Japanese straight razor
Whenever someone is looking for a Japanese straight razor they are typically looking for a Kamisori straight razor. This style of razor is typically does not fold like the traditional cut throat straight razors that we tend to see, unlike these cut-throats, a Japanese straight razor is typically a single piece of steel with a flat-headed blade on one end. In this post we’re going to discuss the history of the Japanese Straight Razor (primarily the Kamisori straight razor as that’s what most people are looking for) what they are, as well as some of the best Kamisori straight razors available. Please note however a Japanese straight razor could also mean a western style Japanese razor which is generally your typical folding straight razor only it’s made in Japan or one that is manufactured using Japanese steel.
So, if you’re looking for a straight razor that is the perfect personification of tradition and elegance, then you definitely ought to try a Japanese straight razor. When we say tradition, this straight razor takes from both Asian and Western roots however the Kamisori straight razor is certainly very Japanese inspired & are manufactured there.
What is a Japanese straight razor aka Kamisori razor?
The Kamisori razor, pronounced Ka-Me-So-Re & translated from Japanese simply means “razor” is a Japanese style straight razor usually consisting of a single continuous piece of steel with a flat-headed blade one one end.
The Kamisori razor can be traced back about 800 or so years back, this style of razor was initially introduced to the Japanese by Korean monks, it was the Japanese however that refined it, improved it & made it extremely popular in Asia & now somewhat worldwide. These Korean monks used these razors to shave their heads as part of their ongoing faith & passed the tradition onto Japanese monks. In Japan however as the Samurai era began to take hold Japanese warriors would typically use these style of razors to style their facial hair instead of shaving their heads. Once Japan opened up it’s borders to the rest of the world American & the famous Solingen razors from Germany found their way there, however the Kamisori has maintained its popularity among the Japanese.
This style of razor is typically ground on both sides of the blade, however the grind on each side is usually not the same. This unequal grind on each side helps provide users with an exceptionally close and clean cut angled shave especially if your face has areas with thicker & coarser hair, you can decide which side is the best option to cut through thicker hair & then flip it for thinner & less coarse hair. Some consider the fact that Japanese style razors have 2 grinds to be a massive advantage over the folding cut throat style razors purely for this fact that you are essentially getting two blades in one however some people will also argue that you’re only supposed to use one side. Unfortunately, we can’t really settle the argument as the originators of this style of razor are clearly no longer with us, so use it as you like.
Advantages of using a Japanese Straight Razor
The exceptional shave
Shaving is a form of art that can be practiced to perfection with the right tools. For an extraordinary shaving experience, you should definitely try using a Japanese straight razor. Once you perfect its use, you will be hooked for life! While the closeness of the shave by this straight raise is incomparable, it will take you some time and practice to get to the point of perfection. Experts using the Japanese straight razor recommend practicing during the evening after work when you have time and can concentrate on the task at hand. While it may be tough at first, with practice and patience the Japanese straight razor is easy to master.
Loyal users of Japanese straight razors believe that besides the product make and material employed, the Kamisori provides the user an experience that is beyond comprehension. The careful design and the historical background of the Japanese straight razor make it an exceptional candidate among its rivals. Most users comment on its meditative properties that help quiet the mind and calm the body; both of which are extremely important when mastering the Japanese straight razor. Other than that, there is the obvious masculine feel to using any straight razor.
Value for money
Compared to the money that an average man spends in a lifetime on buying modern disposable straight razors, a Japanese straight razor in the long term will cost you much less. A Japanese straight razor, only requires some focus, some shaving cream, a mirror & the occasional sharpening.
Japanese Straight Razors FAQ’s
Who Manufactures of a Japanese straight razors?
When you are looking for brands that make Japanese straight razors there are a number of options however we highly recommend you stick to Feather and Iwasaki. Both of these companies are known for their excellent craftsmanship and offer a lifetime guarantee of each piece they manufacturer.
What steel do Japanese straight razors use?
Typically, Japanese straight razors are made from Japanse Yasuki steel, Tamahagane steel & some are even made from Swedish steel which is a very common steel for most straight razors.
The best Japanese straight Razors
As mentioned before if you are looking for a Japanese straight razor there are two manufactures that we recommend, they are Feather & Iwasaki.
Feather straight razors
Feather was established in 1932, so has been going for quite some time, originally named the Japan Safety Razor Co their first product was the Seki safety, the company hasn’t looked back since. Based out of Osaka this famous brand was the first company to make replaceable blade-type razors & now manufactures a number of Japanese straight razors, lightweight razors, scissors & styling razors.
Feather continues to manufacture all of it’s products out of factories in Japan, with their head office based out of Osaka & a branch in Tokyo they have shunned cheaper overseas production & aim to keep management & production all within Japan.
Some of our favorite Feather straight razors
The Feather Artist Club SS is Feathers most popular razor & the company itself calls it the ‘Japanese straight razor’, the rounded shape of the tip of the razor and the moderate blade exposure typically give you a soft & smooth shave. The razor body & handles are made from high-grade materials using a silicone resin which is heat resistant up to 135 C/275 F & the blade is a rounded tip which helps disperse the pressure on the blade contacting the skin. The shape & weight of the razor are well balanced so if you have smaller hands you’ll have no issues when handling the SS razor.
Described as the ultimate “replaceable blade”once the blade becomes blunt replacing blades is a piece of cake, you simply pinch the razor head & the blade should pop out, cleaning the razor is also very easy & if required you can disinfect it by boiling it or by using some rubbing alcohol. The replacement blades are also very cheap & can typically be bought by the 20’s, a typical blade will last between 10-15 shaves so 20 blades will give you up to 300 shaves. The feather Artist Club SS Razor is truly a beautiful razor & comes in a range of colors including black, lime & wine which is basically pink, click here for more info on this razor.
Feather Artist Club SS Razor
Very similar to the SS Japanese razor from Feather this razor features one distinct difference, opposed to the traditional type of Kamisori razor featuring a single continuous piece of steel with a flat-headed blade on one end the SS Razor is very similar to cut throat razors in that it has a folding handle. Similar to the previous razor the handle is also super engineered using a high grade silicone resin & the handle is also heat resistant up to 135C/275F. Much like it’s completely straight counterpart this razor comes in 3 colors, black, lime & wine. It all comes down to personal preference really, depending on if you want a completely straight razor or one that features a folding handle. Users of this razor & the above have commented on how close a shave it gives, quoting “The shave is the absolutely the closest you can get”. For more info you can click here. Please note this razor does not come with blades & they have to be purchased separate.
Feather Artist Club DX Folding Wood Handle Razor
This razor is at the higher end of Feathers product range but it looks awesome & is manufactured to perfection. The stainless steel head is heat resistant, chemical resistant & won’t rust. While the wooden handle is also heat resistant, lightweight, comfortable has been tastefully resinated. The handle is also specially designed so that the razor doesn’t slip from your hand, the handle has engraving on the side that act as slip protectors.
One thing that we like with all Feather razors is that much like the SS Japanese razor the DX folding razor also has an easy method to replacing the blades, all you have to do is pinch the razor head & the blade will drop out, however care should be taken as the blades are extremely sharp.
As the blades are so sharp, no pressure should be applied when shaving, simply let the blade do what it’s supposed to do, if you do go for a razor like the Feather DX you may have to remind yourself of the sharpness of the blade. Straight razors & safety razors sometimes get mixed up & this is certainly not for a beginner & isn’t a safety razor. Much like learning to drive, you wouldn’t start with a Ferrari & this razor is certainly the Ferrari of the Japanese straight razor world so please take care when shaving & changing the blades.
While this razor is recommended for professional barbers you too can shave like an absolute boss with this razor. As mentioned this razor is pretty much the Ferrari of Japanese straight razors which is great but it also comes with a hefty price tag which is expected, click here for info & to see some more of the exceptional reviews on the Feather Artist Club DX Folding Wood Handle Razor.
Iwasaki straight razors
Iwasaki is a licensed sword maker, full name Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, or Yoshi Iwasaki for short. Mr Iwasaki was trained by his father among other metallurgists primed for their work Japaense steels. Mr Iwasaki was born in 1933 & continues to hand craft swords & straight razors. When he is not working himself he is passing down his trade to young budding metallurgists & blacksmiths. These days Mr Iwasaki is producing less & less Japanese straight razors as each is hand forged so typically the razors are very low in stock if any at all.
One razor we like in particular by Mr Iwasaki is the 50mm Kamisori straight razor, which has been hand crafted by the man himself. The blades overall length 50mm & the overall length of the razor is 170mm. This particular razor is a little more expensive than the Feather Japanese straight razors but it is justified by the fact they are very rare & are made entirely by hand. For more info on this blade Amazon typically have it for sale, click here to be taken to the exact page, but as mentioned stock is usually very low so if you do see it for sale it’s worth buying there & then before someone else does.
All in we love Japanese Straight Razors, they’re a little different, look cool & have a good background story. Let us know if you’ve enjoyed this post & if you’ve ever used a Japanese straight razor.