Just came across a specific type of art called Gyotaku where specific types of ink are used to paint over one side of a fish and then a paper (rice paper, shoji paper, ...) is placed on top in order to retrieve the fish impression. After the impression, the ink is removed with water.

As catching the fish just to print doesn't seem worthy, I am wondering if there there safe types of ink that let's one eat the fish afterwards? Will washing it fully remove the ink?

Is it safe to eat the fish if one uses acrylic paints?

What kind of inks should one avoid?


Here's a video of an artist painting a oni, washing the ink out and then eating it. It is not clear if the ink is absorbed by the fish before he eats it or not. He states that he uses water-based acrylic and that it is water soluble and washable.


1 Answer 1


I Googled "edible ink" and found this item, which is a set of edible ink-containing pens.

The keyword is "edible." I'd stay away from anything not specifically labeled "edible."

Finally, it is safe to eat fish adorned with ink specifically certified to be safe to eat.

Disclaimer: There might still be some issues with the fish, so keep your eye/nose on that.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think one should not suggest anything edible in a chemistry forum especially if they are dyes. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ @M.Farooq Well, there are many chemically synthesized dyes that are officially marked as edible, coded E1nn as food colourants. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddMinehardt I am not sure if that type of ink would not be suitable for gyotaku as it may not pass to the paper. I have added a video in the section Edit where one can see how does the Gyotaku process looks like and a comment on the type of ink the artist uses: water-based acrylic. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Poutnik, yes, everyone has been eating and drinking synthetic dyes in this century. No idea what good they have done to mankind by adding colors to food and drinks. $\endgroup$
    – AChem
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 15:15
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @M.Farooq While I agree with you about the questionable general purpose, they are here and some of them eventually useful for the OP purpose. Or, natural products may be used as well. But I would avoid acrylic paints. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Dec 19, 2020 at 15:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.