Got a couple questions yesterday about the Japanese refills for the Pentel Color Brush pens, and was reminded that for some reason I was inspired to take photographs of the last batch I mail ordered. They came while I was in the middle of a project and I needed something else that was in the box, so I grabbed the refills and dumped them on the charging station shelf in the kitchen.In the morning they were still there (of course, since I hadn’t bothered to put them away) and I was intrigued by the orange colors and the lettering, enough to take a few shots.In spite of the artsyness of the photographer messing around with large apertures and narrow depths of field while shooting in ambient light, these are plenty sharp enough to read the product numbers, and the Japanese lettering as well if you happen to understand it. XFR-ADs (in the pale yellow and orange packages) are the standard, sumi-like ink, while XFRP-As (in cream and red) are the pigment ink, which acts more like India and is super black and very “chunky”. I am just starting to experiment with the pigment, hence only two refills of that to the five of the standard ink in this batch.
Why buy Japanese refills one at a time when you can get the American ones in the English language package by the box from most art supply dealers, at a discount? Well, I am convinced that the Japanese refills have more ink in them– my guess would be between 10% and 25% more. Granted, they are slightly more expensive, so it probably comes out even in the end, but it’s always a pain when a pen runs out of ink, so let’s make sure it happens less often. Then there is the whole issue of quality control– recently I have had trouble getting the American refills to break open when they attach to the pen. About one time in two I have to break the seal manually with a small screwdriver before the ink will come down, which is a mess and a waste of time and you have to both find and clean a small screwdriver.
The Japanese refills used to be a hard to find treat you’d bring back from the bookstore at Mitsuwa whenever you were lucky enough to get to go there, or from another Japanese stationery shop or newsstand, but Jetpens.com has started carrying them regularly, so at least for now they can be a regular part of your cartooning supplies without any hassle at all. If you like brush pens, you really owe it to yourself to try one of the Pentels with an interesting brush shape, and some of the Japanese home market ink.