I have a pile of western and wa-handled knives. I prefer the wa- because it doesn't really matter where I put my hand. The westerns sometimes have contours that feel odd as I shift my grip. I also feel that larger handles tend to be a little more comfortable. That said, I've never bought a knife based on the handle and they all seem fine to me. Shipping from Japan seems to be pretty affordable, in general. The only retailer in Canada that I know of is Knifewear. Seems like a nice shop carrying some good stuff.