Nice Akasaka school iron tsuba. Signed Tadatoki Saku. Late Edo Period (19th century). Attributed to Tadatoki V (8th master).

This tsuba is an example of a classic design theme of plum blossom on branches. Similar works can also be found in Higo Nishigaki and Hayashi work. Tadatoki V was the 8th master of the Akasaka School. He became head of the family in 1818. Haynes Index H 09169.0. This tsuba has a near faultless surface and demonstrates the artist’s ability to create a dynamic composition in an extremely limited space.

In the early 17th century when the Tokugawa Shogunate established the capital in Edo (modern Tokyo), a Kyoto dealer in sword guards named Kariganeya Hikobei moved to a place which was then – and still is now – called Akasaka. He brought with him several tsubako students, including the men who ended up being the first, second and third masters of the school. Hikobei did the design drawings for the guards himself and selected only the best products for release to the public. Due to this the prestige of the Akasaka guards rose quickly. This school is distinguished by its designs and sharpness of cutting in positive silhouette. It is believed that the Akasaka design originated from the Owari style.

Hikojuro Tadatoki V was the 8th and last master of the Akasaka school. From the 6th master onwards the guards continue to be influenced by the style of the 4th master period and are in Higo style. This guard in particular is very reminiscent of Higo Nishigaki work. Tadatoki V prepared a genealogy of the entire Akasaka group that is reliable and provides much of the information that we know about this school today.




Length – 7.45 cm
Width – 7.1 cm
Thickness at seppa dai – 0.35 cm
Thickness at rim – 0.35 cm


(Unfortunatley papers have been misplaced by a previous owner)


Paul Bowman collection, UK
Deryk Ingham collection, UK