For more than a decade, Maruzen has held an annual pen fair to celebrate its role in introducing fountain pens to Japan. Each year is accompanied by a special edition ink, normally sold only at the event. Maruzen Athena Nihonbashi Akane (note that the label says Nihombashi, but I am following a transliteration standard that respects the “n” of ん, instead of “m” of the rendaku) was first released in 2012, never to be made again. Fortunately, Sailor and Maruzen decided to change their minds and began to offer them at the fair since the 8th edition. I got mine this year, 2020.
The ink comes in the now discontinued vase bottles, the only indication of ink name on the box, while the bottle itself is unadorned. If you are like me and discard your boxes, be sure to label the ink before you do so lest you forget which bottle is which.
The ink itself is a wonderful deep red colour, with a complexity in the shades of red that see, to hide many layers of colour, like Urushi. There is a distinct metallic greenish sheen to the ink, and shows up without failure even in finer nib points on Tomoe River.
The ink flows wet and well, typical of Sailor inks, despite its extreme sheen. I found the ink to glide along with the nib across the page, absolutely wonderful. I’ve also noticed that the sheen can exhibit a range of colours subtly, from the more distinctive green to a darker brownish colour.
There is shading exhibited on Tomoe River, although it is not a supershader. The type of shading from this ink is much more subtle, with a gradient fading into a deep dark red, rather than the distinct separation of colours that we see on supershaders.
Overall, this ink is pretty special. The deep red colour is alluring, while the sheening really makes the ink pop off the page. Many people on FPN consider this a grail worthy ink, and many more seek to purchase it at Maruzen’s event every year, often clearing out the stock within hours.