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.

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    $\begingroup$ For me, the answer is neither yes nor no. It's yukk. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Dec 19 '20 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ @OscarLanzi painting the outside of a fish, washing it and eating it is probably way far from some of the atrocities one sees in the food industry. Specifically if done with appropriate ink, which is what I am trying to find out. $\endgroup$ – Gonçalo Peres 龚燿禄 Dec 19 '20 at 16:46

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.

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    $\begingroup$ I think one should not suggest anything edible in a chemistry forum especially if they are dyes. $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Dec 19 '20 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 Dec 19 '20 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. $\endgroup$ – Gonçalo Peres 龚燿禄 Dec 19 '20 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. $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Dec 19 '20 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ @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 Dec 19 '20 at 15:20

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