Inkspot Review: Sailor Jentle Bungbox Sumeragi Imperial Purple


A couple of years ago, a line of Sailor-made custom inks for a Japanese fountain pen retailer, Bung Box, became the buzzword on the lips of the ink cognoscenti in the fountain pen community. These inks, being made by Sailor, possessed many of the performance characteristics that make Sailor inks among the favorites of many pen people. They came in a wide array of beautiful color. Bung Box Sapphire, in particular, quickly became known as the heir apparent to the much beloved, yet discontinued, Parker Penman Sapphire. Plus, they came in these really cool, vase-shaped bottles that look great on a shelf!

As often happens when a product goes viral, Bung Box had a difficult time meeting the demand. This was exacerbated by the fact that, as time went on, the unique and beautiful bottles became more and more difficult to obtain, until at last, Bung Box had to switch to using Sailor’s production line bottles (which are among my least favorite).

These days, Bung Box inks are still quite popular and well-respected, although many are turned off by their high cost–a result of having to import the inks out of Japan. (Ink is heavy to ship!). In the U.S., only Vanness Pens retails the ink, but various pen communities will often do group buys to help spread around the cost of shipping and and import dues.

I picked up this bottle of Sailor Jentle Bung Box Sumeragi (Imperial Purple) at the 2015 DC Pen Show. At the time of the show, it had been announced that the old vase bottles had been discontinued, and only the traditional Sailor bottles would be used going forward. Whatever they had left in the vase bottles was all they were ever going to get. I didn’t care so much about the ink, but I wanted a couple examples of the bottles, because they are some of the most perfectly shaped bottles for filling a pen. By the time I reached their table, a lot of the colors were gone, so I grabbed what was left, and this purple was one of those.

I’m so glad I bought this one.


Sumeragi is a deep, rich blue-hued purple ink that is reminiscent of the deep indigo crushed velvet cloaks trimmed in white fur that you might see royalty wear. It is an intensely saturated ink, but despite that saturation, behaves beautiful in almost every application.


On Rhodia paper, the ink has essentially no bleed or feathering. It flows beautifully and smoothly, and feels perfectly lubricated. With this higher level of saturation, it is unsurprising that the dry times are a little longer than a less saturated ink. Still, Sumeragi is well within the range of normal for Rhodia paper. The ink, while not truly water resistant, did a better than average job on the liquid tests, including ammonio and bleach (one of which usually does the ink in.) Even in the soad tests, there remains enough behind to be legible.


One performance note: I often use a Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with a FA nib for my reviews as the “flex” pen. This is a fantastic nib, and a lot of fun to use, but Pilot’s feed on the pen is simply unable to keep up with the ink flow needed for the amount of line variation the nib is capable of producing. Sumeragi is pretty much the only ink I have ever used in that pen where the feed was able to keep up with the flex writing consistently. This is an ink that may do well in troublesome pens, if the Custom Heritage 912 is any indication.


On Tomoe River paper, the ink behaves just as nicely, although the cream-colored paper of my test actually pushed the color score from 9 to 10 for me. I love this ink on this paper. On Tomoe River, the ink does sheen with a green-gold sheen, but only in very, very wet pools. Sumeragi is so saturated, it’s hard to see the sheen through the dyes.

Sailor Jentle Bung Box Sumeragi (Imperial Purple) on Staples Copy Paper (70gsm)

Sailor Jentle Bung Box Sumeragi (Imperial Purple) on Staples Copy Paper (70gsm)

The ink even performed well on cheap copy paper, providing only minor feathering and bleed, with no bleed at all on the Fine and Medium nibs, and only a whisper of bleed even on the broad and 1.5mm stub nibs.

Sailor Jentle Bung Box Sumeragi (Imperial Purple) on Staples Copy Paper (70gsm)

Sailor Jentle Bung Box Sumeragi (Imperial Purple) on Staples Copy Paper (70gsm)

As I said at the beginning of this review, my purchase of this ink was mainly for the bottle, and mostly by accident. And what a happy accident it was. It is a lovely purple: rich, deep, saturated, and luxurious. And its Sailor pedigree means that it’s easy on pens, easy to clean, with a nice flow and nice lubrication. My first bottle of this ink may have been an accidental purchase, but my second bottle won’t be.

  • Denise Rogers

    That is a gorgeous purple! It does remind me quite a lot of R & K Cassia.

  • Julia van der Wyk

    I almost bought this color in SF last year but didn’t- I’ve been regretting that decision ever since!

    • Jennifer Reed Schonberger

      I’d really like to add this to my collection and I think your comment answers my question. Is this not readily available in the US, basically at all?

      I’m planning which ink to place in Aurora 88 fountain pen (Nebulosa) when I unpack it. Any ideas of a similar deep purple ink to try instead?

      • Julia van der Wyk carries it, and may have it in stock. It is a premium-priced ink, but still on my list, so I think I’ll have to go for it next time my budget allows.

      • Check with Vanness Pens. They stock Bungbox inks regularly. Imperial Purple may be out of stock at the moment, but they get shipments in regularly.

        • Jennifer Reed Schonberger

          I appreciate the guidance, score.

          I’m looking forward to your videos. You really know your stuff.

  • Lez Cartwright

    Hiya Matt… Thanks for another excellent review. Purple is one of my favourite colours, the cost of this ink will make the folks think twice maybe, hmm, what if you knocked it over aauugghh dizzasterrr. It has some great ‘Other’ qualities though and the bottles are really smart. This review like your others is very in depth and informative and I admire your passion and dedication to the hobby, for sharing your findings with us so an informed choice can be made, thanks brilliant. I like how you are candid and don’t cover your mistakes which is appealing and humorous. It makes me smile when I hear some one from the US say… ‘Pick up a broad, or ‘ Using a broad ‘, it comes from watching the old movies where the word’ Broad ‘ means something about women, culture differences can be amusing; in a chat room arrangement a few years ago I wrote in the text… I won’t be long guys,,, I’m just going outside for a fag…. I got several comments from the US friends and had to explain myself…quickly… Fags in the UK are cigarettes also smoking ‘Fags’ you out, exhausts you. Anyway, nothing to do with ink, sorry.
    The price IS a lot, getting suppliers will be hard to find but consider the cost of ink in an ink jet printer whaowww that is expensive for the tiny amount in that cartridge. Very subjective like everything you find in hobbies.
    Would you consider in your next Inklination to quickly explain how the chromatography paper works, I recall you said you’d bought some ‘Proper’ papers for doing it??? The Pen Habit site doesn’t seem to have a link or can you recommend a YouTube for it. It’s good to see how the ink is made up from different colours the manufacturer uses.
    I’m jealous how your Pilot 912FA works so well!!! I had to send mine back.. anyone else?
    So thank you again for your obsession and sharing. Yeraguddun.
    Best wishes Matt… and to everyone.


    • Well, techincally, it’s pick up abroad, not pick up a broad. 🙂 The term broad means the same thing here too.

      Also my 912 doesn’t work that well all the time. Just with this ink in particular.

      • Lez Cartwright

        Thanks…. Hmm my 912 is on route, I’m going to see if I can find a suitable ink for it to work better, I’ll use your list see if I have any in my collection and will pay attention to flow… Thanks again your reviews are very much appreciated.

  • 888007888

    How would you compare it to MB Lavender Purple?

    • Lavender purple is a lot lighter, and a lot more red than Imperial Purple.

  • Pingback: Link Love: Pen Shows & Crotchety Old Men | The Well-Appointed Desk()

  • Philip Henderson

    Hi Matt, thank you, again, for another great in-depth review. i recently purchased several bungbox (at the Atlanta Pen Show last weekend) inks that I will be experimenting with and your insights here will help me evaluate my current stock. Sadly no old vase-like bottles. Cheers, Phil