Japanese Kamisori Razors

July 27, 2020

As I tumble down the rat hole of sharpening-and-honingSharpening and Honing
Most cutting tools require sharpening. There are various methods and tools for sharpening. For very sharp tools like shavers, they often call it honing rather than sharpening. The most traditional method is to use [[Whetstones|whetstones]]. Whetstones have different grits or hardness/fineness levels and are used in progression from rough to smooth. You can also use files, leather strops, abrasive compounds embedded in cloth, wood or leather, the palm of your hand, cardboard, the bottom of a p...
, I stumbled into the rat hole that is Japanese kamisori razors. They are similar to the straight single edged razors in the West, but they only have one side beveled - similar to Japanese swords. Apparently the were introduced into Japan when monks brought razors to shave their heads. Shaving men's faces came with the Western influence of the Meiji Restoration. The Japanese kamisori or razor is made like a Japanese knife or sword. When low cost sharp razors came onto the market, kamisori mostly disappeared. Sharpening them takes a long time and a lot of expertise and they are expensive to make.

However, there is a kind of cult following in the West and people obsessively hone and shave with kamisori. Mizuka Googled in Japanese and there are still a few barbershops in Japan that use them, but they are mostly out of circulation. The Japanese website also noted that they are a "thing" among Western otaku. :-)

As I dig into sharpening and honing I end up in forums where people are talking about whetstones and the conversation inevitably leads you to the razor honing community.

I've never really needed lots of razors because I don't have a lot of facial hair, but I'm going to give a kamisori a try. Most kamisori on Esty or eBay are antiques (as are many Japanese whetstones) because they don't make or use them so much anymore. The good thing is that if you sharpen up an old kamisori, it should be as good as new. Luckily, stones also don't spoil with age, but they do become expensive.

[Here's a post about Japanese kamisori].