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(Published: Dec. 8, 2016, Updated: 2016: 17 Dec. 2017: Jan., March, April, Mai, JuneJuly, Aug, Sept,
Okt (revision article), Nov

Before I begin, please keep in mind that I don’t speak or read the Japanese language,
most of the information is gathered from Japanese sites, which I’ve translated with
different translating programs. Although I only give information of which I am certain
(or almost certain), bear in mind that there possibly could be mistakes somewhere!
(Should you find a mistake, please contact me using the contact form below)

岩崎 = Iwasaki, 三条製作所 ⇒ Sanjō seisakusho
= Sanjo Works / Sanjō Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (1),
often with ㊂  (三 “san”, within 〇 “maru” ⇒ brand name)
which is usually translated as “Maru-san

(Updated, 2017, Sept)



Since their foundation in 1947 (or 1946, see further), the factory
have strived to make cutlery that exceeds the quality of those made
in Solingen, Germany, a famous cutlery manufacturing area.

The company was founded by Kosuke Iwasaki, a respected authority
on metallurgy who had conducted scientific research on Japanese
edged tools, especially swords. In 1954, they produced western-style
 (‘straight razors’) using tamahagane, traditional Japanese
iron (read ‘steel’) used for producing swords. They are equally
sharp as those made in Solingen.

In addition to western-style razors, their Japanese razors
(‘kamisori’), small knives and pointed knives are renowned
in various parts of the world for their sharpness.


When you put 岩崎 三条製作所 三◯ into ‘Google Translate’,
sometimes “三◯” is translated as “san ◯”, “Sanyo”, “Sankyo” or even “Sansui”
This makes me wonder if ㊂ possibly represents “Sanjō” (instead of “Maru-san”),
the area where Sanjō seisakusho was situated (Not sure!)

Iwasaki was one of the masters, the master, who made Tamahagane razors

岩崎又造氏 = Iwasaki Matazō-shi = Mr. Matazō Iwasaki (father of Kōsuke)
岩崎航介氏 = Iwasaki Kōsuke-shi = Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki (father of Shigeyoshi)
岩崎重義氏 = Iwasaki Shigeyoshi-shi = Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki
水落良市氏 = Mizuochi Ryōichi-shi = Mr. Mizuochi Ryōichi
飯塚解房氏 = Iizuka Tokifusa-shi = Mr. Iizuka Tokifusa (“Shigefusa” 『重房』)
上條幸夫氏 or 上条幸夫氏 = Kamijō Yukio-shi  = Mr. Kamijō Yukio (Kamijō Yukio)


(Dr.) Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki designed the Iwasaki kamisori,
and also became the famous metallurgist who has classified
Japanese steels i.e. “yellow paper”, “white paper”, “blue paper”.

Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki’s father, Mr. Matazō Iwasaki  was a famous cutlery
distributor in Sanjō, Niigata, Japan, famous for their cutlery production.

However, Mr. Matazō Iwasaki’s family business was defeated by the
competition with Germany, which had been revived after World War I.

iwasaki-kousuke-kopie Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki (°1903), second son of
Mr. Matazō Iwasaki, wanted to elucidate the secret of the Japanese
sword, represented by “Masamune” which is said to be top of the world.

He desired to make such kind of knife, hereby trying to defeat Solingen (Germany)
once again… His life was dedicated to the Japanese sword and Tamahagane,
which made Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki very famous for his research of the
old Japanese sword, the sword smith and its revival.

kousuke Kousuke 2.jpeg For the study of Japanese sword and to
unravel sword smith secrets, Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki first studied the ancient documents
at “Tokyo Imperial University Faculty of Letters Department of national history

After this, in order to furthermore elucidate the scientific process of Japanese sword,
he went to the University of Tokyo (metallurgy department) and did different studies.
He obtained several different bachelor degrees, and also master degrees in metallography.
Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki also became an apprentice of a Japanese sword blacksmith and Japanese sword whet master, became a famous sword smith in the school, and started a prototype research of the Western razor, this in cooperation with a barber. He learned how a sword is forged, polished and sharpened.

Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki developed his own process of producing Tamahagane for razors.
The special Tamahagane used to make his razors took Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki (together
with other knife and razor makers) 10 years to develop, as the 60-62 Rockwell of katana blades with a carbon content of 0,8% wasn’t high enough for the edge retention of a razor. The Iwasaki Tamahagane razors where hardened to a 64-64,8 Rockwell, some
even to 67 Rockwell…

Unfortunately, some equipment broke when they moved the forge to its current
location, which makes it harder and harder each time to make Tamahagane again…

During his studies at the metallurgy department, his eldest son, Shigeyoshi, was
born in 1933. In 1935, the family moved from Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture
to Zushi (逗子市, Zushi-shi), Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

When completing graduate school in 1938, Kōsuke was 36 years old. He became an
assistant of the University of Tokyo engineering department until 1945. At the end
of WWII, he tried to make high quality Japanese swords with government support.

The Iwasaki family moved in 1945 to Sanjō, hometown of Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki’s father.

After the war, in 1946, he established Sanjō Works (“Sanjō-seisakusho” or
“Sanjō-seisakusyo”) in Sanjō, which made the world famous Iwasaki razors.

As he kept on researching about Tamahagane, including scientific analysis
of metallographic structure by a “metallographic microscope”, he also began
a field survey at the mountains of Kyoto and Mikawa for a study of whetstones
which influences the sharpness and polish.

In 1952, a study of the process of excellent forged cutlery using Tamahagane steel
was admitted, thereby, Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki was given a grant (subsidy) of 600.000 yen
from the “Ministry of International Trade and Industry” for technology research.
There was also support of an acquaintance, of which equipment was borrowed.
Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki had built a smithy on the basis of the subsidy.

In 1954, he started the manufacturing and production of the razor (western-style razor
or ‘straight razor’), made of Tamahagane steel, a steel which keeps its sharpness as best of the world! (His son, Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, who helped him, was 21years old)

In 1961, Mr. Ryouichi Mizuochi 水落 良市氏 and Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka  joined the company.
With only 7 people, including Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki and his father Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki, together with two younger brothers and a sister of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki (see further),
the production of the Western razor (西洋剃刀 or Seiyō kamisori) and the Japanese razor
(和剃刀 or wa kamisori) came into full swing. Later on, Mr. Iizuka became independent, known as “Shigefusa”『重房』(see further).

Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki got cancer in 1963, Mr. Shigeyoshi (about 30 years old)
needed to take responsibility for the technical guidance of pupils, business
management, production and sale of the razors.

In August, 1967, while continuing to promote the scientific investigation of swords,
he died of recurrence cancer, he became 64 years old.

At this point, Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki’s research and scientific analysis of steel is taken
over by his eldest son Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, who, due to his outstanding skills and
extraordinary leadership, as a leading black- and smith, thereby giving a significant
impact on the technical improvement of subsequent Sanjō cutlery industry.

Because of his studies, razor manufacturing, innovative cutlery making with
scientific analysis using a “metallographic microscope”, and bringing this to
the cutlery blacksmith, Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki has contributed greatly to the local
manufacturer technology and its quality improvement. He kept on researching
Japanese swords and steel, and influenced the Sanjō steel industry in Niigata a
lot, as well as the entire steel industry in Japan.

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 1678   1-uk-flag : 2345910111213 )

Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki has devoted his entire life to razors and cutlery.
(°1933, Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, father: Kōsuke Iwasaki, mother: Shinko) 

In 1945, he went to the private junior-high school “Zushi Kaisei”, he graduated
from high school, Prefectural Sanjō, 1951. In the midst of poverty, he saw promise
in the farming technology. He got a job in the poultry farming business near Tokyo.
Around September 1951 he was confronted with restructuring because of the
post-war depression restructuring.

After this, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki began to help his father with his research.

After Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki is given a grant (subsidy) of 600.000 yen for technology research in 1952, extra equipment was borrowed, a smithy was built, 300.000 yen was borrowed from the “People’s Finance Corporation” for a “micro Vickers hardness meter” and a camera for taking picture of the metal structure. It was important for Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki to have excellent machinery and equipment for taking good judgments concerning steel.

Although Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki’s knowledge of metals was extensive, possibly
he had little experience as a blacksmith, he was a sword maker though.

Some say the Iwasaki family were blacksmiths, others say they weren’t…

After young Shigeyoshi had graduated from high school, he was send by his father to
be an apprentice with several master blacksmiths. One of them was sword smith Master Nagashima Munenori, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki’s Tamahagane and sword forging mentor.

Combining the theoretical study of father Kōsuke, and the practical blacksmith
technology mastered by Shigeyoshi, in 1954 (Shigeyoshi, 21years old) they
succeed in the development of the Tamahagane steel made Western razor.
Actually, Sanjō Seisakujo had beaten Solingen (Germany) razors for the quality
and performance, however they could not produce their Western Tamahagane
razors as much as Solingen could produce their razors.

Unlike conventional blacksmiths, Iwasaki used scientific equipment, such as
a device that tests hardness and a metallographic microscope.

Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki got married in 1958 to Fumiko (or Ayako) Satō, a childhood friend.

Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki also had several apprentices, for example Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka, or “Shigefusa” (1954), Mr. Shigetoshi Sato (1967), Yoshikane,…

In 1998, Munich, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki received the “Bavaria Prime Minister Gold Medal”
for “technology to create a superior cutlery using tamahagane”, which is a grand prize of craftsmanship.

Which began as a rivalry, has now become a mutual recognition of the qualities
in each other.

Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki also shared his skills and knowledge to whoever wanted to learn.
Several years ago he organised “Sanjō Kaji Shudan”, a volunteer group of 30 Sanjō smiths
who help ordinary people try out smithery once a month. Some became professional
sword smiths. His sharing wasn’t limited to Japan. Since 1983 he has been regularly
dispatched by the “Japan International Cooperation Agency” for developing countries
such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Kenya to instruct local smiths in advanced skills.

Some people said if Iwasaki sold that kind of super high quality razors, they weren’t
able to sell lots of razors, and weren’t able to make money. Iwasaki thought it wasn’t
good to think that way. If they were able to make razors to be used from father to son,
and from son to grandson, it could beat German razors. Nobody else made/makes that
kind of razors, which made it able to sell all over the world, and that was exactly what
Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki wanted.

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 6781517  1-uk-flag : 3, 1011141516 )

At one time, “Sanjō Works” had Mr. Kousuke Iwasaki, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki,
two of his other sons, Mr. Mizuochi (who presently makes Iwasaki razors), and
Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka (who makes “Shigefusa『重房』knifes) as their workers, the
company really had a dream team of Japan cutlery.

Mr. Ryoichi Mizuochi worked at “Sanjō Works” when he was young but he had
to succeed his fathers shop and stopped making razors. When he got 60 years old
he came back because Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki got ill and couldn’t fulfil orders.

Mr. Mizuochi is still engaged in manufacturing traditional Japanese razors at
Mr. Iwasaki’s factory. He is also an active traditional craftsman. The number of
orders are so large, there is a year waiting list.

All these members are part of the “Echigo Sanjō Blacksmith group”.

Here is a picture of the staff of “Sanjō Works” around 1963:

1963-sanjo-works-1a 1963-sanjo-works-1b

From right to left: 
次弟尚武(ひさたけ)氏 = Younger brother (of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki) Mr.  Hisatake
末弟勝介(かつすけ)氏 = Youngest brother (of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki) Mr. Katsusuke
水落良市氏 = Mr. Ryouichi Mizuochi
岩崎重義 = Shigeyoshi Iwasaki with child:
長女恵 (めぐみ) Eldest daughter Megumi
妹頁子さん = Younger sister Ms. Pējiko
文子夫人 = Mrs. Fumiko (or Ayako = wife of Shigeyoshi Iwasaki), 佐藤文子 = Fumiko (or Ayako) Satō, with child:
長男覚 (さとる) Eldest son Satoru
飯塚解房氏 = Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka
後に独立し庖丁緞(or瑕)冶 which later became independent
重房を名乗る then called “Shigefusa

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 1678,  1-uk-flag : 9,  1018 )

Around 1954, Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka (Seiso Izuka) began his apprenticeship as a
teenager with sword maker Mr. Kousuke Iwasaki and Tamahagane razor maker
Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki at “Sanjō Works”, making traditional Japanese razors.
After 10 years, he decided to become a maker of cutlery. In 1964, Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka
was introduced by Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki to the famous Mr.Munenori Nagashima,
who made Japanese swords before becoming a (Kasumi) knife maker following
World War II. After being an apprentice of Mr. Nagashima for several months,
learning how to make knives, he started his own business “Shigefusa”『重房』
in 1964 (which later on included his 2 sons, Masayuki Iizuka and Yoshihide Iizuka).
By the age of 38 he had already been celebrated as the best houchou (Japanese style
chef’s knife) blacksmith in Japan. Mr. Izuka is currently still an active master as a
traditional craftsman of Traditional Japanese knives.

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 19   1-uk-flag : 2021 )

(Updated, 2017, Sept)

Here we see 4 kitchen knives made by “Shigefusa”『重房』
Together with the 『重房』stamp, at first glance, it seems that next to 特製 (“Tokusei”,
“Special product”), also the ㊂ stamp (“Sanjō” or “Maru-san”, of ‘Sanjō seisakusho’)
to be seen:

Shigefusa 1b Shigefusa 1c
Shigefusa 1d Shigefusa 2b
(kitchenknifeforums.com/Kanji help Shigefusa)

登録 = “Tōroku” = “Registrated”
重房 = “Shigefusa”
Maru-ni / ㊂ 特製 = Maru-ni / ㊂ “Tokusei” = Maru-ni / ㊂ “Special product”

When looking carefully these 4 knives though, there seems to be only 2 lines in the circle (Maru-ni = “二” in “◯”), and not 3 “三” in “◯”, as in the stamp!
Shigefusa 1c kopie (Shigefusa)  Shigefusa 2b kopie (Shigefusa)
Iwasaki kamisori 2b kopie (Kamisori, Iwasaki) Tamahagane Iwasaki Shigeyoshi 1a1 kopie (Kamisori, Shigeyoshi Iwasaki)
Kiridashi 4a1 (Kiridashi, Shigeyoshi Iwasaki)  Kiridashi 5a1 Kiridashi 5a2 (Kiridashi, Shigeyoshi Iwasaki)

Maybe the 4th “Shigefusa”『重房』knife does resembles the “Sanjō Works – ㊂ Maru-san”  stamp a bit more, but I can’t help thinking there seems to be 1 line less in the circle…

At the moment, it isn’t clear if this stamp on “Shigefusa”『重房』knives is in fact a
Maru-ni “Maru-ni” (“circle with 2 lines”) stamp, and possibly a variant of the “Sanjō Works –
㊂ Maru-san”  stamp, or if it intentionally was made to look like the “Sanjō Works –
㊂ Maru-san”  stamp, or even if it is just a “Sanjō Works – ㊂ Maru-san” which looks
a bit differently, possible because such a stamp looks differently on knives then
on razors, I don’t know…

Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka worked at “Sanjō Works” since 1954, and joined the company
around 1961. He started to make knives around 1964 and became “Shigefusa”『重房』
later that year. So, for me, IMHO, these knives, could possibly made at “Sanjō Works”
or at least in the early stages of the new business of “Shigefusa”『重房』, which
leads me to think that these knives could be made around 1964 or a bit later…

It seems that a Maru-ni or  seems to be very rare on a “Shigefusa”『重房』knife…

Around 1954, both Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki and Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki could have made razors, though it seems very likely that is was Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki who made most of the kamisori by then, and made every Western type razors.

“In 1961, Mr. Ryouichi Mizuochi and Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka  joined the company. Together with two younger
brothers and a sister of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, the production of the Western razor (西洋剃刀 or Seiyō kamisori)
and the Japanese razor (和剃刀 or wa kamisori) came into full swing, this only with 7 people, including
Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki and his father Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki”
Between 1954 and 1964, Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka began his apprenticeship as a teenager with sword maker Mr. Kousuke
Iwasaki and Tamahagane razor maker Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki at “Sanjō Works”, making traditional Japanese razors
Mr. Mizuochi worked “Sanjō Works” when he was young but he had to succeed his fathers shop and stopped
making razors. When he got 60 years old he came back because Iwasaki san got ill and could not fulfil orders.

Between 1954 and 1964, kamisori could also be made (besides Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki and maybe Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki) by Mr. Tokifusa Iizuka, especially between 1961 and 1964, when he joined the company. Since 1961, the Western razor and the Japanese razors (kamisori) could also be made by Mr. Ryouichi Mizuochi, who presently makes the Iwasaki razors, although he stopped making razors for a while.

I couldn’t find what kind of work the two brothers and sister of Shigeyoshi had…

It is obvious that it is near to impossible to know who exactly made the razors, although
it seems that most razors were made by Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki (1954 or earlier – until a few years ago) and Mr. Ryouichi Mizuochi (1961 – now). Likely the earliest kamisori were made by Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki, he maybe even made the first Western straight razors
(together with Mr. Kamijō Yukio)…

Should it be that he made razors, Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki probably couldn’t have made
much razors anymore after 1963, since he was dealing with cancer, until he passed
away in 1967.

Concerning straight razors, Iwasaki didn’t do the entire work on his own.

Straight razors require an entirely other skill set then making kamisori: polishing and finishing. In order to make straight razors that met his strict quality requirements,
Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki approached one of Japan’s three “Straight Razor Masters”,
Master Tanifuji (Fukutarō), to train the Iwasaki family in razor finishing and scaling.
However, after the training, Mr. Iwasaki realised that not only would they have to build
an entirely new workshop with new equipment, the additional time involved in proper
polishing and scaling the razors would reduce production output immensely.

So instead of doing the finishing themselves, all Iwasaki razors were finished by
Master Tanifuji and his students. This means that the blades were forged, ground
and stamped by Iwasaki, then polished and scaled by Master Tanifuji. Master Tanifuji retired at the age of 79, around 1973, and since that time, there have been no new Iwasaki straight razors.

There are also Western carbon steel straight razors of Iwasaki to be found,
which were finished by Master Kamijō Yukio (上條幸夫 or 上条幸夫 (作)), and bear
his mark “KAMIJO”. There haven’t been Kamijō razors made after
1965 (昭和40年). (Kamijō Yukio)

There are also razors to be found with the combination of 岩崎 (Iwasaki) 上條 (Kamijo):

  • 「 岩崎 上條」「 六三六·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 636·2 Tamahaganeiwasaki-kamijo-1a1 iwasaki-kamijo-1a2

Actually, he was the first to finish the Iwasaki Western straight razors before Tanifuji
took over. At Iwasaki’s request, Kamijō Yukio, at the age of 92, moved his equipment to
Iwasaki’s forge and taught them all he knew about how to hand forge and grind razors.
He had been a member of Dr. Kōsuke Iwasaki’s study group.  He worked together with
Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki and finished most of the early Iwasaki razors.

Kamijo’s razors are now almost impossible to find in Japan and very sought after
by Japanese collectors, they are much harder to find than Iwasaki’s razors, and is
even harder to come by outside Japan.

For some, they are regarded as the best shaving razors ever, they also are
very hard, some have been tested at Rockwell 67 (880 on the Vickers scale)!

As seen before, besides Master Tanifuji (Fukutarō) and Master Kamijō Yukio,
possibly Iwasaki’s straight razors could have been finished as well by “Tokiwa” (トキワ)
(or it was one of the distributors of Iwasaki’s straight razors)

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 2528  1-uk-flag : 101129 )

Japanese razors (kamisori)

Mr. Ryoichi Mizuochi showing finishing of a Iwasaki kamisori:

Mr. Ryoichi Mizuochi showing Iwasaki kamisori honing:

On Iwasaki Tamahagane kamisori (single edged Japanese razors),
there are three types of engraving, found on the blade (Ura):

  • “Tamahagane Iwasaki” 「玉鋼 岩崎」
     409-1-iwasaki-hancho-gake-1a1 907-7-iwasaki-1a2 (found on kamisori with SN “409·1” (or lower)
    to “907·7” (or higher), most probably the mark of Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki)
  • “Tamahagane ㊂ Iwasaki” 「玉鋼 ㊂ 岩崎」
    1153%e3%83%bb13-iwasaki1d (found on kamisori with SN “949·37” (or lower) to “1169·19″ (or higher), could be a
    stamp of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki’s or Mr. Ryoichi Mizuochi. This stamp is also seen on the
    carbon steel straight razors, as well on the 30, 30 M, 33, 50 1/2, 60 レディ”Lady”, 70 G, 80 T, 90 H
    straight razors, it is also found on the Tamahagane kamisori with serial number “11·44” &
    “16·81″… There are verified Shigeyoshi Iwasaki made razors with such a stamp, for example:
    shigeyoshi-mizuochi-made-by-shigeyoshi , so it seems that Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki used different kind of stamps. ‘Recently’
    made kamisori are stamped as well with such a stamp, so Mr. Ryoichi Mizuochi, who is
    making the Iwasaki kamisori today, seems to be using this stamp as well, or a very similar one…
    At the moment I can’t distinguish Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki’s mark from Mr. Ryoichi Mizuochi…
  • ” Tamahagane ㊂ Shigeyoshi” 「玉鋼 ㊂ 重義」

In addition, there are three types of engraving on carbon steel/ Swedish steel kamisori:

  • “Carbon steel Iwasaki” 「炭素鋼 岩崎」or 「炭素鋼㊂岩崎」
    K Carbon Steel 2 kopie.jpg  k-carbon-2998-iwasaki-55mm-kamisori-1a1 (found on a carbon steel (Tansoko) kamisori with serial number 2998. Apparently these razors are one of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki’s many experiments, developing
    a steel to supercede Tamahagane). Striking is the similarity between the Iwasaki stamp
    and the one found on Tamahagane straight razors.)
  • “Registered ㊂ Iwasaki” 「登録 ㊂ 岩崎」
    %e7%99%bb%e9%8c%b2%e3%8a%82%e5%b2%a9%e5%b4%8e-kopie  (Swedish carbon steel)
  •  “㊂ Iwasaki” 「 ㊂ 岩崎」
    Iwasaki kamisori 2b kopie.png (Swedish carbon steel?)

In the end roughly there are six stamp types of which the “Tamahagane Iwasaki”
stamp「玉鋼 岩崎」(without ㊂) seems to be the oldest type.

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 2223 )

About the ㊂ stamp:

We know that Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki used the ㊂ stamp

tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-1a2 tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-1a1 (刀匠, sword smith 重義, Shigeyoshi)
tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-2a1 tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-2a2 (重義, Shigeyoshi)s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1-kopie  iwasaki-kamisori-tamahagane-shigeyoshi-2a2tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-1a1

The early Tamahagane kamisori (serial numbers (SN), going from 200 to about 950) didn’t have this ㊂ stamp though:

“Tamahagane Iwasaki” 「玉鋼 岩崎」
409-1-iwasaki-hancho-gake-1a1 Also the 岩崎 stamp is different, probably this is the stamp of
Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki 岩崎航介氏 (father of Shigeyoshi).
The same 岩崎 stamp is found on “carbon steel” kamisori:
K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a2 K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a4

→ Often a paper can be seen wrapped around the kamisori:
岩崎の日本剃刀  =  Iwasaki no Nihon kamisori = Iwasaki’s Japanese razor
検査済     本刃付   =  kensa sumi      honbadzuke = this razor is “fully inspected”
三条製作所 =  ” Sanjō-seisakusho / Sanjō-seisakusyo” = “Sanjo works; factory; plant”
⇒ Japan razor (kamisori) of Iwasaki, fully inspected, Sanjo Works

Japanese razors (kamisori)

In the early Iwasaki Tamahagane kamisori there are numbers (in Arabic) engraved in
the middle of the handle (which is made of soft iron).The first Iwasaki kamisori don’t have a ㊂ sign. Kamisori, associated with the「玉鋼 岩崎」stamp (without the ㊂ sign), have serial numbers (SN), going from 200 to about 950, for example:

k-409-1-iwasaki-hancho-gake-1a1                       Exif_JPEG_PICTURE
k-562-19-iwasaki-1960s-1a1                              562-19-iwasaki-1960s-1a3
k-699-7-iwasaki-1a1                           699-7-iwasaki-1a2
K 722.11 Tamahagane 1a1                          K 722.11 Tamahagane 1a2
k-902-70-iwasaki-1a1                    902-70-iwasaki-1a2
K 902.86 Iwasaki 1a1                           K 902.86 Iwasaki 1a2
k-907-7-iwasaki-1a2                                              907-7-iwasaki-1a3

Somewhere between SN 907·7 and 949·37 the stamp
「玉鋼 岩崎」 changed to 「玉鋼 ㊂ 岩崎」


The newer series, with SN (in Arabic) around 950 and higher are seen with
the current type of stamp:「玉鋼 ㊂ 岩崎」(“Tamahagane steel ㊂ Iwasaki”):

k-949-37-iwasaki-1a1      k-949-37-iwasaki-1a2-kopie
k-1058-8-v-iwasaki-1a1      1058-8-v-iwasaki-1a2
k-1074%e3%83%bb40-%e3%82%a2-%ef%bd%96iwasaki1b      1074%e3%83%bb40-%e3%82%a2-%ef%bd%96iwasaki1c
K 1011.8:1077.8 Iwasaki 1a1  K 1011.8:1077.8 Iwasaki 1a2
k-1153%e3%83%bb13-iwasaki1d      1153%e3%83%bb13-iwasaki1e
k-1157-63-tamahagane-iwasaki-1a1      k-1157-63-tamahagane-iwasaki-1a2
K 1059.8 V Iwasaki 1a1  K 1059.8 V Iwasaki 1a2
k-1169-19-tamahagane-iwasaki-1a1      k-1169-19-tamahagane-iwasaki-1a2

Strangely enough there are also razors to be found with the newer
“Tamahagane ㊂ Iwasaki”「玉鋼 ㊂ 岩崎」stamp, though with a serial
number lower then 100…

K 5.69 Tamahagane 1a1 K 5.69 Tamahagane 1a2
K 10.8 Tamahagane 1a2 K 10.8 Tamahagane 1a3
K 10.8 Tamahagane 1a1
(wrapping paper “SN 10·8”)
K 10.79 Iwasaki 岩崎玉鋼 1b 2 K 10.79 Iwasaki 岩崎玉鋼 1c
岩崎玉鋼 10.82 1a 岩崎玉鋼 10.82 1b
岩崎玉鋼 10.86 1a 岩崎玉鋼 10.86 1b
K 10.91 Iwasaki 岩崎玉鋼 1a1      K 10.91 Iwasaki 岩崎玉鋼 1c 2
K 11.44 TAMAHAGANE IWASAKINicho-Gake 1a2
K 12.38 Tamahagane 1a1 K 12.38 Tamahagane 1a2
k-14-25-tamahagane-a2         k-14-25-tamahagane-a1
K 15.92 Tamahagane 1a1 K 15.92 Tamahagane 1a2k-16-81-h-k-iwasake-tamahagane-1aa
K 20.11 1 Tamahagane 1a1  K 20.11 1 Tamahagane 1a2K 20.45 Tamahagane 1a1    K 20.45 Tamahagane 1a2
K 88.6 Tamahagane 1a1 K 88.6 Tamahagane 1a2

Sadly I don’t know the meaning of the serial numbers lower then 100…
Maybe the numbering started over again with the move of their forge, I don’t know…

The fact is that at a certain moment (unknown timeframe) the custom of
using serial numbers on the handle disappeared, making it very hard or
impossible to know wether it concerns a new or an old kamisori…

It can be noted that the Tamahagane symbol on Japanese razors (kamisori)
seems to change now and then (look at the 玉):

s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1b s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie

A special Tamahagane Iwasaki kamisori:

K Tamahagane K 1a1K Tamahagane K 1a2
Sadly, I don’t know the meaning of ‘K’…

Japanese razors (kamisori
‘Carbon steel’ – ‘Swedisch steel’

 ‘Carbon steelkamisori「炭素鋼 岩崎」or 「炭素鋼㊂岩崎」


DSCN3637 kopie.JPG
Apparently, the (old) “Carbon steel” 「炭素鋼 岩崎」or 「炭素鋼㊂岩崎」
kamisori were one of Shigeyoshi-san’s many experiments in developing
a steel trying to supersede Tamahagane.
They are exceptionally hard and difficult to sharpen but can get a superb edge,
possible a bit brittle though. (炭素鋼 = Tanso-kō = (Pure) Carbon Steel)
The ‘M’ found on the handle could possible mean it was tempered to ‘medium’ hardness

These 炭素鋼 kanji are also seen on straight razors:

  • 51 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, KAMIJO, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    iwasaki-51-trade%e3%8a%82mark-iwasaki-kamijo-%e7%82%ad%e7%b4%a0%e9%8b%bc-carbon-steel-1a1  iwasaki-51-trade%e3%8a%82mark-iwasaki-kamijo-%e7%82%ad%e7%b4%a0%e9%8b%bc-carbon-steel-1a2
  • 101 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, KAMIJO, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    IWASAKI 101 1a1
    IWASAKI 101 1a2
  • 805 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    iwasaki-805-carbon-steel-1a1  iwasaki-805-carbon-steel-1a2

Since ‘KAMIJO’ is written here in Western lettres, possibly these are from
the end of Kamijo’s career, working with Iwasaki. The ‘805’ would be younger…

The current “carbon steel” (Swedish steel) kamisori
don’t have a specific ‘Swedisch steel’ stamp:
%e7%99%bb%e9%8c%b2%e3%8a%82%e5%b2%a9%e5%b4%8e-kopie「登録 ㊂ 岩崎」”Registered ㊂ Iwasaki”
(Made of Swedish carbon steel)

→ There can be Serial numbers (SN) seen on these
carbon steel made kamisori, for example:

K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a2 K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a3 kopie
K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a2 K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a4
k-carbon-2998-iwasaki-55mm-kamisori-1a1    k-carbon-2998-iwasaki-55mm-kamisori-1a2
K Carbon steel 3708 Iwasaki 岩崎炭素鋼 1a1  K Carbon steel 3708 Iwasaki 岩崎炭素鋼 1a2
K Carbon steel 3754 Iwasaki 岩崎炭素鋼 1a1 K Carbon steel 3754 Iwasaki 岩崎炭素鋼 1a2

There are 3 variations to be observed:

  1. This “carbon steel” kamisori with SR 1 has the 岩崎 stamped like this:
    K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a2 kopie 1153e383bb13-iwasaki1d.png
    K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a4K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a1 K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a2 K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a3 kopieK Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a5K Carbon steel 1 Iwasaki 岩崎 炭素鋼 1a6
    IMHO this is a stamp used by Shigeyoshi Iwasaki or Ryoichi Mizuochi (see further)
  2. “Carbon steel” kamisori SR 2998, 3708, 3754,… has the 岩崎 stamped like this:
    K Carbon Steel 2 kopie 2.jpgwhich is IMHO used by Shigeyoshi Iwasaki (see further)
  3. The “carbon steel” kamisori with SR 635 炭素鋼 岩崎 宮本 635 is very interesting,
    first of all, it doesn’t have the ㊂ stamp:K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a1K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a2 K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a3 K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a4K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a5(Also observe the broader handle)
    Secondly, it has the 岩崎 stamped like this:
    K Carbon steel 635 Iwasaki 岩崎 宮本 炭素鋼 1a6 which is IMHO used by Kōsuke IwasakiThe absence of the ㊂ stamp leads me to think this “Carbon steel” kamisori SR 635
    is made in the beginning of the production and possibly made by Kōsuke Iwasaki.Possible, Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, started the SR again from 1,
    maybe after Shigeyoshi Iwasaki took over the business from his father, around 1963… (note sure! This is my own conclusion which is plausible for myself!)After 岩崎 stands 宮本 which would translate to ‘Miyamoto’,
    sadly I don’t know the meaning of this…

Japanese razors (kamisori)
‘shizu saburō’

One of the mysteries still remaining are the kamisori of 志津三郎 ‘shizu saburō’
with the ㊂ ‘Maru-san’ stamp on it:
Iwasaki - shizu saburō'? Maru-san 1c Iwasaki - shizu saburō'? Maru-san 2b 特別請合 = Tokubetsu ukea(i) = special guarantee
特級 / 特级 = Tokkyū = high grade; special grade
登録商標 = tōroku shōhyō, registered trademark
㊂ ‘Maru-san’ ?
志津三郎 ‘shizu saburō’

Sadly I don’t know the what the connection is between ‘shizu saburō’ & ㊂ ‘Maru-san’ …

Western razors – Straight Razors

On Iwasaki double edged Western straight razors, made of
Tamahagane, there are also serial numbers to be found, roughly
around 200 – 1900. In contrast to the Arabic written numbers on
kamisori, the straights have numbers written with Japanese kanji
(numbers from 1 to 9: 一二三四五六七八九).

The meaning of the serial numbers probably has something to do
with the production of Tamahagane.

From a single Tatara production (batch) there is enough Tamahagane
to make about 6-8 straight razors (maybe 9). Tamahagane straight razors.
Since it is made entirely out of Tamahagane steel, needs about 6 times
more amount of Tamahagane then Japanese Tamahagane razors (kamisori),
which explains why on Tamahagane straight razors, the number after the “·”
isn’t more then 9 (九), while on kamisori the number after the “·” exceeds
well above 40. The first number (before the “·”) therefore would be the
count of Tatara production (batch), the number after the “·” would stand for
the amount of razors, made of that particular batch. In that way, it also
would make sense why the serial numbers on carbon steel razors only have
1 number, and not 2, divided with a “·”, as with the Tamahagane razors.

Early straight razors with serial numbers lower then 800, as seen below,
can have a combination of both stamps 岩崎 (Iwasaki) and 上條 (Kamijo).
( → Kamijo, also see Kamijō Yukio)

Somewhere between Serial Number “644·8” & “707·7”, the trademark
changed from「 岩崎·上條」to「 ㊂ 岩崎 」, the Kamiju kanji disappeared…
(around 1965?)

The Tamahagane razors with SR around “707·7” – “820·4” apparently
have an extra “Arabic” number on the tang, which seems to indicate the
last number of the SR ( = the number of the razor, out of one single
Tamahagane lot/piece, for example 八二◯·四玉鋼 (= 820·4), on this razor
we see an extra “4” written in Arabic)

Strangely enough some other razors also have an extra “Arabic” number
on the tang but that number has nothing to do with the SR…
So after all, the extra “Arabic” number probably has another meaning…

  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎 6」「 八九◯·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 890·5 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎 7」「 ◯九八四·五玉鋼」Iwasaki 0 984·5 Tamahagane
(Updated: 2016: Dec. ; 2017: Jan., March., April, Mai, Okt)
  • 「 岩崎 ·上條」「 二一三·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 213·5 Tamahagane
    s-213-5-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a1 s-213-5-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 岩崎 ·上條」「 二七三·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 272·3 Tamahagane
    s-272-3-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a1 s-272-3-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 岩崎 上條」「 四◯九·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 409·3 Tamahagane
    s-409%c2%b73-iwasaki-kamiju-tamahagane-a1 s-409%c2%b73-iwasaki-kamiju-tamahagane-a2
  • 「 岩崎 上條」「 五二三·一玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 523·1 Tamahagane
    s-523%c2%b71-iwasaki-kamiju-tamahagane-1b s-523%c2%b71-iwasaki-kamiju-tamahagane-1a
  • 「 岩崎 上條」「 六一七·六玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 617·6 Tamahagane
    S 617·6 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1b 2 S 617·6 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1c 2
    S 617·6 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1b1 S 617·6 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1b2
  • 「 岩崎 上條」「 六三六·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 636·2 Tamahagane
    iwasaki-kamijo-1a1 iwasaki-kamijo-1a2
  • 「 岩崎 上條」「 六四四·八玉鋼」= Iwasaki Kamiju 644·8 Tamahagane
    S 644.8 Iwasaki Kamijo Tamahagane 1a1 S 644.8 Iwasaki Kamijo Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎 7」「 七◯七·七玉鋼」= Iwasaki 707·7 Tamahagane
    S 707·7 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1b1 S 707·7 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1b3
    S 707·7 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1b2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎 5」「 七二九·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 729·5 Tamahagane
    S 729·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 729·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a3 kopieS 729·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎 4」「 八二◯·四玉鋼」= Iwasaki 820·4 Tamahagane
    s-820-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-820-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 八八四·四玉鋼」= Iwasaki 884·4 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎 6」「 八九◯·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 890·5 Tamahagane
    S 890.5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 890.5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 八九四·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 894·2 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 八九九·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 899·3 Tamahagane
    S 899.3 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 899.3 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 九三二·四玉鋼」= Iwasaki 932·4 Tamahagane
    s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 九六一·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 961·5 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 九八一·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 981·2 Tamahagane
    s-981-2-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b s-981-2-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一◯五九·七玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1059·7 Tamahagane
    s-1059-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1059-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一◯九三·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1093·2 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一一〇五・五」= Iwasaki 1105·5 Tamahagane
    s-1105%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1105%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一二三六·六玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1236·6 Tamahagane
    s-1236-6-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1236-6-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三二◯·一玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1320·1 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三二◯·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1320·2 Tamahagane
    S 1320.2 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 1320.2 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三三七·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1337·5 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三四二·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1342·2 Tamahagane
    s-1342%c2%b72-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1342%c2%b72-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • Iwasaki 1363·1 Tamahagane
    On the box, is written 1363·1 in Arabic, and Hv 860
    (Hardened to Hv 860 on the Vickers scale = 66.3 Rockwell!)
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三六四·七玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1364·7 Tamahagane
    s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三六五·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1365·5 Tamahagane
    S 1365·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 1365·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三七四·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1374·3 Tamahagane
    s-1374%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1374%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三九五·六玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1395·6 Tamahagane
    S 1395·6 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1b S 1395·6 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1c
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一三九八·四玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1398·4 Tamahagane
    s-1398%c2%b74-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c-kopie s-1398%c2%b74-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b-kopie
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四一〇・五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1410·5 Tamahagane
    s-1410%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1410%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四三三·一玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1433·1 Tamahagane
    s-1433%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-a1 s-1433%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四五一·二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1451·2 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四四八・二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1448·2 Tamahagane
    s-1448%c2%b72-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1448%c2%b72-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四六五·一玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1465·1 Tamahagane
    S 1465·1 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 1465·1 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四六六·四玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1466·4 Tamahagane
    s-1466%c2%b74-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1466%c2%b74-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一四六八·四玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1468·4 Tamahagane
    s-1468-iwasaki-1a1 s-1468-iwasaki-1a2
    On the box, is written 1468 in Arabic, and Hv 810
    (Hardened to Hv 810 on the Vickers scale = 64,4 Rockwell)
    s-1468-iwasaki-1a3 s-1468-iwasaki-1a4
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五◯八·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1508·3 Tamahagane
    s-1508%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-a1 s-1508%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五◯八·九玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1508·9 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五一一・九玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1511·9 Tamahagane
    s-1511%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1511%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五一五・三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1515·3 Tamahagane
    S 1515·3 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 S 1515·3 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2S 1515·3 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a3
    (On the box, is written 1515·3, and Hv 815
    (Hardened to Hv 815 on the Vickers scale = around 64 Rockwell)
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五三二・九玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1532·9 Tamahagane
    s-1532%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1532%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五四◯・九玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1540·9 Tamahagane
    s-1540%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1540%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五四七・三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1547·3 Tamahagane
    s-1547%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1547%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一五七五・六玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1575·6 Tamahagane
    s-1575%c2%b76-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1575%c2%b76-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一六◯四·六玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1604·6 Tamahagane
    s-1604%c2%b76-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b-2 s-1604%c2%b76-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a-2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一六◯四·七玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1604·7 Tamahagane
    s-1604%c2%b77-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b-3 s-1604%c2%b77-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a-3
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一六◯七·八玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1607·8 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「一六一四 ・五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1614·5 Tamahagane
    s-1614%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1614%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一六五八·八玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1658·8 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一六六六·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1666·5 Tamahagane
    s-1666%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2 s-1666%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1
    On the box, is written 1666.5 in Arabic, and Hv 790
    (Hardened to Hv 790 on the Vickers scale = around 63,6 Rockwell)s-1666%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一六七六·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1676·3 Tamahagane
    s-1676%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1676%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2 s-1676%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3 (scales)
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一七二一·九玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1721·9 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一七二七·一玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1727·1 Tamahagane
    S 1727.1 Iwasaki 1a1 S 1727.1 Iwasaki 1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一七三五·七玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1735·7 Tamahagane
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一七五七・八玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1757·8 Tamahagane
    s-1757%c2%b78-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1757%c2%b78-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一七七四・一 玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1774·1 Tamahagane
    s-1774%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1774%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「一八一四・三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1814·3 Tamahagane (private collection)
    s-1814%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1814%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一八一七·三玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1817·3 Tamahagane
    s-1817-3-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1817-3-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一八一九·一玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1819·1 Tamahagane
    s-1819%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1819%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2 s-1819%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3 (scales)
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一九◯◯·五玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1900·5 Tamahagane
    s-1900%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-1900%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2s-1900%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3 (on scales:玉鋼)
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 一九◯一·六玉鋼」= Iwasaki 1901·6 Tamahagane

A peculiar something:

  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 ◯千·四二玉鋼」= Iwasaki 0 1000·42 Tamahagane
    s-%e2%97%8b%e5%8d%83-42-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1 s-%e2%97%8b%e5%8d%83-42-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2
    (“◯千” = “a thousand” or “one thousand”?)
  • 「 ㊂ 岩崎」「 ◯九八四·五玉鋼」Iwasaki 0 984·5 Tamahagane
    S 0 984·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 2a1 S 0 984·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 2a2
    I don’t know why “7” is stamped…

Western razors – Straight Razors

The Iwasaki Western straight razor isn’t manufactured anymore since the 1980’s,
the Japanese razor (kamisori) is still made though, but without serial numbers…

Besides Tamahagane razors Iwasaki also made other kinds of straight razors, for
example a 7/8 rounded square point full hollow Tamahagane straight razor, a
smaller french tip half hollow Tamahagane straight razor, a 6/8 square point full
hollow Swedish steel #90 straight razor, a shorter bladed 5/8 Swedish steel #33
straight razor etc… This diversity filled specific needs and requests raised by barbers
who collaborated with the Iwasaki workshop when they were developing their razors.
For example, the rounded square point Tamahagane straight razor was made for
barbers who felt that a real square point easier led to nicks at the tip. For others, a
pronounced square tip helped to shave the nostrils, so they kept producing the full
square point on some straight razors. They produced half hollow straight razors for
most users, barbers who tended to shave against the grain, got more comfortable,
less nicky shaves with a thicker, half hollow straight razor. Besides Tamahagane,
there also were Carbon Steel, and Swedish Steel straight razors,…

On some Iwasaki straight razors, next to the trademark ㊂  you might see an “M”.
This would indicate a razor of medium hardness. Iwasaki straight razors, especially
the Tamahagane razors, were hardened to roughly 800-820 on the Vickers scale,
or 64-64,8 Rockwell. This makes them extremely durable, but harder to hone.
Occasionally they were hardened a little bit less, for example as seen on the razor with
SN 1666.5, which was hardened to Hv 790 on the Vickers scale (around 63,6 Rockwell)

According to Mr. Iwasaki, soon after they started making razors a fundamental
social change in Japan led to a large increase in the number of women in barbering.
These women had a lot of trouble honing the larger, harder straight razors, so they started
making softer straight razors. Razors marked “M” were only hardened to 775-795 Vickers,
or roughly 63,3-63,9 Rockwell. In addition, these razors tended to have shorter blades
then the harder straight razors, making them even easier to hone.

Sometimes also a “T” is visible on the back of the tang, many say this “T” stands
for Tanifuji (Fukutarō), there are also straight razors to be found were the full name
of Mr. Tanifuji Fukutarō can be seen on the back of the tang. Tanifuji had teached
Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, he also finished the straight razors of Iwasaki (see further).

Besides “M” (M, 3M, 6M, 7M, 9M) and “T”, other lettres that can be found:
“G”, “H”(H, 9H), “V”, and possibly more…

“Tokiwa” or  “トキワ” is also something that can be seen or straight razors of Iwasaki.
Some say that “Tokiwa” was one of those who finished the straight razors of Iwasaki,
others say that is stands for “Tokiwa Shokai”,  which was one of the distributors they
made straight razors for. “Tokiwa Shokai, K.K.” was founded in 1970. The company’s
line of business includes the marketing of semifinished metal products, so maybe it
could be both…

Even the combination “Mr. Tanifuji Fukutarō” and “Tokiwa” can be found, so
maybe “Tanifuji” finished the razors, which were then distributed by “Tokiwa”…

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 222526  1-uk-flag : 101124 )

(Updated: 2017: April)
  • トキワ, ㊂岩崎 = Tokiwa Iwasaki
    iwasaki-tokiwa-3e iwasaki-tokiwa-3d
  • ㊂トキワ = Iwasaki Tokiwa, 登録商標 = tōroku shōhyō = registered trademark,
    谷藤福太郎 = Tanifuji Fukutarō)
  • 7Mトキワ, ㊂ 岩崎 = Tokiwa Iwasaki
    iwasaki-tokiwa-7m-2a1 iwasaki-tokiwa-7m-2a2
    iwasaki-tokiwa-7m-1a1 iwasaki-tokiwa-7m-1a2
  • ㊂ Iwasaki
  • 30 ㊂ 岩崎 (nothing on back tang)
    iwasaki-30-1a1 iwasaki-30-1a2
  • 30 ㊂ 岩崎, H
    iwasaki-30-h-1a1 iwasaki-30-h-1a2
  • 30 ㊂ 岩崎, 9H
    iwasaki-30-9h-1a iwasaki-30-9h-1b
  • 30 ㊂ 岩崎, M
    iwasaki-30-m-1a1 iwasaki-30-m-1b-2
  • 30 ㊂ 岩崎, V
    iwasaki-30-v-1a1 iwasaki-30-v-1a2
  • 30 ㊂ 岩崎, V (Scale carving: “N.Y. 1963”, likely this razor is made in 1963 or earlier)
    iwasaki-30-v-n-y-1963-1a1 iwasaki-30-v-n-y-1963-1a2 iwasaki-30-v-n-y-1963-1a3
  • 30 4V, ㊂ 岩崎 (Updated April ’17)
    IWASAKI 30 4V 1a1 IWASAKI 30 4V 1a2 kopie
  • 33 ㊂ 岩崎 (nothing on back tang)
    iwasaki-33-1a1 iwasaki-33-1a2
    On the box, is written 33, and Hv 785
    (Hardened to Hv 785 on the Vickers scale = around 63,4 Rockwell)
  • 33 1/2 ㊂ 岩崎 (nothing on back tang)
    iwasaki-33-12-1a1 iwasaki-33-12-1a2
  • 38 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki 上島海綿鉄
    (Ueshima kaimen tetsu = Ueshima sponge iron?)
    iwasaki-38-1a1 iwasaki-38-1a2
    (Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki’s initials are on the scales, making it older then 1967)
    On the box, is written 38, and Hv 784
    (Hardened to Hv 784 on the Vickers scale = around 63,4 Rockwell)
  • 50 ㊂ 岩崎
    On the box, is written 50, and Hv 812
    (Hardened to Hv 812 on the Vickers scale = around 64 Rockwell)
  • 50 1/2 ㊂ 岩崎 (nothing on back tang)
    On the box, is written 50, and Hv 800
    (Hardened to Hv 800 on the Vickers scale = 64 Rockwell)
  • 51 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, KAMIJO, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel) (Updated Jan. ’17)
    iwasaki-51-trade%e3%8a%82mark-iwasaki-kamijo-%e7%82%ad%e7%b4%a0%e9%8b%bc-carbon-steel-1a1 iwasaki-51-trade%e3%8a%82mark-iwasaki-kamijo-%e7%82%ad%e7%b4%a0%e9%8b%bc-carbon-steel-1a2
  • 60 レディ”Lady”, ㊂ 岩崎
    iwasaki-60-lady-2a1 iwasaki-60-lady-2a2iwasaki-60-lady-2a3
    On the box, is written 60, and Hv 770
    (Hardened to Hv 770 on the Vickers scale = around 62,9 Rockwell)
  • 70 ㊂ 岩崎 (nothing on back tang)
    iwasaki-70-1a1 iwasaki-70-1a2
  • 70 ㊂ 岩崎, G
    iwasaki-70-g-1a1 iwasaki-70-g-1a2iwasaki-70-g-1a3
    On the box, is written 70, and Hv 770
    (Hardened to Hv 770 on the Vickers scale = around 62,9 Rockwell)
  • 80 ㊂ IWASAKI (nothing on back tang)
    iwasaki-80-1a1 iwasaki-80-1a2
  • 80 1/4 ㊂ IWASAKI (nothing on back tang)
    iwasaki-80-14-1a1 iwasaki-80-14-1a2
  • 80 ㊂ 岩崎, T
    iwasaki-80-t-1a1 iwasaki-80-t-1a2iwasaki-80-t-1a3
    On the box, is written 80, and Hv 810
    (Hardened to Hv 810 on the Vickers scale = around 64,4 Rockwell)
  • 90 Iwasaki Made in Japan, ㊂
    iwasaki-90-1a1 iwasaki-90-1a2
    Iwasaki 90 2a1 Iwasaki 90 2a2
  • 90 ㊂ 岩崎, H
  • 96 Lady (レディ) (Updated July ’17)
    Iwasaki 96 Lady 1b2 Iwasaki 96 Lady 1a3Iwasaki 96 Lady 1a1
    On the box, is written 96, and Hv 810
    (Hardened to Hv 810 on the Vickers scale = around 64,4 Rockwell)
  • 101 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, KAMIJO, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel) (Updated April ’17)
    IWASAKI 101 1a1
    IWASAKI 101 1a2
  • 805 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    iwasaki-805-carbon-steel-1a1 iwasaki-805-carbon-steel-1a2
  • ㊂ 岩崎, made of Carbon steel (nothing on back tang)
Update, ’17, April:

Coincidence or not, the razors with KAMIJO have a “1” at the end of the number (51, 101)

A few special ones:

  • Iwasaki SKH 房総 (Bōsō)
    iwasaki-skh-boso-1a1 iwasaki-skh-boso-1a2
  •  房総 (Bōsō), レディ(“Redi” = Lady)
    iwasaki-boso-lady-1a1 iwasaki-boso-lady-1a2

(Ref.:  1-japan-flag : 26 )

  • (Update, ’17, Nov, thank you “ovidiucotiga !)

    There also exists 房総 (Bōsō) razors, made by Kamijō Yukio
    (of which we know he worked with Iwasaki):
    Kamijo BOSO 1a2 Kamijo BOSO 1a1
    FRONT of tang: 房総 (Bōsō)
    BACK:上条幸夫作 = Kamijo Yukio saku, made by Kamijo Yukio

  • (Update, ’17, Sept)
    Iwasaki 岩崎 三条製作所 三◯ ? 1a1 Iwasaki 岩崎 三条製作所 三◯ ? 1a2

 Western razors – Straight Razors
‘Who could have made those (Tamahagane) straight razors and when?’

It is very difficult to know who exactly made a particular razor, except in the case
a stamp「玉鋼 ㊂ 重義」”Tamahagane ㊂ Shigeyoshi” is present, in that case it obviously
was made by Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki.

Reading of the text above, the following can be extracted: 

During college, or shortly after, Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki started a prototype research of the Western razor,
this in cooperation with a barber.
After the war, in 1946 (his son Shigeyoshi was 13y old), Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki established Sanjō Works,
which made the world famous Iwasaki Razors right after WWII.

Some sources say that Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki himself didn’t make razors,
others say the opposite…

In the past, many sword makers did also make kamisori. “Sanjō Works” was
established by Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki in 1946, because of this, I do believe he could have
made the first Tamahagane kamisori at “Sanjō Works“. In 1946, being only 13y old,
his son, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki couldn’t make kamisori by then.

Combining the theoretical study of father Kōsuke, and the practical blacksmith technology mastered by Shigeyoshi,
in 1954 (Shigeyoshi was 21y old) they succeed in the development of the Western razor made of Tamahagane steel.

Because Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki, although he was a sword maker, presumably had little to
non experience as a blacksmith and had send Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki to be an apprentice with several master blacksmiths, it is possible that Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki didn’t make the
Western type straight razors, though he did the research. Still, maybe he did make the Western type straight razors after all, or at least helped making them…

Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki approached Master Tanifuji (Fukutarō) to train the Iwasaki
family in razor finishing and scaling. Before this, at Iwasaki’s request, Mr. Kamijō Yukio
moved his equipment to Iwasaki’s forge and taught them all he knew about how to
hand forge and grind razors. He worked together with Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki and finished most of the early Iwasaki razors. So this all would have happened in the beginning of the production of Iwasaki’s Tamahagane Western straight razor,
around 1954. There haven’t been Kamijō razors made after 1965 (昭和40年),
so this would be before 1965. (Kamijō Yukio)

(Ref.:  1-uk-flag : 1127 )

Previously shown Tamahagane straight razors with SN 213·5, 272·3, 636·2 all
have 岩崎 (Iwasaki) and 上條 (Kamijo) stamps「 岩崎 ·上條」; they are therefore undoubtably early straight razors, not only because they have low serial numbers,
also because Mr. Kamijo was involved.

Now, there are differences to observe between the different “Iwasaki stamps”
on Tamahagane straight razors:

S 272.3 Iwasaki Kamijo Tamahagane 1a1 kopie272.3 S 409·3 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane a1 kopie409·3 S 523·1 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1b kopie523·1  S 617·6 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1b 2 kopie 2617·6
S 636.2 Iwasaki Kamijo Tamahagane 1a 1a1 kopie636·2 S 644.8 Iwasaki Kamijo Tamahagane 1a1 kopie644·8
S 707·7 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1b1 kopie707·7  S 729·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a1 kopie729·5

The “Iwasaki stamp”, seen on Tamahagane straight razors with SR 707·7 & 729·5
belongs to Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, since several razors of which we’re sure were
made by Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki himself all have this kind of “Iwasaki stamp”.
They all are accompanied with the ㊂ mark as well.

More earlier Tamahagane straight razors have different “Iwasaki stamps”…

The “Iwasaki stamp” seen on Tamahagane straight razors with SR 272.3, 409·3, 523·1, 617·6, all have about the same kind of “Iwasaki stamp”. They all have an extra “dot”
stamped at the right of the “Iwasaki stamp”, which seems to be missing on the later
SR 636·2, 707·7 & 729·5,…  razors. The “Iwasaki stamp” on SR 636·2 & 644·8 though
seems to be different though then SR 707·7 & 729·5,…

SR 636·2 & 644·8 doesn’t have a ㊂ mark, as well as the ones with SR lower then 636·2…

At the moment, there are 3 types of “Iwasaki stamps” to distinguish:

  • SR 272.3, 409·3, 523·1, 617·6, without ㊂ mark
  • SR 636·2, 644·8 without ㊂ mark
  • SR 707·7 & 729·5 & higher, with ㊂ mark

because of the combination of:

  • the presence of both 岩崎 (Iwasaki) and 上條 (Kamijo) stamps「 岩崎 ·上條」,
  • the low serial numbers, therefore undoubtably being early
    Tamahagane straight razors,
  • the absence of the ㊂ mark,
  • the differences in the “Iwasaki stamp” compared to the known Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki stamp,

the “Iwasaki stamp” on SR 272.3, 409·3, 523·1, 617·6 belongs to Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki

So, possibly Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki could have been active in the making of Western straight razors.

The “Iwasaki stamp” on Tamahagane straight razors with SR 707·7 & 729·5 and later, belongs to Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki, and are accompanied with the ㊂ mark, whilst the
first Tamahagane razors, with a Kamijo stamp & presumably made by Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki didn’t have a ㊂ mark.

Remains the “Iwasaki stamp” on Tamahagane straight razor with SR 636·2 & 644·8,
without ㊂ mark, but with上條 (Kamijo) stamp!

Could this be an early “Iwasaki stamp” of Mr. Ryouichi Mizuochi 水落 良市氏,
who had joined the company in 1961…? Or is this an early stamp of
Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki? Or…?

If all this is correct, then possibly the ㊂ mark started to get in use since Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki took over the business, around 1963-1967 (when his father Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki got sick and passed away). This would fit with the fact that Kamijo stopped making razors in 1965! (Kamijō Yukio)

These 炭素鋼 “carbon steel” straight razors have a ㊂ mark,
and in Western lettres ‘KAMIJO’:

  • 51 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, KAMIJO, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    iwasaki-51-trade%e3%8a%82mark-iwasaki-kamijo-%e7%82%ad%e7%b4%a0%e9%8b%bc-carbon-steel-1a1  iwasaki-51-trade%e3%8a%82mark-iwasaki-kamijo-%e7%82%ad%e7%b4%a0%e9%8b%bc-carbon-steel-1a2
  • 101 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, KAMIJO, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    IWASAKI 101 1a1
    IWASAKI 101 1a2

The younger ones don’t have ‘KAMIJO’ anymore:

  • 805 Trade㊂Mark Iwasaki, 炭素鋼 (Carbon steel)
    iwasaki-805-carbon-steel-1a1  iwasaki-805-carbon-steel-1a2

Since ‘KAMIJO’ is written here in Western lettres, I wonder if these are from
the end of Kamijo’s career, working with Iwasaki. We know that Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki first worked with Mr. Kamijo before he retired, Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki then worked
with Master Tanifuji (Fukutarō)

This could fit with the theory that it was Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki who began to use
the ㊂ mark…

Since Master Tanifuji retired at the age of 79, around 1973, and Mr. Kōsuke / Shigeyoshi Iwasaki first worked with Mr. Kamijo, the coöperation between Mr. Kōsuke / Shigeyoshi Iwasaki & Mr. Kamijo must have started well before 1973;


  • “Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki approached … Master Tanifuji (Fukutarō), to train the Iwasaki family in razor finishing and scaling…”,
  • Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki passed away in August, 1967,
  • Mr. Kamijo worked with Iwasaki before Mr. Tanifuji,
  • Mr. Kamijo stopped making razors in 1965,
  • → This would mean that razors with both Iwasaki’s & Kamijo’s signatures
    must be made ≥1954 – 1965.

Western razors – Straight Razors
‘Different Tamahagane symbols’

1b s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1a s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1b1c s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1-kopie s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie

The Tamahagane symbol 1b on straight razors, being of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki,
remains the same until serial number “1342·2“. After this, somewhere between
serial number “1342·2” & “1364·7“, although the Iwasaki sign remains the same,
a subtle change is visible in the Tamahagane symbol 1c (look at the 玉):

Strangely enough, the 1b symbol appears back again in the course if time…

Here is a line up (with SN – Serial Number):

213·5,     272·3,    523·1,   617·6,  636·2, 707·7, 729·5,  820·4,    932·4,    981·2,
s-213-5-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-272-3-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-523%c2%b71-iwasaki-kamiju-tamahagane-1c S 617·6 Iwasaki Kamiju Tamahagane 1c 2 kopie s-636-2-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a-1a1c-kopie S 707·7 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1b3 kopie S 729·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a4 s-820-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c-kopie s-981-2-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c-kopie
1059·7, 1105·5, 1236·6, 1337·5,  1342·2,  1364·7, 1365·5, 1374·3, 1395·61398·4,  1410·5,
s-1059-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c-kopie s-1105%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1236-6-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie SONY DSC s-1342%c2%b72-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3 !s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie! S 1365·5 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a2 kopie.jpg s-1374%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie  !S 1395·6 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1c kopie.jpg! !s-1398%c2%b74-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b-kopie-2! s-1410%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie
1433·1, 1448·2,1465·1,1466·4, 1468·4, 1508·3, 1508·9, 1511·9,1515·3, 1532·9, 1540·9,
s-1433%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-a2-kopie s-1448%c2%b72-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie S 1465·1 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a3 kopie.JPG s-1466%c2%b74-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1468-4-iwasaki-1a2-kopie s-1508%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-a2-kopie SONY DSC !s-1511%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3! !S 1515·3 Iwasaki Tamahagane 1a4 kopies-1532%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1540%c2%b79-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie    
1547·3, 1575·6, 1604·6, 1604·7, 1607·8,  1614·5,  1658·8, 1666·5,  1676·3,
s-1547%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1575%c2%b76-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a3 s-1604%c2%b76-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a-2-kopie s-1604%c2%b77-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a-3-kopie SONY DSC s-1614%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie SONY DSC !s-1666%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1-kopie!  s-1676%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a4
1721·9, 1727·1, 1735·7, 1757·8, 1774·1,  1817·3,  1814·3,  1819·1,  1900·5,  1901·6
SONY DSC S 1727.1 Iwasaki 1a2 kopie SONY DSC !s-1757%c2%b78-iwasaki-tamahagane-1b-kopie! s-1774%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1c-kopie s-1817-3-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1814%c2%b73-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1819%c2%b71-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a4-kopie s-1900%c2%b75-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopie s-1901-6-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1-kopie

I have no clue why the 玉 has changed through time though…

So, in the end (if correctly, I’m not sure!) the different signs/marks would be:

Kamijō Yukio s-636-2-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a-1a1b s-636-2-iwasaki-kamijo-tamahagane-1a-1a1c-kopie    Kōsuke Iwasaki 409-1-iwasaki-hancho-gake-1a1
Shigeyoshi Iwasaki s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1a     Shigeyoshi Iwasaki(?)  1153%e3%83%bb13-iwasaki1d (or Ryoichi Mizuochi?)


Also the boxes displays different styles of stamps (aside = stamp on razor):

玉鋼 Tamahagane kamisori:
K 16.81 H? K? Iwasake Tamahagane 1a1 Box.png k-16-81-h-k-iwasake-tamahagane-1a1 (SN 16·81)  iwasaki-kamisori-tamahagane-shigeyoshi-2a1 iwasaki-kamisori-tamahagane-shigeyoshi-2a2 (岩崎作, made by (Shigeyoshi) Iwasaki)
SONY DSC SONY DSC (重義, Shigeyoshi) iwasaki-kamisori-tamahagane-shigeyoshi-4a1 iwasaki-kamisori-tamahagane-shigeyoshi-4a2 (岩崎作, made by (Shigeyoshi) Iwasaki)
tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-1a2 tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-1a1 (刀匠, sword smith 重義, Shigeyoshi)
tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-2a1 tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-2a2 (重義, Shigeyoshi)

Kamisori (Swedish – carbon steel):
iwasaki-kamisori-50mm-jns-1a1 iwasaki-kamisori-50mm-jns-1a2       iwasaki-kamisori-2a iwasaki-kamisori-2a1 iwasaki-kamisori-2b      iwasaki-kamisori-shigeyoshi-1a1 iwasaki-kamisori-shigeyoshi-1a2
iwasaki-kamisori-3a1 iwasaki-kamisori-3a2 iwasaki-kamisori-3a3 (別打 = betsuuchi / betsuda = specially made/forged)

Kiridashi, made by Shigeyoshi Iwasaki

(with signature of Mr. Shigeyoshi Iwasaki on attached paper):
岩崎 = Iwasaki
重義 = Shigeyoshi

iwasakikiridashi-1b iwasakikiridashi-1a1 iwasakikiridashi-1c-kopie     kiridashi-2a1kiridashi-2a2     kiridashi-3a1kiridashi-3a2   kiridashi-4a1kiridashi-4a2

It is clear that Shigeyoshi Iwasaki used different stamps.
He used s-932-4-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1b & s-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a2-kopies-1364-7-iwasaki-tamahagane-1a1-kopie as well as iwasaki-kamisori-tamahagane-shigeyoshi-2a2, and even tamahagane-iwasaki-shigeyoshi-1a1

There are also 2 kinds of red stamps:
the cubical one reads
岩崎重義 (Shigeyoshi Iwasaki),
the round one reads 岩崎 (Iwasaki)
iwasakikiridashi-1a1 iwasaki-kamisori-3a1-kopie kiridashi-3a1-kopie

To finish, a couple of special items:

Sometimes the name “Shiozawa Tadaaki” can be seen on kamisori:
  • 玉鋼  ㊂岩崎   FF , 塩澤忠明作 = made by Master Shiozawa Tadaaki
    SONY DSCiwasaki-tamahagane-45mm-ff-shiozawa-tadaaki-1a2-jpg
  • 玉鋼  ㊂岩崎   HH , 塩澤忠明作 = made by Master Shiozawa Tadaaki
    SONY DSCiwasaki-tamahagane-45mm-hh-shiozawa-tadaaki-1a2

When comparing for instance the FF with a regular Iwasaki kamisori,
there is clearly a large piece that is filed away, it seems to be a restoration
iwasaki-tamahagane-45mm-ff-shiozawa-tadaaki-1a2-jpg-kopie iwasaki-tamahagane-back-kopie

Also, comparing the heel towards the handle, you see a notch were the jimps begin
SONY DSC iwasaki-tamahagane-back-and-front-1c-kopie

So, Master Shiozawa Tadaaki most probably restored or altered these kamisori, placed jimps on the tang, made a pivot hole and scaled them, it is unclear if it was commissioned by Iwasaki or not, also it is unclear why these 2 razors have “King Pelican” scales…

(Ref.:  1-uk-flag : 3031)

A few special Tamahagane steel kamisori with unique stamps:
tamahagane-kobayashi-iwasaki-1c1 玉鋼 小林  ㊂岩崎 (Tamahagane Kobayashi  ㊂ Iwasaki)

tamahagane-abe-iwasaki-1b1 玉鋼  阿部  ㊂岩崎 (Tamahagane  Abe/Abu/Ahe   ㊂ Iwasaki)

I have no idea what the meaning is of “Kobayashi” or “Abe/Abu/Ahe“…

(Updated, 2017, Nov)

Iwasaki Betsu uchi 'Useless' 2
Iwasaki Betsu uchi 'Useless' 1b1
Iwasaki Betsu uchi 'Useless' 1a1 A very strange Iwasaki Tamahagane Kamisori where the stamps
are struck, besides on the blade, on the handle as well!
Also there is a Betsuuchi stamp (別打 = betsuuchi / betsuda = specially made/forged).
The owner refers it as ‘useless and can not be used’,
I don’t know if this kamisori was damaged and that is why it is useless, or if it was
not shave-ready, or if this make is just useless… I have never seen one like it…

Iwasaki almost never made a straight razor with kamisori style.
The ones seen on ebay, etc. originally were kamisori that
afterwards got a pivot hole and scales…

One exception:
iwasaki-straight-kamisori-style iwasaki-straight-kamisori-style-1a1Iwasaki kamisori,
scaled like a western straight. Apparently the only one in the entire world…
You can see the differences between a normal kamisori, especially the tang, which
is more straight, thicker, just like a regular straight razor

(Ref.:  1-uk-flag : 32 )

Iwasaki even made frame back razors:

Tang, spine:

Spine, blade with ㊂ symbol:


(SRP/J-Nat club)
Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki and Mr. Nagayuki Asano developed a quality-control system
for grading and authenticating Mikawa Nagura. He also did research of some well
renowned mines like Nakayama.

Apparently, when Iwasaki started making Tamahagane straight razors some barbers
had trouble honing them and blamed it on the razor. Mr. Kōsuke Iwasaki researched
the way barbers honed, which type of steel, temper & geometry they preferred. He
soon found out many barbers didn’t know how to hone properly, using far to much pressure or not using the stones correctly. Soon after he wrote his booklet ”Honing razors and Nihon kamisori’s”, stamped Maruka’s came to the market, to provide a sample of quality of what stones should be used for his razors.

There exists large bench size stones stamped Iwasaki & Maruka, also Nagura’s.

So, Iwasaki was involved with stones as well, as following examples show:

  • Tomo nagura:
    X, Stones Tomo 1a X, Stones Tomo 1bX, Stones Tomo 1c X, Stones Tomo 1e
    X, Stones Tomo 1c1 X, Stones Tomo 1e1
    (?)本用 = (?) Hon yō
    共ナグラ用 = kyō Nagura-yō = Use as tomo Nagura (?)
    ㋕ 正 本 山 = Maruka Shō Honyama (Nakayama)
    小型本山 = Kogata Honyama = Small size Honyama
    TRADE㊂Mark 三条製作所 = Sanjō seisakusho = Sanjō factory
    Blue stamps:
    ㋕ 正 本 山 = Maruka shō Honyama (Nakayama)
    純眞正本山 = Jun Makoto Shō Honyama = Pure Authentic Honyama (Nakayama)
  •  Blue powder Rust remover:

青粉 岩崎 1a

青粉 岩崎 1b

青粉 岩崎 1c

特撰 = Toku sen = Special
さびおとし = Sabi otoshi = Rust removal
TRADE㊂Mark 三条製作所 = Sanjō seisakusho = Sanjō factory

高級研磨材 = Kōkyū kenma-zai = High grade abrasive
青粉 = Aoko = Blue powder
三条製作所 = Sanjō seisakusho = Sanjō factory
岩崎 = Iwasaki

‘A price chart from 1963’

A price chart from 1963 (昭和38年)
(from レーザーと日本剃刀の研ぎ方(岩崎航介),
“How to sharpen razor and kamisori” (Tosuke Iwasaki)):

Price chart 1963(blogs.yahoo.co.jp/yukensandesu)

Price of  Iwasaki’s (岩崎):
玉鋼レーザー (Tamahagane Western straight razor): 三五◯ ◯円 = 3500 Yen
玉鋼日本剃刀 (Tamahagane Japanese razor or kamisori): 六◯ ◯円 = 600 Yen
三十番レーザー (Western straight razor No. 30) = 一七◯ ◯円 = 1700 Yen
炭素鋼日本剃刀 (Carbon Steel Japanese razor or kamisori): 四三◯円 = 430 Yen

It can be noticed that the Tamahagene Western straight razors were about
6 times as expensive as the Tamahagene kamisori, , 3500 Yen against 600 Yen.
Of course the latter had also about 6 times less Tamahagane steel.
The Carbon Steel kamisori variant was a little bit cheaper then the Tamahagane ones,
430 Yen against 600 Yen.
The “Lady” type straight razors, for example the Western straight razor No. 30
were a lot cheaper then the Tamahagene Western straight razors, 1700 Yen against 3500 Yen,
the first weren’t made of Tamahagane of course.


I’ve used different sources to gather the information:

(1) kajidojo.com/meister/sanjoseisakusyo/ 1-japan-flag
(2) http://straightrazorplace.com/razors/49602-after-japanese-straight.html 1-uk-flag
(3) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/1999/08/14/arts/forging-ahead-into-the-new-millennium/#.WBbC9zJSqHo  1-uk-flag
(4) http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=38224 1-uk-flag
(5) http://www.rasurpur.de/english/shop/wakamisori/wakamisori.html 1-uk-flag
(6) http://www.kakuri.co.jp/iwasaki/titi.html 1-japan-flag
(7) http://www.kakuri.co.jp/iwasaki/titi2.html 1-japan-flag
(8) http://www.kakuri.co.jp/iwasaki/profile.html 1-japan-flag
(9) http://aframestokyo.com/iwasaki-tokiwa-straight-razor-76mm-high-carbon-steel-blade-made-by-t76.html 1-uk-flag
(10) http://aframestokyo.com/iwasaki–tamahagane-63mm-blade-8942–scalpture-straight638942.html 1-uk-flag
(11) http://easternsmooth.com/blog/jim-rion/2011/06/13/269-iwasaki-sensei-lessons-learned-part-2.html 1-uk-flag
(12) http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/iwasaki-kamisori-60mm/ 1-uk-flag
(13) http://japanese-whetstones.com/products/nos-iwasaki-tamahagane-western-straight-razor-private-reserve 1-uk-flag
(14) http://www.munemasa.co.jp/english/jp_blade/1803-202.htm 1-uk-flag
(15) kajidojo.com/origin/ 1-uk-flag & 1-japan-flag
(16) http://bernalcutlery.lightspeedwebstore.com/kitchen-knives-japanese-iwasaki-iwasaki-50mm-shirogami-no2-kamisori-razor/dp/1850 1-uk-flag
(17) http://www.munemasa.co.jp/hpgen/HPB/categories/34767.html 1-japan-flag
(18) http://hides-export.blogspot.be/2011/04/iwasaki-and-jnats-part-one.html 1-uk-flag
(19) http://www.sanjo-cci.or.jp/retuden/retuden0711.htm 1-japan-flag
(20) http://www.stripersonline.com/surftalk/topic/198935-looking-for-a-high-quality-mid-price-sashimi-knife/ 1-uk-flag
(21) http://artofsharp.com/styled-3/index.html 1-uk-flag
(22) http://seiyoukamisoridaizen.blog.so-net.ne.jp/index/4 1-japan-flag
(23) http://kamisorinotomo.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2015-03-01 1-japan-flag
(24) http://www.razorandstone.com/showthread.php?1950-Iwasaki 1-uk-flag
(25) http://kamisorinotomo.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2014-11-15-1 1-japan-flag
(26) http://seiyoukamisoridaizen.blog.so-net.ne.jp/archive/c2305613216-1 1-japan-flag
(27) http://straightrazorplace.com/razors/94804-tamahagane-nihon-kamisori-2.html 1-uk-flag
(28) http://nagura.t.mepage.jp/newpage8.htm 1-japan-flag
(29) http://straightrazorplace.com/razor-clubs/30543-japanese-straights-19.html 1-uk-flag
(30) http://aframestokyo.com/iwasaki-tamahagane-45mm-ff-straight-razor-made-by-shiozawa-tadaa45.html 1-uk-flag
(31) http://aframestokyo.com/iwasaki-tamahagane-45mm-hh-straight-razor-made-by-shiozawa-tadaa45.html 1-uk-flag
(32) http://easternsmooth.com/blog/jim-rion/2011/05/29/271-been-and-gone-sanjou-city-post-3-mini-blade-museum.html 1-uk-flag

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