Tip: Synthetic Hair
Tip Length: 9 mm
Body Length: Capped-16.9 cm, Uncapped-15.8 cm, Posted-19.1 cm
Colors in Set: Green, Pale Orange, Peach Pink, Rose Red, Yellow Ocher (20 colors available)
Look & Feel
The term 'brush pens' is used for both pens with bristles (individual hairs), and those with a flexible, but solid tip. The Akashiya Sai has individual hairs, though I believed they were solid when I first looked at them.
I found the pen comfortable to hold, and while brush tips can be harder to control, they require almost no pressure for ink flow, so they virtually encourage you to swoop and loop and draw beautiful lines.
The cap is a translucent plastic and on a cluttered desk, it can be difficult to find, but not as difficult as a clear plastic would be. The wavy design helps keep it visible. I found the pens light and short enough that I just keep the caps posted.
The packaging is a textured plastic box with a snap lid. It's sturdy enough that it should last a while, though I found it a bit difficult to get the pens in and out.
As you work with the pens, you'll notice the hairs separate and get bushy, if you push down too much. When you are done, or if you need the point back, just wet the tip well and smooth the hairs from bottom to top. This should be done before you put the cap back on or hairs can be permanently bent.
This set is the 'Spring' set and they are labeled as traditional Japanese colors. They seem more tropical than spring-like to me.
I used a variety of paper--smooth notebook paper, textured paper, scrapbook paper, watercolor paper and bristol vellum. There was no significant show-through or bleed-through with any of them. I had a little pilling (bits of paper tearing off) on the notebook and scrapbook paper in areas that I wet thoroughly, but that is to be expected.
The longer a brush tip is, the larger the writing will be and the characters from the Sai pens are fairly large. With practice, you have more control, and can reduce the size. You can get some lovely flourishes and a variety of line thicknesses.
I haven't practiced as much as I with this kind of writing, and I was exploring the possibilities, so this is not a good example of the beautiful penmanship you can achieve. The Pale Orange was so pale, that I had to push down a bit to get it to show. You would definitely want to choose darker colors if you intend to write with these pens.
For my first drawing, I just used the color straight from the pen, with no added water. This was a textured paper, and I did find that if you set certain colors next to each other, they pop more. Color theory 101, in living color.
The color went on smoothly. There was some streaking, that blended out with added layers of color.
My second example is done on Nature Walk scrapbook paper.
Again, I used color straight from the pen with no added water.
The streaking was more difficult to blend away, but since the background already had variation in color, it wasn't a problem.
After doing the first two samples, it seemed to me that these pens would be great for coloring in stamped images, so I decided to give that a try. I stamped 'Row of Cats' onto a watercolor ATC, and this time I added water to blend. The colors moved nicely, were easy to control and kept their intensity even with heavy washes.
Then I stamped 'Whimsical House' onto a smooth Bristol Vellum ATC, adding water to the background and using pure color on the house. While the streaks did not blend out as well, overall the colors were brightest on this paper than with any others.
The Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens have bristles, which are a little harder to control than those with solid flexible tips. On the other hand, you can get more line variations and flourishes.
The pens were comfortable in my hand, and ink flow was good.
I'm not too fond of the colors in this set, but that's personal preference. I like the pens well enough that I'll buy a few more colors to see if it is the range of colors or just the set that doesn't suit.
Disclaimer: I bought these pens from Jetpens because I wanted to try them out. Jetpens did not ask me to review them or even know I intended to do so. I've linked to their site because I like their service, their prices are competitive, they have items that are hard to find elsewhere in the U.S., they have fast delivery and free shipping for purchases over $25. They are one of my go-to stores. Your mileage may vary, and I always recommend comparing prices.