Reference books on Tsuba

Tsuba websites | Sukashi Tetsu Tsuba

Tsuba no Bi (Beauty of Tsuba)
by KASHIMA Susumu, HAYASHI Eiroku and MATSUNAGA Hirokichi.
Heisei 15 (2003) edition is 248 pages, 21 x 15 cm, soft cover published by Ribun Shuppan. First edition was Showa 63 (1985). This book is really worth having and provides a very wide coverage of iron plate and sukashi tsuba. It includes tsuba that most of us can still afford; highly recommended. In Japanese, but the B & W photos and range of tsuba are very informative. ISBN 4-89806-194-X.

We have produced a summary translation of figure captions (7 pages pdf) HERE

Early Japanese Sword Guards: Sukashi Tsuba
284 pages, 26.5 x 19 cm, hard cover,
by SASANO Masayuki (1972). This is one of the most useful and informative books available on these tsuba, it is in English and there are 216 examples with very interesting discussion and explanation. This book and its descriptions are classic. ISBN 0-87040-176-9.

NOTE: there is a similar book by SASANO Masayuki and FUJIMOTO Shihara, Sukashi Tsuba, Bushido no Bi, 1972, 426 pages which is basically the same material, but all in Japanese, and shows many photos and oshigata of tsuba.

Nihon To Koza:
400+ pages, 28.3 x 21 cm, hard cover,
Volume VI, Japanese Swords Kodogu Part 1. English translation by Harry Afu Watson, 1993. Many good black and white photos and much background and explanation of a wide range of tsuba. Good to have names in kanji also. Helpful index, list of kanji and definitions. ISBN 1-888612-02-9.
Sukashi Tsuba.
KOKUBO Kenichi, SASANO Masayuki, MASAMOTO Senichiro, SHIBATA Mitsuo.
1968, hard cover with dust jacket, 21.5 x 15.3 x 2.5 cm. Useful compact reference book, of 257 pages, clear B & W photos, text in Japanese but easy to follow captions. Grouped chronologically and into “schools”.
Bushi no Issho: Sukashi Tsuba sword guards with open work design, Kofun Period to Edo Period.
Printed in 1999 by Sano Museum. Glossy soft cover and 140 glossy pages with coloured photos and some B & W with detailed explanations; mostly in Japanese, with an English summary at the rear. Over 180 photos, including some koshirae, 29.6 x 22.5 x 1.3 cm.
Akasaka Tsuba (“fashionable sukashi”).
by Sano Museum.
Printed 1990, soft cover and glossy pages, 25.7 x 19.0 x 1.4 cm, 154 pages, all in Japanese, 140 clear photos of wide range of Akasaka tsuba, 30 pages of photos of mei, captions show different tsubako and generations.
Tôsogu no Kanshô (Appreciation of sword fittings).
by Shôyô Kai
Printed Showa 57, 1982. Cloth bound hard cover with glossy pages, 30.4 x 21.4 x 1.3 cm. This is a very useful book printed by a group of enthusiasts; 82 pages with 180 clear photos, sukashi in B & W, kinko and kodogu in colour.
Good selection of examples. In Japanese but captions have English summaries.
Tsuba Geijutsu-ko (tsuba craftsmen)
TORIGOYE Kazutaro.
1960. Clothbound with 2 volumes in storage box, 30 x 22 x 5 cm. The larger book is 111 pages on glossy paper, with B & W photos on one side only, grouped in age and school. The smaller book is largely Japanese text with some photos and drawings, 144 pages. Dr. Torigoye is a recognised authority of tsuba. A wide range of very good examples of tsuba.
Tsuba: An Aesthetic Study
TORIGOYE Kazutaro and HAYNES Robert
A companion to and translation from Tsuba Geijutsu-ko by Kazutaro Torigoye. Edited by Alan Harvie, 2000 and 2007 editions in English. Soft cover and spiral bound, 28 x 22 x 2.2 cm. Has additional information to the original and notes form Robert Haynes, wealth of information. Extremely useful but best to have both books. Has some copied pics for reference. 275 pages.

Hartman Collection of Japanese Metalwork.
This is the catalogue of a large auction by Christie’s in London, on 30 June/1 July, 1976. Cloth bound hard cover, 165 pages of heavy glossy paper, 31.0 x 23.8 x 1.5 cm. There are B & W and coloured photos of total of 676 items which include kodogu and swords, and 380 tsuba both sukashi and kinko. Captions are in English and Japanese which makes it a very useful reference.
Japanese Sword Guards, the Peabody Museum Collection.
Printed in 1975 by the museum in Salem, Massachusetts, US. Glossy soft cover and around 90 flat pages, photos one side with captions opposite. Around 190 tsuba mostly B & W, sukashi and kinko, also some coloured pics of kodogu.
Illustrated Catalogues of Tokyo National Museum: Sword Guard.
Tokyo Museum.
Cloth bound hardcover with dust jacket. This is the tsuba edition of a series of three books, printed in 1979. There are around 540 tsuba of all types, in clear B & W photos, in a general chronological order, with very useful captions in English, Japanese and kanji. Size 26.3 x 19.0 x 1.8 cm.
Uchigatana no Furutsuba Zu Setsu (Design and explanation of old tsuba for katana)
by YOKOTA Kenichi, printed 1979.
Cloth bound hard cover, 26.0 x 18.5 x 1.9 cm, and in hard cloth bound box. Has 152 pages with B & W photos of 110 tsuba, all in Japanese but captions with big print. This is a really useful boo and shows many examples not seen in other tsuba books.
Tsuba. Ishô to Waza no Bi. (beauty of craftsman work and technique)
Soft cover with dust jacket, 21.0 x 15.0 x 1.0 cm, 141 pages, Japanese text. The approach is interesting and groups tsuba into their design themes: astrological/nature, animal, plant and human life. There are 110 tsuba. There is a lot of information and discussion in here.

It is very interesting to consider the following characters:

day: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
reading: getsu ka sui moku kin do nichi
moon fire water wood metal
earth day
reading: tsuki hi mizu ki kane
tsuchi nichi

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