10-10-2019, 01:27 PM
  • DanLaw
  • Just an old slow fat man
  • Peachtree City, GA
User Info
This is my second exposure to offerings from Tatara; the appropriately named Masamune Nodachi DE razor with the Nodachi SB and original Masamune OC baseplate to serve as basis for comparison.  Relatively unknown in the US, Tatara is a small Portuguese based company founded by 3 friends with mechanical engineering education and an appreciation for Japanese swordsmith craftsmanship.  The goal was to apply their engineering acumen and love of all things samurai to improve double edge razors in craftsmanship, design, ergonomics and technology.  Focusing on minimizing blade vibration through a unique fastening system, perpendicularity of the head to handle and tight tolerances they have achieved a classic, dare I state minimalist aesthetique in keeping with traditional Japanese design and a truly unique razor.  

The Masamune (正宗) line is named after the greatest swordsmith in Ancient Japanese history from Sagami Province producing blades in the latter Kamakura period.  Of such renown were his swords that the most prestigious award for swordmaking, the Masamune Prize, is awarded at the Japanese Sword Making Competition to this very day (but only to a worthy candidate so not annually).  Masamunesan's swords have a reputation for superior beauty and quality, which was no small feat in that steels were far from pure during his reign.  A hallmark of his swords is the nie () finish, arising from martensitic crystals embedded in a pearlite matrix resulting from the tempering process and said to resemble stars in a night sky.  Nodachi (野太刀) refers to a long sword approximately 0,9m used by unmounted samurai in open field battles (particularly against cavalry).  The sheaved swords are often depicted as being slung across the back, as they were too long to be worn on the waist and the technique primarily employed was downward slashes - think Kendo.  These swords were exceedingly difficult to create due to the length requiring special tooling and advanced expert technique to heat and cool to the consistency required; even honing was accomplished uniquely by hanging the sword versus drawing across stones - one had to be quite accomplished and wealthy to afford such a weapon.  The reason for this brief history lesson will become apparent in the review that follows. 
                  Purity is something that cannot be attained except by piling effort upon effort 
                                                                                              Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
The first thing one notices is that the packaging screams low volume craftsmanship.  While simply boxed in high-grade paperboard and - in an homage to Portuguese heritage - beautiful cork insert, the impression is one of low volume handmade craftsmanship with a nice touch of marketing sizzle.  Inside rests the most uniquely finished steel razor I have encountered; the finish has a texture and appearance imparted from the sandblasting that is so strikingly different that many of the design features are easily overlooked.  Were one to describe it, the best I can offer is it is derivative of the colour and texture of the frame/casing finish of Ducati Reparto Corse superbikes of the 90s and early 2000s.  This is the nie finish effect alluded to above and almost worth the price of admission alone.  As one stares transfixed by the finish and almost afraid to touch the razor for fear of disturbing such a unique piece of kit, other obvious design details begin to make an impression: that of being quintessentially traditionally Japanese in the sense of the simplistic elegance reminiscent of the feudal samurai weaponry that presents an aura of fragility belying its inherent strength and capability.  If the soul of the samurai is the blade, then the soul of Tatara is the blade holder.  

Once beyond the initial visual impression, differences from the original Masamune become apparent: for one, the handle is half-dimpled, half-smooth AND NOTICIBLY LONGER at 105mm.  Handling the razor brings a sense of wielding the longer nodachi versus a katana and to my hands is an improvement: irrespective, the lightness and tactile sensations are almost overwhelming being markedly different from anything else used to date whether the unique handle designs of traditional SE and DE razors, the OneBlade or even the original Masamune.  Nothing approaches how the finish, slim handle, dimpling and weight distribution of Tatara's designs synergistically interact in a positive manner to remind the user that their razors are something unique.  Having acclimated to the look and feel of the razor in hand, the next obvious design element is the retention of a flat stack height of the baseplate cap assembly which promises maneuverability and is a welcome change from the bulbous nature of recent design trends that result in making tight areas, such as around the nostrils, difficult to access.  Gone is the low stress riser/shouldered fastener cap but the Nodachi retains the recessed handle protruding through the baseplate obviously apparent as one tightens the head assembly and thankfully providing one of the most vibration free blade feels on the market.  The shouldered top cap thread was dropped to permit users opting for different handles from other manufacturers, which to my mind would be a mistake - this is a concept razor based on principles of traditional Japanese craftsmanship and design that may have quirks but loses much in translation if not experienced as a unique whole.  One element missing that should be addressed by Tatara would be to offer a nylon spacer to fill the gap between the top cap thread and baseplate eliminating lateral misalignment and movement when employing an aftermarket handle.  All 3 baseplates offered by Tatara seamlessly work the Nodachi handle and cap with the standard Nodachi SB being significantly more efficient yet skin friendly regarding the bar design than either the original Masamune OC and very much more efficient than the original Masamune SB.  The original stand design, a simple semi hemispherical beauty complementing the execution of the handle, integrates and completes the full kit should one desire to be immersed in the entirety of the design theme which, as alluded, is a signature element.  Assembled and presented, the Tatara Masamune Nodachi is even more elegant and tastefully presented than the original Masamune.  While this may be a matter of small importance, in keeping with the samurai ethos, matters of small concern should be treated seriously per Yamamoto Tsunetomo in
Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.

Having experimented with various blades in quick succession, I settled on Astra SP blades which complimented the razor quite well.  As with the original Masamune, there is an overall impression of almost titanium lightness despite being constructed of 303 steel but thanks to the longer handle, the head bias that was present with the original Masamune is completely absent yet the thin almost medical instrument feel of the handle is retained.  Despite experience to the contrary, there were qualms that the slim handle and dimpled design would be quite slippy when combined with slick modern soaps such as Grooming Dept and Wholly Kaw but between the sandblasting and dimples, there was never a moment of jeopardy over the course of a couple weeks' shaves.  The finish feels unique on the face and instead of being an impediment to smooth gliding as feared, actually seems to facilitate both short and long strokes.  Indeed this is a rather unique razor!  Starting with a weeklong beard growth, the OC was used for the first pass of the first shave resulting in adequate beard reduction thanks to the unique feel afforded by the sandblasting and very defined teeth.  The second pass and every subsequent shave was undertaken using the new Nodachi baseplate solely, which was pure magic.  The combination of new smoother straight bar and more aggressive blade gap resulted in a shave similar to the interpolation of a 0,61 and 0,67 WR1 SB Wolfman - the razors used exclusively in my daily rotation along with a BBS-1 (for special occasions).  THOSE CRITICAL OF THE ORIGINAL Tatara Masamune REALLY NEED REVISIT THIS NEW MODEL.  Unlike the original Masamune, the Nodachi requires no particular technique to deliver brainless, irritation free and bbs shaves on a daily basis or even with moderate beard growth to cut through.  The wider gap also makes the razor tolerant of thicker soaps and heavy whiskers simply requiring a momentary flush under mildly running cold or warm water to clean the blade.
My conclusion is that this continues the beautiful and unique aesthetique Tatara has established but now combines it with one of the best shaving razors available in terms of skin friendliness, beard cutting efficiency and maneuverability.  It is limited in availability, beautifully designed, well executed and yet quite affordable.  Frankly, am adding a Nodachi to my rotation - that is the impression made by this latest offering.  I loved this this razor and would suggest 3 additional options be made available to this particular model requiring minimal additional capital:
1, Include a standard nylon ring filling the circumferential gap between the cap thread and baseplate for those using an aftermarket handle
The design would be all Delrin: cylandre 6,6mm OD/5mm ID extending 2,5mm height with a washer 10mm OD/5mm ID 1,0mm height

2, Offer an Open Comb and Dual Comb version of the Nodachi baseplate available using the newly designed smooth to the face blade guard

So now the razor is off to other passaround testers that will join this thread and opine; some are industry people and others highly experienced with DE razors well known/regarded on the forums.  It will be interesting to read their impressions and looking forward to the feedback which will be shared with Tatara.  There are extremely limited slots available, if you would like to be included in the passaround, PM directly.  Thank you for your time and best to all forum members.

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4 447
 10-10-2019, 07:08 PM
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Thanks for a terrific review.

60 9,699
 10-10-2019, 10:23 PM
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(10-10-2019, 07:08 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Thanks for a terrific review.

Agreed excellent review
Thank you

31 417
 10-11-2019, 02:02 PM
  • ajc347
  • Senior Member
  • Exeter, UK
User Info
Great review. Smile 

I have a Nodachi and a Masamune and really like the system Tatara have put together. They recommend using a Feather with both razors and a lot of people who have tried them find this to be a very smooth combination. I have found that a Feather works brilliantly in the Masamune but is far too harsh in the Nodachi for me. A Rapira Platinum Lux, on the other hand, improves things significantly. 

In case you are not aware, the Masamune and Nodachi top caps are slightly different and they are interchangeable with all of the handles and baseplates. Tatara have produced a chart showing the variations that can be had in terms of blade gap, with each combination. 

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If you have access to both razors, it is definitely worth experimenting with the various combinations. I like the Masmune baseplate and Nodachi combination to the extent that I have ordered a second baseplate for the Nodachi (as my Masamune is the Dark variant and a different colour baseplates and top-cap do not do it for me aesthetically).

44 762
 10-29-2019, 02:20 AM
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It would be nice if Tatara would also produce a shorter (76 mm) handle.  At 92 mm and 105 mm, both their handles, are too long for me.
There are a lot of wet shavers who, like me, prefer shorter handles.  If they make a shorter handle, they will probably sell more razors.

Just my opinion.

25 312
 10-29-2019, 11:03 AM
  • DanLaw
  • Just an old slow fat man
  • Peachtree City, GA
User Info
The redesigned top cap works with industry standardhandles so you could try an alternative

4 447
 10-29-2019, 11:21 AM
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Thanks for the in depth review. Glad it was positive.  I ordered one and am awaiting it’s arrival.

0 42
 11-23-2019, 07:40 PM
  • ARGH
  • Senior Member
  • Boston, MA
User Info
Thank you Dan for arranging this pass-arround, without which I would have missed on such a great experience. I was watching Tatara for quite some time, but for some reason did not feel that it would be that impressive a razor. I am glad I tried it!  My first shave was on 24hours growth. I used a fresh Gillette Nacet blade and am delighted to report that the razor DELIVERED! My top three razors are Blackbird first generation, Charcoal Goods Lvl3, and Weber DLC and this Tatara Nodachi proved fair and square that it belongs in that league. I was so impressed with the razor that I ordered my own immediately after I finished my first shave.
The shave went exceptionally well. Finding the shave angle was intuitive. I did three passes with a bit of a cleanup at the end. As I mentioned, it was only 24 hours since my previous shave, so there was not too much to shave.  The Sellout in the milkstake version provided plenty of cushion and glide and the three passes were smooth. I did not have much left for the cleanup and my shave ended with a virtual BBS. I was a bit overly enthusiastic and applied a bit too much pressure when doing ATG, so I ended up with a couple of irritated spots. For the second shave I will make sure to keep the pressure on the low side. All in all, it was an exemplary shave and I am very grateful for this pass-around.

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My second shave was performed on 48-hour growth. I used the same blade, though I changed the soap to the new Siero base by Wholly Kaw. The shave went even better than the firs one. I adjusted the pressure and all three passes went absolutely marvelously with no irritation and a perfect BBS. I never tried the shorter handle that Tatara first introduced, but I am 100% happy with the Nodachi handle. Fits perfectly in my middle-sized palm and has zero problem when wet. The ATG pass felt as smooth and WTG. Will do one more shave (48hr) before sending the razor to the next fellow DFShaver on Monday. 

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124 1,862
 11-25-2019, 01:22 PM
  • ARGH
  • Senior Member
  • Boston, MA
User Info
Here is my third shave set-up. Per your requests I used the Nodachi alongside the Paradigm Ti I. Same blades (Gillete Nacet). 48 hour growth. Same BBS results from both razors. Minimal touching up, no irritation on the Nodachi side; slight traces of redness on the Paradigm side.

The Paradigm has a much more pronounced blade feel and louder audio feedback. The razor is much lighter and I had to adjust pressure to make sure that I do not "dig too deep" [Image: smile.png]
The Nodachi did not require any additional care in shaving in all directions and felt smoother, especially WTG. Based on this single comparison, I can still confidently say that for me the Nodachi is as efficient as the Paradigm, but with a much lesser risk, especially if I use it as a daily driver. 

I am very glad that I tried the razor and I am delighted that my  very own Nodachi was just shipped and is due to arrive in the next couple of weeks. 

The razor is on its way to the next person on the list. 

Thank you Dan for coordinating the pass-around and thank you the Tatara Team for such an amazing razor at a very competitive price.

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124 1,862
 12-03-2019, 10:54 AM
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I've used the Nodachi for 6 days straight, daily shaving including an ATG pass every single time and I have to say that I find this razor VERY smooth and efficient. It can easily be a daily driver for me. In fact, it's become one of my top 3 razors only surpassed slightly by my 1.55 WR2 and the RS-10 which is saying a lot. I find the nocachi much smoother than the Carbon and Charcoal Goods L2. For those finding this razor to be a bit much, I'd suggest trying a very shallow shaving angle. I was not expecting to be this impressed by this razor, but I sure am now. I have the nodachi with the original masamune handle and the aesthetics of the razor are also beautiful and unique. Great job on the razor guys! Definitely one of my favorite razors ever!

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