Okay, I just got a new CarboNext 300mm suji from JCK- EMS dropped it off a couple days ago. I haven't had time to take a pic, so I'll post one from JCK:
The buzz on the interwebz is that the CarboNext is a actually an Ichimonji TKC branded for JCK. This wouldn't be at all unusual; the world of J-knives is an incestuous and convoluted one. For instance, Hattori's HD line is actually manufactured by Ryusen with Hattori San doing the final inspection and hand finishing. An Akifusa can also be purchased as an Ikeda. There are many other examples but you get the picture. What separates this from mere rumor is that it really seems to come Koki himself. The kicker is that the only US distributor of the Ichimonji/Kikuichi TKC just lowered his prices by 10-15%...that makes me think we're talking apples and apples here. That made it worth a try.
For those of you who haven't used one the TKC is a remarkable knife. The fit and finish is great and the early Ichimonji ones like mine truly can be considered "lasers." The steel takes a great edge as it's some type of carbon tool steel. It's not stainless but it doesn't stain easily. It will take a patina. Edge retention is superb; time will tell, but it may come close to the Akifusa in that regard. All in all my 240mm TCK is my favorite gyuto.
As I unboxed the 300mm Kagayaki CarboNext it really does look like a TKC. Same handle, same lines, same look. Again, time will tell but it's a nice lookin' piece, especially for $161 delivered. OotB it's not sharp at all. It has a few inches out of twelve that are sharp but overall it's pretty dull- probably the dullest true J-knife I've ever bought. Let me hasten to add that it bothers me not all. Many knives come basically unsharpened. Just check out an Aritsuga sometime. Word from other recent purchasers reinforces this, so if you buy one plan on "opening" it when you get it. I spent two hours on mine tonite, and it wasn't fun. It's no axe but I did feel it needed to be thinned behind the edge. I started with a 120 grit Shapton GlassStone which is a very aggressive stone, but it still took awhile. It's not that it's hard to cut the steel, I wanted to thin it up the edge about 5 mm. That seemed to fix it. I moved to a 500 grit GlassStone, then polished out the relief bevel on a 2k Naniwa Green Brick. After a rinse in the sink and a trip to a ceramic hone & a balsa strop I hit the stones. I went thru my Choceras- 1k, 2k and 5k. I then hit it with my 8k Naniwa "Snow White" before finishing on the 10k Chocera.
At this point it would fall thru a Wal-Mart bag so easily that, no exaggeration, you couldn't tell it was going thru anything unless you were looking. At this point I stropped on two different planks of balsa wood, one doused liberally with Hand American 0.5 micron Chromium Oxide paste and the other impregnated with 0.125 micron Cubic Boron Nitrate. Having reached the point where the shadow of the blade would scare hair off my arm, I opted to cease my efforts.
I don't have much to test it on at the moment, but it falls thru an onion nicely. I'll use it exclusively this weekend at work just to see how it performs. I'm anxious to see if edge retention is equal to the Ichimonji TKC.