Japanese Knife

What Makes Shapton Ceramic Whetstone Different from Others?

Shapton whetstones are popular among professionals in Japan. They have several outstanding features that set them apart from other whetstones. I have one of these (not “Ha No Kuromaku” but one for home use) and love using it because I am in love with its features.

In this post, I’ll introduce three features that set Shapton whetstones (for example, Ha No Kuromaku) apart from the rest.

Sharpen right away

In general, whetstones cannot be used immediately. Before sharpening a knife, the whetstone must be soaked in water for about 20 minutes until no air bubbles appear.

Shapton whetstones, however, are less porous and can be used immediately, eliminating this time. All you have to do is pour water on it.

Less worn out

Compared to ordinary whetstones, Shapton’s whetstones are far less worn. This has many advantages.

  • Can be used over the long term
  • The sharpening surface does not distort, so it can be sharpened evenly.
  • Less frequently needs to be corrected for whetstones

Quick to sharpen

Shapton whetstones contain a large amount of abrasives, they have excellent grinding power and can sharpen knives in a short time.

Other advantages include:

  • No odor on the whetstone and no transfer of odor to foodstuffs.
  • The container can be used as a non-slip sharpening table.
  • Many types available.

Trivia note 1: The Shapton company is located in Mashiko Town, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. Mashiko has historically been famous for its pottery, called Mashiko ware. It is interesting to note that a pottery town produced a technologically superior ceramic whetstone.

Trivia note 2: What does the product name “Ha No Kuromaku” mean? “Kuromaku (黒幕)” means eminence grise. In other words, it means a person who manipulates the highest authority in politics behind the scenes. “Ha (刃)” means blade.

Taken together, “Ha No Kuromaku” means that the name is that of the actor behind the blade’s superior function.

Types to buy

Shapton whetstones are available in numerous types, color-coded according to roughness. There are rought whetstones to correct chipping of the blade and fine-grained whetstones for finishing to achieve a mirror-like surface.

However, it is difficult to purchase several of them, so my recommendation is to purchase the orange #1000 first.

Although it is a medium whetstone, it is reputed to sharpen so well that a rough whetstone is unnecessary. This one type can achieve a sharp cutting edge.

If you are particular about the finish, I recommend purchasing an additional purple #5000.

See also:
Ultimate Guide to Buying Authentic Japanese Knives

SHAPTON official website (in English)