May 3, 2011

Iwasaki and Jnats (part 2)

When I asked Iwasaki san if there are any knowledge for honing razors to the customers he went from workshop to his house and came back with a copy.
レザーと日本剃刀の研ぎ方 "How to Hone Western and Japanese Razors" by Kousuke Iwasaki

Iwasasaki san explained me that it is a text book for a advanced class for barbers where his father gave a lecture about 50 years ago (This textbook was written Jan. 1963).  He added a advance class for barbers would be a graduate course like master course at an university. 
I got permission to translate or make an extract from him.
But my friend  Jim at Eastern Smooth   made a translation recently so go there to have the translation of this book "How to Hone Western and Japanese Razors" At Long Last: Honing Razors and Nihonkamisori.
(I translated the title a bit different but it is the same.)
I read it and it looks to me not as a text book. It is more a record of Kosuke Iwasaki's lecture. It is written in speaking Japanese and not writing Japanese.
Jim's translation is wonderful and I do not think that something is lost at the translation. But this is not a scientific paper and I think something was lost from the lecture to the record of the lecture.
So if you read Jim's translation just read the essence or soul of it. And it was written about 50 years ago. Many things has changed since that time.

Here some examples (Translation by Jim in Italic) :

If you have bought the coarse Botan, and either the Tenjou or Mejiro for middle honing, there is no objection to seeking out a Koma Nagura to come between them.

I think there is missing the word tomo nagura so read it "the koma can be a bridge to tomo nagura but not always necessary."

But the soul or essence of it is that Koma is not necessary. He was very aware of cost performance and writes:

The Koma have particles finer than Botan, yet still eat steel quickly, and sword polishers and Cloisonee makers buy them in large quantities, so they are even more expensive than Botan.

Now about what has changed in 50 years.
What has changed from 1963 and now (2011) is that now very good maruka stones are rare and very expensive. And that there are many natural stones with maruka stamps which do not perform well.
It is also a result that the great Iwasaki-shi has recommended maruka:

A hone with a brown stamp reading “Maruka Shouhonyama”  on the small end is absolutely top class.

In 1963 Nakayama mine was not closed and maruka stones has not been so expensive. About 30 years ago Nakayama mine was closed and most of the very good stones have been sold already.

I wonder what Iwasaki-shi would write or lecture if he lives now.

There are many very important things what is right now too.

The yellow stones are considered the best, but after trying reddish ones, blue ones and white ones, the results showed that the particles were the same and the honing results were all equivalent. 

This is very important. Do not buy natural stones on appearance. Buy them on performance. 

Because these problems can’t be seen, all the honing done up to now has been less than perfect. If he could see these issues, then any professional barber would be able to hone out chips or repair a rounded bevel.---
now, tools to look at the blade’s edge like metallurgical microscopes, which were once limited to scientists, have become necessary as well. Without this, your chances of honing a good edge are lowered. How can you hone an edge that you can’t even see?

Very important thing. You must see the results of  honing.

To be continued....

1 comment:

  1. A very good useful book. I have learnt many new interesting things. Thanks.