper options in our Saiboku Aya buyer's guide.