Renga is the second Maruzen ink I have purchased, the first being Maruzen Athena Sepia, my current favourite brown, and one of my favourite inks.  Maruzen is a large bookstore based in Tokyo, Japan.  They have a range of Sailor collaboration inks that have become very sought after in the past few years.

Renga is rather more unobtanium than Sepia, but can still be found on the likes of eBay, which is where I picked up mine.  Unlike Maruzen Athena Sepia, which comes in the round bottomed old-school bottles, Renga comes in the standard Sailor vase bottle.  I believe all the inks sold exclusively through the Nihombashi branch do.  Here is the box…


Here is the bottle…


Here is the cap…



Similar inks;

Montblanc, Red Chalk

Diamine, Ancient Copper

Kingdom Note, Marocheira Kaempferi

Nagasawa Kobe, Brick

According to Google translate, ‘Renga’ translates to brick, and this is indeed a brick red.  However in reviews I have seen it described either as ‘red’ or ‘brown’.

For a brick red ink it is remarkably well behaved.  I still have nightmares about my bottle of Diamine Ancient Copper (currently hiding in a cupboard downstairs), staining the section of my demonstrator KOP.  After all this time I still haven’t been able to shift it. I didn’t like the colour of Ancient Cooper when I got it, and I found it dry and unpleasant to use.  The only other Diamine inks I had used prior to that was Grape and Soft Mint, both very well flowing and well behaved inks.  Ancient Copper was a disappointment for me.

Thankfully, my ink collection needn’t be missing a Brick red as I now have Renga!

Although this kind of in between red and brown isn’t usually my cup of tea, I really like this ink.  Even looking at the page now, I feel like I don’t like the colour, but then I can’t stop reaching for the Sailor Pro Gear Slim I have it loaded up in since I bought it.

Here is a writing sample on Hobonichi TR paper…



…yes I know I wrote it as ‘Regna’ instead of ‘Renga’…

Here is a sample on Original Crowne Mill thick card…

IMG_4038 2

…yes I know I wrote it as ‘Regna’ instead of ‘Renga’ twice.

Here is Kingdom Note’s Marocheira Kaempferi (Japanese Spider Crab) on the same card;


As you can see, Spider Crab is much lighter, less saturated, and leans more to orange.

Here is a Renga swatch on a Col-O-Ring card…IMG_4181.jpg

On the card stock above, Renga has a closer resemblance to Nagasawa Kobe’s Brick;


I have noticed on Hobonichi TR paper, Renga has a kind of soft look to it, which is accentuated by its soft velvety texture, whereas on the card stock Renga has a much more Ancient Copper-y terracotta look to it.

Here is a comparison of Renga and Ancient Copper


Here is a swatch of Diamine Ancient Copper for comparison.


As you can see Ancient Copper is much redder and darker, whereas as Renga has a slight pinky/purple-y-ness to it.

Here is a swatch of Kingdom Note’s Spider Crab;




Renga has lovely shading properties, from a very dark red/black to a light chalky brick.  Speaking of chalky, I believe this ink has a famous doppelganger in Montblanc Leonardo ‘Red Chalk’.  I have never used that ink or seen a sample in person, by going by samples I’ve seen on the internet, it looks pretty similar.  It has a nice terracota look to it, without being too orange-y.  I have a sample of Kobe Brick, and it is quite similar to that, but whereas the Kobe leans more brown, this leans more red.

Does it flow…

As mentioned previously, this ink flows exceptionally well for an ink in this colour spectrum.  All the other inks I have used in this hue has been a major let down, which was why I hesitated before hitting the buy button in this.  I needn’t have worried.  Unlike Kingdom Notes Marocheira Kaempferi (Japanese Spider Crab), KN’s Nippon Nipponia or Diamine Ancient Copper (the only other bricks I have used), Renga behaves and flows beautifully.  No nib crud here.


Whilst Renga shades beautifully, it does not really sheen.  I normally expect monster sheening with Sailor inks, but I could detect only the merest hint of a green sheen on this one on Hobonichi paper.

Here is a Hobonichi ink blob…


And a thick card ink blob…looks much redder here…



Renga has medium saturation, and on Hobonichi paper in particular, it looks much lighter and has a soft, slightly pink/purple look to it.

Dry time

This ink dries incredibly fast.  Like warp speed.  I almost can’t believe how fast it dries actually.

Here is my handwritten review complete with makeshift kitchen towel chromatography…


You can see how I wrote shading; not much…yes was previously using Kobe Souraken Green Tea, so compared to THAT not much…Renga shades plenty.


If you are looking for a well behaved brick red with nice shading that is slightly different and somewhat unobtanium, (vase bottle doesn’t hurt either!), you may look no further than Maruzen’s Renga.