The Naniwa Gouken line represent a new product offering philosophy from Naniwa, one of the most reputable sharpening stone manufacturers.
For as long as I could remember, the Naniwa Chosera line represents the holy-grail of sharpening stones for kitchen knives: very fast cutting power, slow dishing and most importantly offering a very very gentle sharpening feedback that was not seen in other stones. The stone is huge in size (25mm thick, with the 10K over 30mm), and is mounted on a traditional base, and there is a free HUGE Nagura (cleaning stone) comes with the package
If you ask me, what is the problem with the Chosera line? Well the single biggest problem for us, the vendors, is that the stone is simply too big to ship: at 210x70x25mm, the stone is too heavy and to be honest, even in commercially environment like the store, we don’t wear out a Chosera that quick, for an average user it is even less likely to wear one out in a reasonable time. The included nargura doesn’t help either as it contribute to a lot of weight with virtually no use at all (most of us use diamond plates or natural naguras anyway).
At over 2KG in shipping weight, the cost of international shipping becomes prohibitive. If we want to make sure the package lands safely (a cracked stone for an international order is a DISASTER!), a lot of padding must be added, resulting in the volumetric weight sometimes exceeding 3KG.
Plus, so many customers asked the question of “Do you offer the Chosera without base?”
To adjust the above-mentioned problems, the Gouken line was introduced. Currently there are two sub-labels under the Gouken branding. The Arata and Kagayaki.
The simplest way to describe: the Gouken Arata is the slime version of a (improved) Chosera that is same surface size but thinner (15mm); without the not-so-useful nagura and comes with a “removable” base (the box) rather than a permanently mounted to a base. My experience with the Arata is that it feels identical to Chosera yet is much easier to store or carry around. You could almost regard the Arata as the much-better-alternative to the Shapton Kuromaku.
1. The Chosera is always gentler to the blade, yet the speed is about the same to the Kuromaku;
2. The Arata have a 3000 grit offering, which is one of the most important mid-high grit stone yet it is missing in the Kuromaku.
3. The Chosera 5000/1000 is considered the best of the best yet Kuromaku doesn’t perform that well in high grits.