As you all might be aware, I'm not really a 'knife guy' so am unable to really jump and help too much around here.
However, there are some new additions to the Tools from Japan store that might be of some interest to you all.
As the title suggests, they're stones from Suehiro. Specifically, their Cerax, New Cerax, more traditional stones (Rika, etc.) and their Gokumyo line of stones.
The Cerax are a vitrified ceramic type stone, moderately soft and quite fast and muddy. Not to the same extent as something like the Rika, but certainly softer than stuff like Chosera, Shapton and Sigma Power ceramic.
I've put a little time on these stones, and find the #8000 to be a fairly predictable WA type stone. The #6000 to be very fast-for-grit when soaked, but quite firm and dish resistant when splashed and used while still damp. The #1000 is a smooth, relatively soft stone that deals with any steel I've ever thrown at it. Needs a soak, but won't complain if left soaking. The #700 is rather King like, but seems to be more aggressive. Nice, muddy and friendly. The #320 is a surprise. Needs a soak, but is surprisingly dish resistant, has good feeling and is deceptively fast. It's also huge and for what you get, cheap! Actually, the three lowest grit stones are surprisingly inexpensive.
Also added are the 'New Cerax' which are aimed more at the home sharpener who wants something easy to use, won't use them too often and just needs to get the job done. Available in a wide range of sizes, they're a good choice for those folks who are looking for a simple stone that will just work and isn't too worried about the intricacies of their stones.
The traditional style stones should be well known to most folks here, so I won't go into detail.
The Gokumyo series of stones are something completely different. Frighteningly hard, a bit of a handful to use but with surprisingly good performance, available in 5 different configurations/types and expensive, they're not likely to be the most popular stones in the world but they do make you take notice if you ever manage to get a try of one.
I won't go into too much detail about these Gokumyo stones for the immediate time being, but there is one thing that stuck in my mind when we were communicating with Suehiro about these particular stones, and that was;
"We made these 'for fun'. Not to fill a need, but to see what we could do with current technology and see if we could make something unique and different. We don't think you will sell many of them, we don't really want to sell many of them and besides, you'll never sell two of the same stone to the same person. They don't wear out."
Considering some of these stones are very, very thin, the 'don't wear out' is a bold statement, but surprisingly, I think it's also very true...
If you have any questions, you know what to do.