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Could this be my Kamisori Grail Razor?

Warning: slightly long post (feel free to skip to the pics below)

So, I have been living in Japan for some twenty odd years and
have been wet shaving with a SR for the past two years. My
attraction to SR shaving was sitting in a Japanese barber's chair
and getting a wonderful hot towel shave. I loved the feeling after
one of those shaves.

I have read all of Jim Rion's blog "Eastern Smooth" (twice) and admit to some
envy as Jim had a wonderful mentor to guide him in shaving and honing
razors, especially kamisori. Over the years, I had seen kamisori, mostly
Tosuke models with their blue handles, in barber shops and even in flea
markets. In any case, my preference was Jwest's because they seemed
easier to shave with and hone. In addition, I decided that if I bought a
kamisori, it would be an Iwasaki Tamahagane, which usually are prohibitively
expensive (at least for my budget).

I have befriended several Japanese barbers including two third-generation
barbers but these gentlemen had not used a SR, let alone a kamisori, since
they were apprentice barbers thirty years prior and they had sold their father's
razors and stones long ago. I asked if they could put some feelers out for an Iwasaki
Tamahagane kamisori at a reasonable price. I wanted an older one, a Shigeyoshi
or even a Kōsuke.

One barber from Kyoto who I have known for almost twenty years, took me
out to his mentor and cousin's barber shop/salon. It was a pleasant hour's
drive around Lake Biwa. When we arrived, the master showed me a display
case with about thirty Iwasaki kamisori. We danced around the topic of price
and I left with the impression that I could not afford what I desired. About six
months later, I contacted that barber but again he would not commit to a price.

A few weeks ago, my Kyoto barber contacted me. He had a contact in northern
Japan who might have what I was looking for. I sent this barber an email.
His response and the pictures he sent had my mouth watering. After some back and forth,
and a bank transfer, I bought the razor. It arrived yesterday. It is an Iwasaki Kōsuke.
If you know Iwasaki razors, you know that these were the originally tamahagane kamisori
from the Iwasaki foundry. The stamps and the numbers on my razor seem to confirm this.


The razor arrived with a new purple and white rubber grip in a pink plastic box. This seemed like
putting a Rembrandt in a neon frame but probably just reflects modern Japanese tastes. I
am considering a trip the Sanjo Seisakusho foundry to have Mizuochi-san take a
look at it. Eventually, I will get a paulownia box and have the handle re-wrapped in rattan.

Mission accomplished!

Here are my pics plus one from the seller showing the unwrapped handle with numbers:

Ura.jpeg


omote.jpeg


stamp.jpeg

no handle.jpeg
box1.jpeg
box2.jpeg
 
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That is something special. I envy you.

The purple grip is growing on me. There is something nice about treating it as a purely functional tool and eschewing decoration, even though the tool is made by a great master and is beautiful in itself. I imagine that modern grip is more functional than an old-style wrap and I like the idea that the previous owner didn’t consider this to be something that belonged in a display case.

You probably disagree strongly, but I thought somebody should attempt to make a case for the purple handle. 😉
 
Beautiful...... I might have chose rotan or something similar... but the purple works (I'll have to take the word of others on this since I'm color blind) .... and probably has better grip properties.
 
The purple grip is growing on me. There is something nice about treating it as a purely functional tool and eschewing decoration, even though the tool is made by a great master and is beautiful in itself. I imagine that modern grip is more functional than an old-style wrap and I like the idea that the previous owner didn’t consider this to be something that belonged in a display case.

You probably disagree strongly, but I thought somebody should attempt to make a case for the purple handle. 😉
With comments like these, I think the purple grip is growing on me too...:ouch1:
 
I would leave it as is, with the purple grip. I like it. In general I prefer plastic scales to natural materials. Plastic is much better suited to the wet conditions, natural materials react to the wet/dry cycles we put our razors through. In your case the rattan will absorb and retain moisture that may corrode the tang.

I recently acquired a set of four ivory scaled razors. About 130 years old, the razors, not me, I was terrified of damaging something irreplaceable. I already had a slight issue with warping on one of them. Fortunately I was able to get it straight again.
 
First shave impressions

While one can shave with a kamisori
anyway you want, I followed Jim Rion's
example and shaved in the traditional way.
In other words, I only used my right hand and
only shaved with the ura side (aka stamp side)
facing away from my beard. It kind of
makes sense that you want to see the
stamps when you are shaving. That said,
my impression is that kamisori were really
made for barber's use, not for doing a three-pass
shave by yourself.

For WTG, I was able to manage 90% of my face but
could not shave directly under my left sideburn.
For XTG I managed to shave across the entire portion
of my face above the jawline but below was risky and difficult.
For ATG, I did the entire face under the jawline as well as the
goatee and moustache area with ease. I realize that these are
basic beginner kamisori impressions.

As for the blade, it was advertised as shave-ready
and I only stropped it. It was indeed shave-ready and the
seller really knows how to hone. The edge was superb.
The purple and white striped rubber handle was really,
really good; a fantastic grip allowing me to manage some
tough angles with confidence. I will keep the razor as is,
though I may look for a different box.

Final verdict: All areas that I managed to shave were BBS.
Some spots that I could not reach for all three passes
were DFS. As my technique improves, I think I will appreciate
this razor more and more. In addition, I have reached out to
the seller for a lesson in honing. Perhaps, he has a few more
razors or stones that he is willing to sell.

I already posted this pic on "What straight did you use today?" but
I see no harm in posting it again.

First.kamisori.jpeg
 
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Very interesting. No little circle logo. As you know, I have a couple with those stamped numbers. I've concluded that the second number is the blade length. Does that seem right for yours? Is it a 28mm blade?
 
Looking at Fikira's extensive picture collection it seems the second number varies from 1 until 90's. I doubt it signifies the length of the razor.

 
Excellent observations. According to Fakira, the lack of the circle with three horizontal lines stamp indicates that the blade is a Kōsuke. That stamp is a cipher for “Sanjo” I believe. I had not deccoded the numbers but it makes sense. I will check later.
 
First shave impressions

While one can shave with a kamisori
anyway you want, I followed Jim Rion's
example and shaved in the traditional way.
In other words, I only used my right hand and
only shaved with the ura side (aka stamp side)
facing away from my beard. It kind of
makes sense that you want to see the
stamps when you are shaving. That said,
my impression is that kamisori were really
made for barber's use, not for doing a three-pass
shave by yourself.

For WTG, I was able to manage 90% of my face but
could not shave directly under my left sideburn.
For XTG I managed to shave across the entire portion
of my face above the jawline but below was risky and difficult.
For ATG, I did the entire face under the jawline as well as the
goatee and moustache area with ease. I realize that these are
basic beginner kamisori impressions.

As for the blade, it was advertised as shave-ready
and I only stropped it. It was indeed shave-ready and the
seller really knows how to hone. The edge was superb.
The purple and white striped rubber handle was really,
really good; a fantastic grip allowing me to manage some
tough angles with confidence. I will keep the razor as is,
though I may look for a different box.

Final verdict: All areas that I managed to shave were BBS.
Some spots that I could not reach for all three passes
were DFS. As my technique improves, I think I will appreciate
this razor more and more. In addition, I have reached out to
the seller for a lesson in honing. Perhaps, he has a few more
razors or stones that he is willing to sell.

I already posted this pic on "What straight did you use today?" but
I see no harm in posting it again.

View attachment 1455402
Awesome!

I have a brick Kiita that came out of a Japanese Barber shop, and it gives up superbly sharp and smooth edges…if he has any to sell, snag them!

Vr

Matt
 
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