Communication Jamais vu Beauty Model WH100B. CJB Blade Handle. CJB Razor. CJB Japanese style replaceable blade razor. CJB Kamisori. No matter how you say it, when you bring up the CJB you’re likely to get the same response: praise followed by disappointment. Praise for the razor’s low cost, overall good quality, and excellent performance. Disappointment at how difficult it can sometimes be to find these little gems. Having lusted after this razor on and off for the last year or so, I finally broke down and purchased one. Sadly, my first CJB had a defective tension spring which made loading and unloading blades extremely difficult (I even managed to bruise my finger tips while loading a blade). The spring snapped after two uses, turning the razor into a slightly expensive paper weight. Luckily the eBay seller, Purosdave, was quick to respond and replaced this first CJB with a properly functioning one. I can’t speak highly enough about this seller. I don’t know how many folks out there got their CJB and Sam Seong razors from Purosdave, but he is one of the folks working to spread these amazing razors to the western market.
Before I get into the actual review of this wondrous piece of shaving gear I just want to address a small issue that often pops up when folks talk about these razors: the use of the word kamisori. Kamisori is the Japanese word for razor. After speaking to several Japanese folks about this (and, yes they all thought that the question was weird) I have ascertained that this word is used to refer to any razor and does not exclusively refer to traditional Japanese style straight razors. Some folks in the traditional wet shaving community have taken to calling traditional Japanese style straight razors kamisori, and while this does make things simpler it also creates tension whenever anyone refers to anything else as kamisori. This is a ridiculous thing to get upset about for a number of reasons, but the most notable is that Japanese folks do not seem to use the term kamisori to refer exclusively to Japanese style straight razors. So, while I do not refer to the CJB as kamisori, I also do not get bent out of shape when someone does. And now onto our regularly scheduled review.
One of the most notable issues that people have when considering Feather AC/Kai Captain/Sam Seong/CJB razors is the price. I purchased my CJB for about $37, including shipping. This is a fairly reasonable price for a well made razor and did not give me any cause for alarm, but the blades are another story. The CJB uses the same blades as the Feather Artist Club, Kai Captain, and Sam Seong razors. These blades are, by far, the most expensive blades that I have come across in the world of traditional wet shaving. A package of Feather Professionals (the base line standard) will normally run around $20/20 which makes them $1/blade, or ten times the price of my favorite DE blades and about twice the cost of my favorite hair shaper blades. With some digging I found that it is possible to occasionally find Feather Pro blades for as little as $16/20, but this is still a pretty steep price. Many users of these types of razors claim that Feather Pro blades routinely last between ten and fifteen uses, which would help to justify paying such a high price, I suppose time will tell. In any event, one of the things that makes pause when considering a Japanese style replaceable blade razor is the overall cost. My initial purchase of a CJB, Feather plastic protector case, 1 package of Feather Professional blades, and 1 package of Feather Super Pro blades ran me about $80. For $80 I could have purchased a nice DE razor and a few hundred blades, so why in the world would I spend that much money to buy a razor that uses such high priced specialty blades? I have to admit that curiosity was what drove my initial decision, but the impressive quality and performance of the CJB and Feather Pro blades is what hooked me.
The CJB design and construction is all business. This is a razor designed to be as efficient and lean as possible, but constructed with quality materials. It feels nice and maneuverable in hand and has as little flash as possible. Its short Japanese style design means that the handle is ergonomic, the head is easy to use in tight spaces, and the whole thing feels solid without being bulky. The grey hard rubber handle is about 3 1/4″ long and slopes gently upward to help angle the head properly when using it. There is a small notch for the thumb with jimps to help stabilize the razor as well as to ensure a solid grip, even when wet. The head is a little over 2 3/4″ long and has the same design as the Feather RG non-folding razor (the spine is pinched to open up the blade holder and the side piece is removable to allow proper cleaning. The CJB does have a few quality flaws, such as molding not being cleanly cut away and a mediocre finish, but these are fairly minor issues and mostly aesthetic in nature.
The CJB is more or less exactly what I was expecting. The largest surprise for me were the blades. I was expecting Feather Pro blades to be just as long as hair shaper blades, but this is not the case. Feather Pro blades are 50mm long (or just under 2″), while Fromm and Personna hair shaper blades are 57mm long (or just under 2 1/4″) and weigh about twice as much as Feathers. For a little bit of perspective DE blades are about 37mm long and Injector blades are 38mm long.
Thanks to my first one being defective, I have used the CJB only a half dozen times, but it has quickly become my go to razor. It is quicker and easier to use than a traditional straight razor, handles better than a hair shaper razor, and just plain looks cooler than a DE. Using the CJB I have gotten two pass DFS and BBS shaves with almost no effort. The myth that Feather Pro blades are far more deadly than other types of blades is just that: a myth. I found the blades no more blood thirsty than hair shaper blades and have yet to either nick myself or cause myself any serious irritation. While I would not recommend that a newbie jump onto this razor, I also would not hesitate to recommend the CJB to anyone who has enough skill to not mutilate themselves on an aggressive DE or SE.
In a relatively short time I have come to love the CJB. It is a quality razor with a little bit of mystique and a lot of ability. If you’re lucky enough to find one of these razors for sale (they are always available through Gmarket, but they also pop up from time to time on eBay and are also occasionally found in the B/S/T threads of various forums) then I would absolutely suggest that you jump at the offer. You won’t be disappointed.