Sanzen Tomoe River paper compared to the OG

Comparison between Sanzen and Tomoegawa Tomoe River paper

Friends, hoarders, creatures of habit, lend me your fears. I have come to compare Sanzen Tomoe River paper with the original Tomoe River, and the good news is – it’s a solid performer. You’ll find similarities between my thoughts and the Gentleman Stationer’s first impressions, and also a couple of differences. That’s because I am no gentleman. (Badum-tish.)

L: Sanzen Tomoe River R: OG Tomoe River

Compared to OG TR, Sanzen TR:
• Has more tooth
• Lets liquid soak through faster (but the sizing helps retain the liquid within the fibers, resulting in less show-through on the other side)
• Copes a little less valiantly with wet-in-wet techniques
• Resists ink lifting just a touch more

Show-through is much less on Sanzen TR
Redissolve test: ink sinks in faster for Sanzen (L) vs OG (R) – you can tell from how there are more obvious lines on the Mind swatch on the left

There are inks that seem to form harder, more obvious edges on Sanzen TR (especially those with many dye components). Others register more intensely.

Sailor Kitsune Biyori registers more intensely on Sanzen TR
Top to bottom: Viarco water-soluble pencil, Marabou art crayon (watersoluble, gel wax base), Derwent Inktense sticks.

What does “a little more tooth” mean in use? It means Sanzen TR paper feels like inkjet paper, or a smoother brown bag. A lighter touch definitely helps; my hand is already quite light, and I still feel the difference, but not to the extent that it intrudes. I’m sure it’s a feeling that will become familiar with time. For those of us who use OG TR for ink-extravagant doodles and washes, what can be more tricky is managing different layers of ink and dry times. Sanzen TR feels mushy after two layers. It’s not that obvious when dry, but if you’re used to taking your cues from the feel, where your brush or nib contacts the paper, then you need to adjust. Wait a little longer in between washes.

Sanzen Tomoe River on top, OG Tomoe River bottom. Note difference in absorption – this is same brush, similar stroke.
Regular flex, stub, italic with standard inks – different feel when writing, hardly any difference to the eye when dry

I would appreciate other eyes on one other observation I have, which is that certain dyes seem to be more intensely showing up on Sanzen and that leads to an overall slightly warmer tone.

All the Robert Oster hehe. Note Plumb Nut is slightly warmer.
Note warmer registration of inks on the left side (Sanzen).

It would be a lovely paper on its own were it not burdened with a brand name that comes with set expectations. If you like Cosmo Air Light but would prefer a slightly crisper, thinner version that resists feathering, then Sanzen TR could be your new favorite.

Top: Sanzen Tomoe River
Bottom: Cosmo Air Light

I could not resist trying out my inks du jour, Pilot Tsuwairo Black and Blue-Black, on both papers. For a little more consistency, I used the same SEF nib. Here, OG TR shines. Pigment ink is already a challenge for most kinds of paper. (Glares at Platinum Carbon Black, my forever ink.) OG TR preserves the expressiveness of stroke even with pigment inks, which is what I prefer. But for fans of blackest black, Sanzen TR pulls ahead.

Top: Sanzen
Bottom: OG

If you want to try Sanzen Tomoe River, along with other happy paper (Kinkakuden super white wheeeeee), Yamamoto Paper ships from Japan to most anywhere.