So I was looking at a modular kit that was made in Japan, and inside of the box were some ink labels (I think CMYK). Here is a picture: Ink labels

I recognized three of the four kanji. The first being 墨 (black ink), third as 赤 (red), and the fourth as 黄 (yellow), but I cannot seem to recognize the second label. I have looked by radical and in the WWWJDIC dictonary by Jim Breen and could not find it. Could someone tell me what this is? I used the search terms "blue", "azure", and "cyan".

2 Answers 2


It's 藍 -- the character for indigo.

  • 藍色 seems to tend to blue rather than violet compared to indigo. Natural indigo seems to be what is indicated here.
    – nhahtdh
    Sep 12, 2016 at 8:01

I don't think this is actually Japanese. The normal terms for CYMK ink colours are シアン : イエロー : マゼンタ : クロ, whereas these appear to be the Chinese words for "Black, Blue, Red, Yellow". (I don't know much Chinese, but the first entry for 青い in a J-C dictionary is 藍.) If you look at the Chinese Wikipedia article https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8D%B0%E5%88%B7%E5%9B%9B%E5%88%86%E8%89%B2%E6%A8%A1%E5%BC%8F you will see that these do not match the standard Chinese terminology either. Something makes me think that these were generated in a country which does not speak either Japanese or Chinese, by asking someone who did not know anything about printing.

  • The kit said it was manufactured in Japan, and also this was purchased in about the early '70s, so that could possibly make a difference. Sep 11, 2016 at 21:12
  • 1
    I don't see any reasons for Japanese people to do not write 墨、藍、赤 and 黄 on ink labels, even considering that シアン 、 イエロー、 マゼンタ and クロ are common in the spoken language.
    – vdudouyt
    Sep 12, 2016 at 10:57
  • コトバンク・日本大百科全書『多色印刷』」によれば、「黒( 印刷では墨という。 ブラックblack)のほかに、たとえば赤を入れるような2色印刷や、さらに青を入れるような3色印刷も多色印刷であり、 (イエローyellow)、 (紅、マゼンタmagenta)、 (あい)(シアンcyan)の3色にを加えた、いわゆる原色版印刷も多色印刷である。」、また、このページ→「印刷インキの基礎知識」によれば、「この4色をカラー印刷の基準インキ(プロセスインキ)といい、ブラック、シアン、マゼンタ、イエローを印刷ではそれぞれ、スミ( )、アイ( )、アカ( )、キ( )と呼びます。」だそうですよ。
    – chocolate
    Sep 16, 2016 at 0:07
  • In that case I am completely wrong. Certainly writing 墨 for black seems reasonable; but using 藍色 (a deep, purplish blue) to refer to cyan (blue-green) does seem extremely odd. (But this terminology is often confused: my book does not agree with the other, but has confusion of its own, using 赤 for both red and magenta.) Sep 16, 2016 at 7:22

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