Are you perhaps comparing Norton's Oilstones with Nortons's or others Waterstones? That is where the grits are different.. between Oil and Waterstones regardless of the stone maker.
That doesn't seem the case here. FWIW, grit numbers are always somewhat uncertain, even if they're given according to the same -- supposedly objective -- scale.
All Japanese, synthetic water stones are graded according to the JIS scale, which is meant to directly correlate to screen size and should therefore be very consistent from maker to maker, but unfortunately it doesn't work out that way in practice. Not only is one maker's 4K likely to be very different from another's; but there's often a great deal of variation between different series made by the same maker.
A lot of factors come into play, including variation in the sizes of the abrasive particle in a given stone, errors in measurement, type of substrate, differences in manufacturing and so on.
When it comes to synthetic stones and abrasives from non-Japanese manufacturers whether oil stones, diamond plates, abrasive tapes, etc., it's important to remember that they use a variety of different scales -- so you can't go by numbers unless you know what the numbers mean.
Also, grading natural stones in terms of equivalent grit sizes is usually an exercise in futility. Even Norton's estimates of the grit equivalents for their own Arkansas stones are notoriously wide of the mark.
I was confused and thought the grit ratings weren't as advertised or the same as a japanese water stone so I figured I could treat it as a lower grit stone to keep things on similar scales. For example, I thought that if the 4k side of the norton's was more like a 1k grit I would use that before the 2k naniwa. I think was was confusing the more mirror polish I get from a stone the sharper the edge, which doesn't seem to be the case from Kitayama stone example.
You're right that you were trying to read too much into shine.
There are four most useful criteria for judging how to place a given stone in a series of other stones. (1) How well and how fast it moves metal, for profiling and repair; (2) How well and how fast it allows you to draw a burr and/or establish a fine edge; (3) How much "reach" it has, which are matters of how well it polishes out the scuff left by the previous stone and how fine a stone you can efficiently jump to for the next step; and (4) How slippery it leaves a final polish.
The first criterion applies to coarse stones. The second and third criteria apply to medium stones. The fourth and last applies to fine and ultra fine stones. There are other factors for judging stones, but don't relate as strongly in terms of putting together a kit.
Getting back to your point, I frequently characterize stones as being more shine than sharp, and it appears we're on the same page.
The big takeaway: Grit numbers are useful, but they only tell you so much.