Penland Cafe is a fountain pen shop/ cafe based in Nagoya City, Japan.  They sell a wide range of fountain pens including Montblanc, Pelikan, Aurora, Waterman and Parker, in addition to their quirky inks.  You cannot buy directly from Penland Cafe unless visiting in person.  Instead if you are outside of Japan you must use a forwarding service such as White Rabbit Express, which is how I bought them.

I only heard about Penland Cafe and its famous inks very recently, whilst perusing the famous rare Sailor inks thread.  I had also seen pictures of their bottles pop up on Instagram and the like.  From what I have read on-line people seem to stumble across the place whilst on holiday, and end up buying a few inks as a souvenir.  Aside from a couple of quick swabs and a a few squiggled words, I haven’t heard much talk of these inks, let alone seen full reviews.

There are four inks in the Penland Cafe line up;

  1.  Utsurigi (sepia)
  2. Penland Green 
  3. Red Cliff
  4. Fountain Blue

I did think about buying all four in the set but the blue didn’t look that special to me plus I’m not really a blue ink person (though I still manage to have quite a few of them…).  I’m not sure why I didn’t purchase Red cliff, I think maybe it reminded me too much of Ancient Copper, which unfortunately managed to stain the section of my Sailor KOP Demo 😦

Instead I went for Utsurigi and Penland Green, here they are;


The ink I’ll be reviewing today is Pen-land Green.

The ink comes in the diamond-shaped bottle with a very psychedelic-looking black label on it.  Confusing for a green ink.  Even more confusing the “Sepia” Utsurigi comes with an orange label.  There is definitely a 70’s theme going on here with the design and fonts.  As you can see from above, the fountain- pen nib interpretation could be taken straight from a Beatles album.  There is no sticker on the cap and no label on the box.

Pen-land Green is described on Pen-land Cafe’s website as “a serene and deeply elegant green”.  Here is my attempt at an “elegant” writing sample with stub nib…


As you can see a very stony green with a lot of grey in it.  Sometimes it’s so dark it can look black, particularly when using a fine nib.  At other times it can look a lot like Utsurugi.  It’s only when you look very closely you can see the difference.

Here is a Pen-land Cafe Battenburg cake to help differentiate the two a little better…


Looking at the Battenburg above, Pen-land Green reminds me of one of my favourite inks, Kobe #34 Souraken Green Tea. Here is a slightly out of focus snippet for reference.  Much lighter.  Definitely edging toward the spinachy end of green.  This ink has a lot of shading too…


Here is a close up of the two Pen-land offerings with Pen & Message Quadrifoglio thrown in for good measure…


The same 3 greens compared on Original Crown Mill laid paper…


You see how dark this Pen-land Green ink is?  Thinking about it Sailor Do-you (which is a brown ink, by the way) might be a more valid comparison vs. green.

Full page Hobonichi swatches of Pen-land Green, Souraken Green Tea and Quadrifoglio

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Soooo dark.  Next to these two “green greens” especially.  As you can see there is some sheeny business going on, like a dark brown shimmery metal (goes off to Google to look up dark brown metals…).  In terms of shading it has some, as you can see from the Hobonichi sample below.  But not loads.  Nowhere near the sheen you get with Souraken Green Tea for example, which is a wicked shader.  Just noticed here it looks a bit Noodlers Burma Brown Road


Is it waterproof?  Actually, I think it is…

Penland Green water test 1.jpg

Droplets holding steady, and then…

Penland Green water test 2.jpg

Compare this to Quadrifoglio

Quadrifoglio water test 2.jpg

My attempt at coffee filter chromatography…I still haven’t learned how to read the results yet (lol!).  Pen-land Green on the left, Utsurigi on the right…

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Dry time below, Pen-land Green on the bottom, Utsurigi on the top…


In terms of flow it’s about 6/10 on Rhodia paper.  It feels a bit drier than Utsurigi, in both the Jinhao X250 and the Montblanc Karajan with stub nib I used it in.  Utsurigi is very smooth and nice to write with on Hobonichi TR paper.  Penland-Green is also nice on Hobonichi, just not as nice as Utsurigi.  In terms of behaviour, I feel Utsurugi is very safe, whereas Pen-land Green may dry up a bit, so I wouldn’t want to leave it in my Karajan for long.  I have no proof there is any reason to worry about this ink in my nicer pens- it may be completely fine.  I understand this is not a very scientific assessment.  I’ll leave it in the Jinhao for month and see if there are any issues.

Verdict:  Is it even green?

Depending on the paper you use it can look very saturated and  black, Do-you grey-brown or something else entirely.

I think if Iroshizuku made this ink they would sell it as a grey.

I’m sure there is another name for this curious Pen-land- in-between-green-grey-black-colour.  My ink vocabulary is very limited and maybe theirs is too which is why they called it Pen-land Green.  Also true of Utsurigi which is billed as “sepia” but is anything but.  Maybe thats why the labels are in confusing colours also, to add to the mystery…

If you hadn’t guessed by now, out of the two Pen-land inks I prefer Utsurigi.  As far as greens go, Kobe Souraken Green Tea is still my No.1.

I have to say I think Pen-land Cafe have been successful in creating “a serene and deeply elegant green”.  It is a green redolent of nature.  Not overly saturated, but not too weak either.  In broader nibs it’s chalky look gives it a heritage feel.  A mysterious ink for sure, but a welcome addition to my rare Sailor ink collection.