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Review: Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Review

Here's the review of the popular Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolour. Gansai refers to Japanese watercolour and Tambi means "aesthetic".

I bought this set after making a mistake. In an earlier video review on my Youtube channel, I had referred to my Kissho Gansai set as a Kuretake set. That's wrong of course. These are two different brands but their Gansai products are quite similar. Anyway, Kuretake is the more well known brand.

So now I have both the Kuretake and Kissho set and can compare them.

The Kuretake Gansai Tambi comes in different box sets. These are actually cardboard boxes and they are usually sold with full pans inside. The boxes come with 12, 24, 36 and 72 colours. Individual pans are sold separately but can be difficult to find.

On the left is the full pan. It's gigantic. The middle's the Gansai half pan and the right is the more common half pan. Note that the Gansai pans are not filled to the brim. So a half Gansai pan actually contains, probably, the same amount of paint as those common half pans. When you used up the Gansai pan, you can obviously fill it up to the brim with your tube paints. That's exactly what I'm going to do to save me the trouble of finding Gansai replacement pans.

The nice thing about these pans is large size. You can use huge brushes and be able pick up lots of paint at one go. This is convenient for mixing large amount of paint.

Behind the cardboard cover is a table with some empty boxes for you to create your colour swatches. For a 12 pan set like this, you can actually still identify the colours by looking at the pans. However when there are too many colours, it will be difficult to identify because the colours will look too similar and that's when you will find a colour swatch table really useful.

The pans are laid out nicely in the box. Beneath each pan you can see the colour code and the name of the colour in Japanese. The same colour number code refer to different colours for Kuretake and Kissho.

Both Kuretake and Kissho offer the cardboard box sets but the Kissho seems to be the only one that sells the plastic palette box set.

Both brands use the same size standards so you can fit Kuretake full pans into the Kissho box shown above.

The inclusion of white is probably no surprising as these are supposed to be opaque paints. So you can use white to create a more pastel look.

I'm not sure what kind of binder they use. When the pans are dry, they dry to a semi gloss and you can put your finger on it and you won't pick up any paints. There's this protective layer. Anyway, when you add water, they reactivate and can dissolve, although I find that you have to add more water to get the intensity because the pans look thirsty. On the box's packaging, it says that when dry, the pans may crack.

The swatches by themselves look vibrant. But when you mix the paints, they become more pastel-like and muted quickly.

Colour selection is good. There's two yellows, one earth, three reds, two blues, two greens and a black. The earth tone looks like Burnt Sienna. One of the blue is Ultramarine and the other looks like a Prussian Blue. When the yellow and reds, you can mix a good variety of orange and skin tone colours.

These swatches above are from the Kissho Gansai set. The distinguishing difference is for Kissho, there's a tendency for the colours to dry with a hard edge. Hence you have to be more careful when using Kissho especially if you desire a flat wash. You can create flat washes much easier with Kuretake.

Here are random colour swatches. Can you identify the colours from Kissho based on what I said about the hard edges? There are six from Kissho.

As you can see, you can easily achieve flat washes with Kuretake Gansai Tambi. The colours would have that pastel-like feel but overall colours are still quite vibrant. For this particular set, it works well for pen and ink sketches as you can still see the lines show through beneath.


In terms of quality, Kuretake is probably better because there's no tendency to produce those hard edges you see with the Kissho. If you want to be able to create flat washes easier, more predictability, then Kuretake might be a better choice. The main reason to go for Kissho probably would be for the plastic palette box which I really like. You can check out my Kissho Gansai review at

Overall, I would say Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolour is quite enjoyable to use. They are more opaque so you have to be more careful. Understanding your colours and mixtures well is more important with Kuretake, especially if you come from using American and European watercolours.

Another good thing about these Gansai watercolour is they are quite affordable.


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art Supplies (UK)

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