Japanese Stone Colors, a Visual Glossary

Discussion in 'Straight Razors' started by Steve56, Aug 4, 2022.

  1. Steve56

    Steve56 Hone Hoarder

    I composed this post for my friends on another forum who were atruggling a bit with the Japanese color names and what they looked like, and thought that people here might find it useful too.

    The first three images are kiita, which means ‘yellow board’ in English, because they thought that the stones looked like pieces of yellow pine. Most Japanese stone colors and patterns are named after things in nature.

    The first image shows stones that I will call ‘true kiita’, my own term that just means a stone that’s mostly yellow. There are all sorts of shades and variations as you will see. The reason that I coined the term is that kiita is a valuable color, and sellers many times try to sell many light colored stones as kiita that are not yellow. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you aren’t paying a premium for a stone that is not yellow.

    The second image is reddish kiita, and of course red and yellow make orange, which is a very attractive color. Some people might call these iromono or iro (multicolored) and some do have other colors mixed in.

    The third image is what’s commonly called lime kiita, a yellow stone with a hint of green which gives them a colder but very attractive color.

    7B07E32A-88B6-41D3-B445-FD4E3EBEF3C1.jpeg 485DD941-28C8-4D25-9C13-B83E97245031.jpeg 52D9531A-C3E1-40DE-8496-1C7443B544A8.jpeg
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2022
    Karl G, PLANofMAN and TestDepth like this.
  2. Steve56

    Steve56 Hone Hoarder

    The first image below is what a Japanese seller calls ‘withered’ color and says that it’s frequently typical of Nakayama, which I cannot vouch for. These color stones are a light tan or light brown, but unlike kiita there is no yellow in them. It’s a very nice color because you can see how quickly the slurry turns black or the swarf builds.

    The second image is habutae color or close to it, which is a fine kimono silk used for the best kimono. It’s typically white or eggshell color. Many times this color is associated with the suita layer stones, but these two are not suita. They’re essentially colorless or neutral stones that are near white. Habutae is also a valuable color so sellers take liberty when describing their wares.

    The third and fourth images are iromono, also called iro for short and means multicolored.

    46CF0BC2-232F-433E-BC4D-CF93AC082244.jpeg D135A6C0-6C05-4F1F-848A-09209195DAD6.jpeg 9F2400A0-8C86-41BD-A8AD-BA115C4C1782.jpeg 9A0BB694-C19D-4F8E-B855-8A31DF0FBA2B.jpeg
    Karl G and TestDepth like this.
  3. Steve56

    Steve56 Hone Hoarder

    The first image below is what’s called a ‘seaweed’ color, it’s a mostly greenish brown (or brownish green). It can have a little yellow thrown in too, but I would not call it kiita.

    The second image is murasaki, or strawberry color, and this one lives up to it’s name.

    Finally, karasu means ‘crow’ in English, and is a pattern rather than a color, but it’s frequently talked about with colors so I’ll post it here. The pattern reminded them of crows flying against a grey sky. Classic karasu frequently comes from a deeper layer and are frequently hard and fine, good razor finishers.

    Aa word of warning about karasu stones: this is also a desirable and expensive pattern, and many times the layer of ‘crows’ is very thin, sometimes almost paper thin over a solid grey stone. What you don’t want to do is pay an inflated price for the pattern, lap it a few times and end up with a grey stone that’s worth 10% of what you paid for it. You can many times see the edges of the ‘crows on the sides, which gives you a visual clue of how deep the crow layer runs into the stone.

    9D86FAAC-4825-4FD6-9B39-D8B5D1B96A0D.jpeg 53ACD7ED-83C2-4E2E-9378-06590324297D.jpeg 3F17B0FA-FB00-49D0-B122-E04CABEB5C25.jpeg
    Karl G, PLANofMAN and TestDepth like this.
  4. Steve56

    Steve56 Hone Hoarder

    First image, ‘green plate’, second image, asagi (blueish).

    I hope these posts can help people who are just heading down the JNat path.

    77C6ECEA-6C32-4529-8616-734820586734.jpeg 39B1D942-9FB7-4A86-8C88-6817D73B473E.jpeg
    Karl G, PLANofMAN and TestDepth like this.
  5. TestDepth

    TestDepth Well-Known Member

    First… absolutely gorgeous stones!
    And more importantly, thanks for sharing your knowledge Steve… always a pleasure reading your posts.
    Karl G and Steve56 like this.
  6. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector

    Article Team
    Great post! But... when are we going to talk about the face in the stone?
    Karl G and Steve56 like this.
  7. Steve56

    Steve56 Hone Hoarder

    Thank you Tom and Ryan, glad to help!
    Karl G likes this.

Share This Page