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Mantic59’s Kamisori Journey: An Update

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kamisori sharpened
I have previously discussed (PART 1, PART 2) getting and starting to use a Japanese-style straight razor (“Kamisori”).  Here’s the latest on my adventure.

Falling Off Mount Fiji?

Using this razor has been more of a challenge than I anticipated.  I have been lucky with stropping: I haven’t cut the strop and the blade edge remains good, despite its asymmetrical shape.  I’ve been stropping about five-to-one with the label side (Omote) and the back side (Ura).  I have both a paddle strop (from Straight Razor Designs) and a hanging strop (from Bison) but I have found the hanging strop works better for this.

But my shave technique has not lived up to my own expectations.  As I mentioned in my previous update, shaving the dominant (right) side of my face hasn’t been much trouble.  But I just cannot get the same quality of shave on the other side!  How frustrating! I have tried shaving with the Ura side of the blade as some have suggested along with various ways of holding the razor “correctly” but the best I have been able to manage is a “darn fine shave” (DFS) quality, one time.  But most of the time no matter what I do I end up with either a good nick or razor burn (or both) on the left side of my face.  I may be improving but it is modest and slow.  Admittedly I am not shaving with the razor full-time which probably does not help get the technique nailed down.

Meanwhile I read where some Japanese shavers have taken to Western-style straight razors because it is easier for them too!

I must admit: I still prefer shaving with a DE.  But of the straight razors I do have my favorite is my Hart Steel 6/8.  The Hart is a nice, hefty razor that just plows through my stubble.  I do get the occasional nick from it but–surprisingly to me–I get little or no burn or irritation from it.  I need to write more about it.  🙂


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

8 thoughts on “Mantic59’s Kamisori Journey: An Update”

  1. HI Mark!
    I’ve also recently started shaving with a Kamisori Sword and have found that you have be ambi with this razor to get the right angles.
    Looking forward to more about this fantastic shaver!

  2. Thanks Mark! I’ve been looking these over for years and years, still relatively easy to find used in restorable condition at fairly descent prices, just never got one. I almost got one as my very first straight razor but went with a traditional American spike tip full-hollow instead. Despite the different grind to each side it seems the rigidity of the blade could be more comfortable to ‘me’ as I’m still struggling with how flimsy and delicate a full-hollow feels to shave with. I’d probably do better with a vintage wedge than my hollow but just looking at these brings to mind images of simpler times when ave was almost if not actually, ceremonial. Good luck getting the hang of it, that is if you’re even still trying. If you’ve given up or just don’t care for it I’d be thrilled to shoot you my address, give it a serious go and report back to you good or bad. Financially I can’t afford to ‘pay’ attention as some say but I’d certainly give one a serious try.

  3. Mark. Do you use both hands with the Hart?
    9 months ago I made the determination to try a straight. In the 4-5 weeks that followed while I assembled my kit, I started using both hands with my DE, just to begin developing some dexterity in my off hand. I think it helped. For the occasional times that I go back to a DE, I find that using both hands has improved my technique with that razor too.

        1. The best video of them all. Also 2 hands with a western straight is the only option. But the kamisori both fascinates me and scares the crap out of me. I’ll get one someday.

  4. I have the same problem with my Hart Steel 6/8. As my first straight, I find it difficult to get the blade sharp enough to shave comfortably. Shaving brings tears to my eyes and I always get razor burn. It’s probably my technique that’s lacking, but it’s hard to learn with a blunt blade. Though I expected it to be less sharp than my Feather DE blades, this is a bit much. I’ll probably get it professionally sharpened to take that out of the equation.

  5. That is one frightening looking blade. It looks more like an edged weapon than a whisker whip. You are a brave shaver!

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