Sailor Shikiori (“four seasons”) refers originally to a line of bottled fountain pen inks featuring 20 seasonal colors. Shikiori is also used to describe subsets of multiple Sailor fountain pen lines with body colors that match those ink colors. There are also Sailor ballpoint pens with Shikiori body colors.
And finally, there’s a set of double-sided brush pens/markers called Sailor Shikiori, featuring those same 20 colors.
The Sailor Shikiori brush pens supposedly feature the exact same ink as in the bottled ink line, so they are dye-based, water-soluble inks.
As usual, I didn’t get the full set to try and stuck with the two colors I thought were closest to grey since my use of water-based ink pens and markers is more or less limited to adding midtones to ink sketches.
The Sailor Shikiori brush pens are slick looking, but I wish the pen color was more prominent when the pen is capped. The end of the larger cap is colored, as is the grip section of the brush end (a tiny slice of which is still visible when capped), but the small cap is warm grey on all the pens for some reason, and the fine tip has no color designation.
I wish the smaller grey cap were colored instead — it might make the pen more overwhelming visually, but the entire selling point here is the colors of the Sailor Shikiori inks, right?
For some reason, there’s also no written color indicator on the pens. There are no color codes, and the color name (in Japanese or English) isn’t printed anywhere. If you buy singles, some retailers will helpfully include a product sticker with the color name, but that won’t be the case if you buy the set.
The brush tip on the Sailor Shikiori (it feels weird to call this the name of the pen, since it’s really describing the color line…) is ~9 cm long and ~4 cm at the base. It’s relatively sturdy with just a little bit of flex on the tip. It feels like a more controlled version of the Tombow Dual Brush, which is nice!
The brush tip is still too unwieldy for any kind of detail work though, given its minimal flex. I also didn’t like it for Chinese or Japanese writing, as the brush really needs to be able to bend more for all the strokes to not blob together.
Meanwhile, the fine tip on the Shikiori is quite fine. There’s almost no flex, and it writes like an 0.5 mm tech pen. This makes it more usable and attractive to me. I almost never use the fine end of the Tombow Dual Brush because it’s just not very good or useful.
Unfortunately, both Chushu and Shimoyo are darker than I’d want in a midtone.
Chushu is similar in [color] value to Tombow ABT (Dual Brush)’s N45, though the hue is more purple and less neutral. Shimoyo is, of course, much bluer, but also fairly close in value. There are other Shikiori colors that are lighter in value, like Fuji-sugata (wisteria purple), but they’re not necessarily hues I want to shade in.
Given how dark the two pens I have are, I’m tempted to use them just as regular inking pens rather than midtone pens, but being water-based means they smear more readily with the moisture from my fingers, which is more frustrating when inking than when coloring.
However, while much-beloved in the fountain pen world, Sailor isn’t well-known or commonly available at most North American art retailers, and single markers from the Shikiori set are hard to find. Jetpens has them for $4/ea (pricey for a disposable pen), while this shop I’m unfamiliar with has them for $2.50/ea (closer to average). But the Shikiori being available online-only makes getting a replacement for your most-used marker a bit of a pain.
I don’t have any experience with the original Sailor Shikiori fountain pen inks, but despite claiming that they’re the same as the inks in the brush pens, direct comparisons show considerable differences. If the brush pens are supposed to be a more convenient way to use those specific inks, then I think it’s failed there, and as an art tool, only having 20 colors is very limiting.
The Sailor Shikiori pen performs well and feels like an upgraded version of the Tombow Dual Brush, but its small color selection is a huge handicap while its roots as a fountain pen ink don’t really show through. Unless you really like the specific Shikiori colors (or approximations thereof), I probably wouldn’t suggest these over another line of dual brushes, even if the quality is a bit better than most.