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The Middle of the Mountain - The Stone of Ultimate Romance - The Legendary Nakayama


Well-Known Member
The only other stone that I have interest in besides the Coticule is the Nakayama. For me, it is the stone of ultimate romance. It's as if it was forged from the center of the Earth itself, giving it that ultimate density giving that ultimate finish on a razor. It has that Japanese feeling, that bad@ss better than everyone else Japanese feeling. From the name, to the origin, look, the performance, the mysteriousness. The nature of this stone is absolutely amazing. I imagine Samurai honing their swords to the ultimate sharpness with these stones, and passing them down generation after generation.(With the Coticule, I imagine the Romans doing it, but the Romans aren't as cool as Samurai.) I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The question is, can it hone a razor by itself? Could one use a Uninaka method, or a Dilunaka method?

Also, does anyone have a link to info regarding this stone? Maybe something about their history, or the mining, crafting, use, etc.

Actually I just found a bunch of information over at a site called Japan-Tool. Apparantly there are a lot of different Japanese nats, and the Nakayamas aren't even the best. Check these beautiful stones out (I like pictures :) ):


Where is the drool emoticon?


The site said that if you find an Okudo under $500 be wary!

This one picture I found interesting, and related to my question:

He said that it cuts really fast, but is extremely fine. You can clearly see from the dark slurry that it must be quite quick.

There are a ton more stones here, some even cooler:

I'll be checking out the rest of this site.
The last picture looks a bit like the one I own.

They are beautiful stones indeed, and their legacy is just mind-boggling.
I find that very appealing. Mine performs excellent. I have used it in any imaginable way. Sure you can use a Unicot type of approach. On the 2 Japanese naturals I ever used, it worked just fine, although the bevel correction stage takes a bit longer, but not that much.

They also display a degree of "slurry-dulling" , albeit less than most Coticules. I would always finish on plain water. One of the special features, that no one ever talks about, is that with the right amount of water (which is only a little) they exert a favorable suction to the part of the bevel in contact with the hone. (This is something a Coticule does not do) You can clearly recognize the sweet spot by the razor developing a slight draw on the surface of the hone. This helps for an evenly polished and keen edge, because it prevents the very thin end of the edge to flutter while it travels over the hone. I find it key for getting the best results off the ones I tried.

I am annoyed though by the amount of hype they receive. In the end, the edges are not better than those of a Coticule. I could be accused of being biased, but I'm not going to mind about that.:) I can honestly say that I spend €350 on a Nakayama in the hope that it would add the magic everyone was talking about at that time. It was not. For a while I thought I was sold a lesser one, till my friend Seth, who lives in Japan, was so kind to lend me one that performed among the very best, according to his own experience with several Japanese natural hones. I have thoroughly tested and compared and I know now that these are excellent hones, that yield great results if you take your time to figure them out. But beware people saying that they'll give you magical edges, certainly if you already mastered honing on a Coticule first.

I always wondered about the reasons behind the hype. I know for fact that excellent, yet small hones can be bought locally in Japan for €20 or less, and those are sold overseas for almost 10 times that amount. (and I suspect the same goes for larger specimen too) That's a nice profit. You can all start praying that Ardennes never goes out of business, because smart people will start to do exactly the same with Coticules. (No I won't be among those "smart" people:mad: money is a means for me, not a goal)
Anyway, one of the main reasons for success is that the Japanese natural escapes the "less is more" hoax. I'm going to be whipped for this :O - disclaimer: yes you can hone razor with a "less is more" approach and if you are going to aim for hitting the desired sharpness levels on a coarse synthetic hone and only clean up the scratches after that, "less is more" can be exactly what you need -. Eventually, a guy works his way up to 10 laps on a 16K Shapton, this way, and then he jumps to his Nakayama... All of the sudden he is prepared to do 100 or more laps. An excellent way to discover there still was plenty sharpness to gain on the edge, after all. And an open curtain for the Nakayama, because at that stage, they do offer excellent edge refinement on water only.

This post is only written because I believe in correct information, and I believe there is often too much hype going on about hones. I battle against it, whether that concerns Belgian or Japanese natural hones. This website supports Coticules for honing, but you are welcome with any other honing setup here, and we'll do our best the provide you with unbiased information to get the very best possible results.

Thanks for posting Justin,

Thank you, Bart. Thank you so much. The hype is killing me...

I too am of course pleased by the Romance of the Japanese stones, but the reality is so...real.

I have my suspicions where the hype might be coming from...

I have two beautiful stones, they come form the "honyama" mines in Kyoto, perhaps not the Nakayama mine as the previous owner has forgotten the details, but they are heirloom stones.

They do give smooth, sharp edges... the one I have been using most, lately, and the one I have struggled with so much I wanted to bang my head against the wall (in part because of the hype and it's connected misinformation, in part because of my own obstinance) actually depends greatly upon slurry. I have used something like the unicot method, except I DON'T dilute the slurry. I let it get thicker, and darker, and break down into a real paste, and when it is worn away to nothing, I rinse the blade and shave...and it is a lovely edge. That is coming form a chipped, damaged edge...

I do this as I was taught to do it by a man who used that stone for 40 years, and it works...slurry is actually a fundamental part of honing on a Japanese stone. Every guide I've read in Japan, every person who's told me about honing on a natural stone IN JAPAN, says a good nagura is as important as a good stone.
Thank, Jim.

I have read several sources that the particles of a Japanese hone are friable into finer fragments by correct honing on them. What you describe might very well be the key for doing more on them then finishing off an already very keen edge.

Coticule garnets show none of that sort of cleavage, so the principles are fundamentally different.

I have zero experience with the use as you describe it, but it makes sense to me to do it that way on a Nakayama, and I am eager to try and learn.

I fully realize that all hones must be assessed in fairness, and that can only be done by someone who really knows how to get their best. In that light, everything I have to share about the Japanese hones, needs to be approached with serious reservations.

I hope this thread will turn into a valuable piece of information about the use of the Japanese hones and not into a stream of writings by gents that need to convince themselves that the money was well spent.:D

I also hope, that in time; when you have gained confident knowledge, you could do us the honor of writing a good article in the Honing Academy about working with Japanese natural hones.

Kind regards,
Bart said:
I know for fact that excellent, yet small hones can be bought locally in Japan for €20 or less, and those are sold overseas for almost 10 times that amount.

This is what saddens me, because it makes things inaccessible. What makes me angry is that the hype blows prices out of the water. Look at Fillys, or Swaty barber hones. They used to be dirt cheap, a dime a dozen, but now Fillys are going for close to $200, and when I tried to pick up a Swaty I couldn't because they were going for $100-150, which is unacceptable. I just hope that this doesn't happen to Coticules.

Bart said:
I also hope, that in time; when you have gained confident knowledge, you could do us the honor of writing a good article in the Honing Academy about working with Japanese natural hones.

Yes, thank you for the info Jim. I too hope that, when your ready, you will share your knowledge of Japanese naturals with us. Maybe you could make a site :lol: (NOT those naturals ;))

Regarding the hype, what I don't like about it is that people aren't using the stones to their full potential, they aren't experimenting with different techniques. Bart, if it weren't for you I doubt any of us would be using just a Coticule to hone our razors. It would just be a mere finishing stone. I'd like to see the same be done for the Japanese naturals, as you are doing with the Coticule.

Anyways, these stones seem to be fully capable, especially if they are honing things like knifes, and chisels on them. (There are some really nice chisel sets on that site BTW). I'd like to own one like that top picture one day, even if they aren't better than Coticules. (My interest in Japan compels me to :))


Edit: I wonder how some of the lesser known, or lesser thought of stones perform. Maybe they could be had for decent prices.