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The Glossary is a work in progress, with new terms and pages being added periodically. Keep checking back, or email me with addition suggestions


Tsuba Glossary




Ategane (当て金) - Metal plugs added to tsuba to fill the hitsu-ana

Fukurin () - A rim covering, often but not always of soft metal

Hitsu-ana (櫃孔) - Opening or passage in the tsuba for purposes of accommodating some object. Respectively prefixed by kanji for kōgai-, kozuka- or nakago-

Ji () - As applied to tosogu, it refers to the ground surface or plate. Usally preceeded by a descriptor ie. Nanako-ji (魚子地)

Ji-sukashi (地透) - Positive relief openwork

Kage sukashi (影透) - Negative relief openwork. Occasionally called In-sukashi (陰透)

Mimi () - The rim of a tsuba. Two types: Uchikaeshi-mimi or Dotte-mimi

Sekigane (責金) - Metal inserts applied to the hitsu-ana, in order to resize them to a smaller fitting blade or saya implement

Seppa-dai (切羽台) - Area on either side of the tsuba, surrounding the nakago-ana, which is covered by the seppa

Udenuki-ana (腕貫孔) - Pair of small holes, typically under the nakago-ana, used to thread a wrist-cord. In Satsuma koshirae, the holes are referred to as tsuba-dome-ana (鐔留孔), and were used to affix the tsuba to the kurigata, by means of a thin wire. This added security was to allow the user to think-twice before drawing the blade without cause




Tsuba Shapes


Tsuba Rim Types


Aoi-gata (葵形) - Literally the 'hollyhock' shape. The classic shape for a tachi tsuba, very similar in form to the quatrefoil mokkō-gata tachi tsuba, but with peaked lobes

Aori-gata (泥障形) - Named after the shape of saddle bags, this tsuba form is slightly trapezoidal, with rounded edges. Generally it is associated with early tachi, and derived from the earlier Shitogi-gata tsuba. Some Jingo and Kanshirō works favoured this form

Dotte mimi (土手耳) - Tsuba rim where a metal band has been added in a strengthening capacity. Often made of the same metal as the plate. Sometimes described as an 'embankment rim' or 'piped rim'. Differs from a fukurin, which is ornamental, and typically of a different metal to than the plate

Inome (猪目) - Heart-shaped design elements, often as sukashi. Literally 'boars eye', in the Japanese design sense. Often added to the plate of Aoi- and Mokkō-gata shaped tsuba, at the apices of the 4 lobes

Kaku-gata (角形) - Square shaped. Numerous descriptors can be used to further differentiate nuances of form

Kawari-gata (変り形) - Unusually shaped tsuba

Kikuka-gata (菊花形) - Chrysanthemum shaped rim, typically with corresponding sukashi elements. Also seen as Kikka-gata

Kuruma-gata (車形) - Wheel inspired sukashi elements, combined with a straight rim (vs. Kikuka-gata)

Maru-gata (丸形) - Circular / round shaped

Mokkō-gata (木瓜形) - Quatrefoil shaped tsuba. Numerous variations of this style, each with descriptive names.  This is also a classic early tachi form, along with Aoi-gata. Often associated with Inome (猪目) sukashi at the apices of the lobes

Nadekaku-gata (撫角形) - Most common variant of Kaku-gata form, with smoothed / rounded edges - an ovoid square

Nademaru-gata (撫丸形) - Sub-rounded shape - ovoid.  One of the most common tsuba shapes

Shitogi-gata (粢形) - Meaning derives from a type of oval rice-cake . A form derived from the mainland, also referred to as Kara tsuba (唐鐔), denoting Chinese Tang dynasty origins. Characterized by a thick, hollow central section, with ear-like protrusions from each side (though not passing through). Evolved into the Aoi-gata tsuba, with the loss of the hollow middle section, in favor of the flat conventional plate

Tōran-gata / Hōju-gata (倒卵形 / 宝珠形) - Literally 'egg shaped'.  These two forms mark the earliest domestically produced tsuba styles.  Toran tsuba are distinguished by sukashi openings, while the Hoju tsuba are solid plate tsuba, and tend to be smaller

Uchikaeshi mimi (打返耳) - Tsuba rim where the plate edge has been hammered-back, beveled or shaped to thicken and strengthen the tsuba edge. The rim is the same material as the plate. Can be difficult to distinguish in some configurations vs the Dotte mimi (added rim), when the added rim is the same material as the plate ie. Chūkū-uchikaeshi-mimi vs. Maru-dotte mimi

Wan-gata (椀形) - Literally 'bowl' shaped. Concavo-convex form, said to have been modeled after European cutlass and rapier guards


Tōsōgu 'Schools'


The following list covers many, though not all common 'schools' or groups of tōsōgu. It should be understood that all of these schools are modern in concept, originating largely in the Meiji period, to satisfy the need of western collectors to differentiate and label various works. Many of these commonly used designations do not stand up to scrutiny, but they have become convention.


Group Kanji Group Kanji
Ko-Tosho 古刀匠 Awa 阿波
Ko-Katchushi 古甲胃帥 Iyo 伊予
Tachi-Kanagushi (Tachishi) 太刀金具帥 (太刀帥) Shonai 庄内
Ezo 蝦夷 Aizu 会津
Kagamishi 鏡帥 Akita 秋田
Kamakura 鎌倉 Kaga 加賀
Ko-Mino 古美濃 Bizen 備前
Ko-Goto 古後藤 Tosa 土佐
Onin 応仁 Satsuma 薩摩
Heianjo 平安城 Ko-Hagi 古萩  
Yoshiro 与四郎 Soten 宗典
Ko-Shoami 古正阿弥 Hazama
Owari 尾張 Tochibata 栃火田
Kanayama 金山 Bushu 武州
Hoan 法安 Choshu 長州
Yamakichibei 山吉兵 Ito 伊藤
Nobuie 信家 Kinai 記丙
Kaneie 金家 Akao 赤尾 
Umetada 埋忠 Jakushi 若芝
Ono 大野 Hizen 肥前
Saotome 早乙女 Tetsugendo 鐡元堂
Sadahiro 貞広 Ichinomiya 一宮
Myochin 明珍 Otsuki 大月
Haruta 春田 Iwamoto 岩本
Kyo-Kinko 京金工 Yoshioka 吉岡
Kyo-Kanagushi 京金具帥 Tanaka 田中
Akasaka 赤坂 Yokoya 横谷
Higo 肥後 Nara 奈良
Yagyu 柳生 Hamano 濱野
Nishigaki 西垣 Sano 佐野
Shimizu 志水 Omori 大森
Hirata 平田 Ishiguro 石黒
Hayashi Murakami 村上
Nanban 南蛮 Nakagawa 中川
Mito 水戸 Kikugawa 菊川
Suruga 駿河 Kikuoka 菊岡
Hirata 平田 Someya 染谷
Tenbo 天法 Funada 船田
Kamiyoshi 神吉 Wada 和田
Sado 佐渡 Rinsendo 臨川堂


Useful Terms and Designations


Term Kanji Comments
Mei (Zaimei) 銘 (在銘) Signature (signed)
Mumei (Meibun Mumei) 無銘 (銘文 無銘) Unsigned (Without signature)
Gimei 偽銘 False signature (fake)
Kao 花押 Makers seal
Den School /group affiliation ('in the style of')
Ryuha 流派 School / group



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