Ishida Bungu is a stationary store based in Hakodate, Hokkaido (Northern Japan).  I came to learn of their inks only very recently via discussions of Hakodate Twighlight ad Gagome on the pen forums.  You can buy Ishida Bunga inks at the White Rabbit Express service.  They do not ship outside of Japan.

Gagome is often cited as the pick of the Ishida Bungu ink offering.  There complete line up of inks goes as follows;

  1. Hakodate Twighlight (blue)
  2. Hakodate Curry (yellow/brown)
  3. School Brown (brown)
  4. Gagome (Brown Algae)
  5. Astringent Black? (Thats what Google translate said…)
  6. Hakodateyama (green)
  7. Yawatazaka Blue (blue)
  8. Hockey Rouge (red)

*Picture below taken from Ishida Bungu website.


Hakodate Curry is a curious ink and curious theme for an ink.  After some Googling I discover the ink was named after a famous dish served in the city’s most famous restaurant- namely Gotokuen restaurant built in 1879.  Apparently Hakodate curry, often referred to as “English curry” is traditionally served from a silver gravy dish.  I have noticed a definite colonial theme going on with these Ishida Bungu inks.  After further investigations I discover Hakodate curry is in fact a Beef curry.  Beef?  Yes I think this must be an “English curry” if it has beef in it.  For a Hindu this curry is looking worse and worse by the second!  Only the English would think of making a curry out of our most sacred and holy animal!  Interestingly the colour does not resemble the famous Hakodate curry  after which it is named, which is more red in colour- perhaps it has tomato in it?  I know this as there is a picture of the curry on the bottle’s label (see above).  Perhaps I will write down the recipe for Hakodate curry if I can find it in this ink and post it up next to a picture of the curry for comparison.  I notice they did not use the same label for the outer box. Perhaps they feared it would scare off innocent Japanese ink browsers in their stationary store!  I say this in jest of course.

*Please note Hakodate curry was not created by the English but the second owner of the 120- year old Gotoken restaurant, who trained at the Imperial Hotel.  The proper name for the curry is in fact Gotoken curry, and though it was not devised by the English, it was definitely “inspired” by them, so some of my humorous comments above about the beef ingredients still stand!

Here is the ink bottle and box.  Note the different labels, with the box featuring a picture of the famous Gotoken restaurant and the bottle featuring the curry itself.


As with all the Ishida Bungu inks, the cap has a bespoke label- here again denoting to the Gotoken restaurant and the date of its establishment.


It’s all about the shading…

Hakodate curry is a yellow-brown ink which shades clearly from yellow to brown with a dark brown outline.  It reminds a lot of BunguBox 88 and Shosaikan’s Shin Zan, both of which similarly shades from yellow to green with a strong green outline.  None of these inks have sheen as far as I’m aware- they are really all about the shading.  I am not a big fan of BunguBox 88 and much prefer the greener green of Kobe’s Souraken Green Tea– one of my all time favourite inks which I keep permanently loaded up in my Omas Paragon with BB stub.  Hakodate Curry also reminds me a bit of KWZ Honey and of Kingdom Note jellyfish Chrysaora Helvola, which is a very bight legible yellow/brown/honey colour with a nice silver sheen, and which I much prefer.  There is also a Kobe ink Taisanji yellow which is a bit similar, but there really aren’t that many colours out there in this colour range, and certainly not many that I have.  Perhaps theres a good reason for that. :/

I’m not sure what I think of this ink yet as I just got it, but initial impressions are I’m not blown away by it.  It’s not like Gagome which I found immediately awesome, or even Old School Brown which was immediately soothing.  But perhaps it will grow on me.  Like “English curry” will grow on the Japanese?  Hmmm…

Here is a full page writing sample.  I used my Omas Bologne in Burkina celluloid, as thought it would match.  The nib is 18ct gold Medium.  It is a fairly wet ink that takes a while to dry.  Just like Bungubox Green Tea 88 and Shosaikan Shin-zan.


Here is a close up of just the writing;


Here is a sample of Hakodate Curry on Hobonichi TR paper together with some comparisons.  Note the dark brown outline/sheen of Hakodate Curry where the ink pools around the edges…

Hakodate Curry.png


I thought it had more similarities to KWZ Honey below (note I “Kwizi” spelling” >_<…


These two- BunguBox 88 Green Tea and Shosaikan Shin-zan feel like a green version of Hakodate Curry, if that makes any sense…


Given the unusual colour range of Yellow-Brown that Hakodate Curry occupies I don’t have many similar inks for comparisons.  This Kingdom Note Jellyfish Chrysaora Helvola  is a much brighter version of it.  Perhaps my eyes will be able to discern colours better as I continue along my ink journey…not such great comparisons in retrospect :/