Understanding Limits

13 Apr

For whatever reason, a lot of people come to me with questions about the topics I discuss here, namely razors and stones. In particular, I get a lot of specific requests in regards to identifying Japanese hones. I am by nature a person who likes to help whenever I can, so I don't really like to say no. However, it is important to recognize the limits of what I can do.

Perhaps the most common request I get is "What can you tell me about the stone in this picture?" The answer, unfortunately, is almost always "Very little." Of course, if there are any legible stamps I can usually identify them--and this can often be quite helpful. Also, if the picture you take is fairly close to the real color of the stone (which is not as easy as it sounds), I can usually tell you the Japanese name for the color. But anything more than that is really pushing it. There are a few people out there who can tell things like mountain or seam by looking at a stone, but even they tend to use "probably," rather than "definitely," and all of them have decades of experience working with and identifying stones. I do not. I can, occasionally, tell a suita? by looking because they have a very particular look, but apart form that I have very little idea what I'm looking at.

Then, of course, is the "is this a good stone?" question. Unless there are large, obvious flaws--which anyone can see--this question simply can not be answered from a picture. All of the various factors that go into making a good stone are basically invisible. Sure, some people find kiita? stones to be softer than asagi?, which is a visible pattern, but this is by no means an absolute. So again, a picture can tell me nothing about it.

I guess what I'm getting at is, I'm more than happy to tell you what I can about any particular Japanese stone you have, but please keep in mind that there are a lot of things that I can't tell you at all. Don't be disappointed.

Comments

Understood.

It can get overwhelming, especially when there aren't many people knowledgeable in this area to ask.

N.

I understand

N,

Thanks as always for your kind comment.

I can totally understand the problem, which I indeed suffer from myself. I am closer to the source than most, I know, but Kyoto is still a long trip. To be perfectly honest, that is why I started putting so much about stones on the blog, because I want people to have some resource to turn to with questions like these.

I don't want anyone to think their questions aren't welcome, I just want people to know what I can and can't do.

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