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  1. #1
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    Arrow Iwasaki, Livi & Takahashi Norikazu

    Iwasaki size 1

    I'm glad I didn't wait till I became proficient in shaving as some have advised to only get one once you've acquired the skill to shave comfortably with western razor. Since I'm not a very good listener, I went ahead and got one.

    I'll never forget my first shaving experience. No nicks/cuts/lacerations. The only time I suffered minor cut was when I shaved with the ura for kicks during my 3rd or 4th shave session. That was not only foolhardy but down right stupid. Razors should be treated with respect just like any other instrument. Especially in the hands of a very inexperienced untrained green pea. The cut occurred on #3 section ( right upper lip ). Thank God I wasn't insipid enough to use it on #12 or #13.

    I got this from Japan Woodworker. I inquired about the honing progression on these as I didn't know much about them at that point. I asked to be transferred to someone who knew and I got someone who claims that there is no apprentice and also assert they do nothing more than sell razor as they acquired it from their contact in JDM land. No honing or stropping of any sort is done.

    For me the ostentatious scale, file work, extravagant jimps, crazy inlayed tangs or size of razor is nice but not entirely necessary. It adds aesthetic values but functionality is my preference in general. I find that simplicity is best represented with Iwasaki size 1 ( size 2 meant for heavier set beards and 2x price of size1 ). Where the function of razor supersedes fashion.

    In spite of the few razors I have, this maybe too presumptuous but Iwasaki is indeed an impressive razor compared to my shaving arsenal. This along with the Livi Japanese inspired razor are ones I've been using of late.


    Craftsmanship: Japanese culture value asymmetry and refer to it as Wabi-sabi
    Front and back of razor are blackened to help reduce rust ( does not prevent ). The tear-dropped shaped notch is very nice. Towards the point of the blade there's a mini-notch. Nicely done.

    Balance:
    excellent as it is very light in comparison to other razors. Total control of the razor. You are essentially "one" with the razor. I know it sounds cheesy but that's how I feel. There's a saying "Jinba-ittai" rider and horse are one. From shaving standpoint, the Iwasaki exemplifies this saying. Granted it's only designed for someone else to shave you with but with preparation and respect of razor, you will find this will give you one of the best shaves second to none.

    Collectability:
    If you love razors in general or would simply like to try something out of the norm, this would be great addition to your shaving arsenal.

    Price: For such an exquisite shave with simple yet functional design-it definitely is worth the price. Sure as hell didn't regret it.
    Liked it so much I went and picked one up from JimR. More info here:
    Eastern Smooth: The Store!

    Jim was not only pleasant to deal with but also very informative. Shipped fast. Took utmost care in packaging of razor. We've all come to know and hate the abused/neglected packages from delivery drivers as most look to have been coming in as if it's been claymored.

    Overall:
    One can take my review with grain of salt as I've only been shaving few months. Still there isn't a shadow of doubt as to quality work of Iwasaki. Mizuouchi is to be commended for his impeccable artistic abilities. One might say it's naive to say so seeing as how I don't have the OG Iwasaki. Even so, it doesn't matter at this point as this far exceeded my expectations! Highly recommended.

    Livi ATS34

    I got this from Straight Razor Designs ( SRD )
    I was curious to see how close this would be to Iwasaki. I wasn't disappointed with results.

    Craftsmanship:
    It is packaged in nice box with soft red paddidng.
    The inscription on omote says Made in Italy and on ura Mastro Livi.
    The spine work is very impressive. On the omote it stretches nearly at the end whereas the ura, it stops short. The bottom handle section is worked as well. The end of handle there's
    1 1/2" or so gold wash. Nice touch.

    Balance:
    Like the Iwasaki it's nice and light. No trouble spot with any section.

    Collectability: Livi's family has an impressive history and he lives up to the family name. This razor exudes class and prestige to say the least. Unlike the adage "All show no go" this piece performs remarkably well.

    Price:
    It's up there with custom razor manufacturers.

    Overall:
    Very good. I was really impressed with this. While the Iwasaki is canted more, this certainly does not dissappoint.

    Takahashi Norikazu's Kanetake

    I picked this masterpiece up from OLD_SCHOOL.

    More info in OLD_SCHOOL's interview

    Test shaved the edge at the point was tugging a little, but not too bothersome. I stropped 30x on SRD latigo and was good to go.


    Craftsmanship:
    Comes in nice box. It's rougher than the former aesthetic-wise as handle edges aren't rounded off. It doesn't bother me whatsoever. If Norikazu was going for rustic look he has indeed achieved it and then some. The notch ( not a thumbnotch ) is blackened, unlike Iwasaki it is brush clear. Towards the end of my shaving I discovered that the bottom of handle had oxidized. One should be cognizant as stated earlier the blackened sections help preserve the steel. Not to be misconstrued as rust inhibitor or preventive measure.

    Balance:
    This has nice heft to it. It's still light. Possibly one of the lightest razor in my arsenal thus far. Had no trouble with any section. If any my shaving time was cut.

    Collectability:
    There were 10 of these last I checked. I'm glad I picked one up.

    Price:
    Well worth it.

    OLD_SCHOOL was great dealing with. Shipped the item fast. Took extreme care in packaging of razor.

    Overall:
    Norikazu is to be commended with his artistic ability. He's only been making razors for 5 years and he's produced a superiour shaver-force to be reckoned with in razor community.

    I look forward to my next session.

    Cross-section:
    Iwasaki & Kanetake


    Livi & Kanetake


    Livi & Iwasaki


    Bottom handle ( top to bottom: Norikazu, Livi, Iwasaki )


    Spine ( top to bottom: Norikazu, Livi, Iwasaki )





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  3. #2
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review. I haven't tried the Japanese style straight yet. It is very interesting to read the comparison and the shaving impressions. If biz ever picks up there will be some of those type razors in my future.
    Be careful how you treat people on your way up, you may meet them again on your way back down.

  4. #3
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    Arrow

    I don't know what's wrong with me. I neglected to include the shave.

    How did it compare to the Iwasaki(s)?
    Absolutely stunning! The fit and finish is similar but it's indeed on the rough side as far as handling is concerned though it doesn't bother me.

    Was your shave comfortable? How about close? Your opinion is that after a good-significant stropping is enough?

    The shave was comfortable it's so close to the Iwasaki it's not noticeable. As it stands I shaved with Iwasaki 13 times now 30 on latigo before and after the shave. No other linen whatsoever. I have as of late been using veg-tan leather but for purpose of the test I didn't use it upon shaving when comparing the 3.

    Next time what Ill do is shave one side with one razor and one with another as opposed to alternating which I did initially. Perhaps I shall employ the "long pass" which seems to be the general method around here.

    With regards to stropping, I remember distinctly the Livi didn't shave as comfortably as I'd hoped initially. It was only after good stropping did it shave nicely. Not as close as the Iwasaki but it's up there.

    The Iwasaki I acquired from Jim is no different from my first Iwasaki. It's equivalent to surgeon's tool. Precision-style cutting. Hands down the best in comparison to razors in my arsenal. I'm not saying this because I love all things JDM.

    That said my preliminary assessment shaving-wise would be:
    Iwasaki ~ Kanetake > Livi

    The reason I rated the way I did above was due to remote closeness of shaving between Iwasaki and Kanetake. Whether or not you have a Japanese razor, Norikazu's Kanetake is no joke. It's razor to be reckoned with.

    For those reading this, don't misunderstand. I love all my razors and wouldn't give any up. It goes without saying, Livi's razor is nice and from aesthetic standpoint one can say it blows both Japanese razors. But this is subjective as others prefer more extravagant look while others prefer the simpler look. The latter is my preference in general. I've always been the function over fashion type of guy. But this doesn't stop me from getting rather ornate piece such as Livi's. It is the opposite of the adage All show and no go. It indeed performs providing nice shave.

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  6. #4
    Senior Member blabbermouth JimR's Avatar
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    Lots of info Ivan, thanks.

    For the record: So Yamashita at japantools (who knows him personally) told me that Shigeyoshi Iwasaki is not dead, but has retired due to age and health reasons. Ryuichi Mizuochi is now in charge of making Iwasaki razors at Sanjokajikobou, in Sanjo city in Niigata prefecture; my supplier told me that there are some people making them under his supervision, but they are new and not very experienced, so he has to do most of the work still.

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  8. #5
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    Default Just bought Iwasaki from Japan Woodworker

    I am pretty excited to have my first shave with it. I am pretty new to straight razor shaving but have read enough to know that it will probably be a unique experience.

  9. #6
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    Im getting my hands on an Iwasaki from So from Japan Tool, i cant wait!!!

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