Basic Shape:

Round, oval, nadekakugata, and mokko, a shape which is very common and is similar to nadekakugata, but is slightly wider and more rounded at the sides.


Most are a wide oval shape with a tendancy toward roundness. It is thick in appearance, very stable and firm; powerful as are all parts of the Hikozo tsuba.


Most are common style and design. The very large size hitsu ana commonly associated with the first Hikozo are much rarer in his work than was previously thought, and seem to be used on the work of later generations for the most part.

Size & Thickness:

Average size in most cases. Average thickness (4.5 millimeters).


Round edge, but many will have a fukurin attached. There are several types of fukurin used by Hikozo: plain, rope design, and others, but the most common is the odawara fukurin. The soldered joint of the Hikozo rim cover is so skillfully joined it can rarely be detected.


Gold and silver nunome, horikomi, and hirazogan plus splashed or drops of silver that seem to float on the surface.

Plate Metal:

Shakudo, shinchu, pure copper, and yamagane are the most common. Iron plate is very rare. The color of the plate is very rich and illustrates the many patinations and coloring processes Hikozo devised for the many plate metals and combinations he used with such facility.


The surface of the web is a wonder to behold. It may be treated in many ways but each shows a mastery of the tools, techniques, and feeling for the plate metal very rarely seen in the work of any other artist. The carving may be shishiai, katakiri, or horiage. In yasuri, shigure-yasuri, and particularly okina-yasuri were so perfectly executed that no other artist ever equaled their quality. The yakite kusarashi technique was used to form natural designs as well as surface finishes, both styles were handled with consummate skill.


The most splendid point of the Hikozo tsuba is the control and treatment of the plate metal and the aesthetic combinations used to achieve harmony of plate and fukurin. Copper plate will have yamagane fukurin; yamagane plate will have shakudo fukurin; iron plate will have silver fukurin; and other combinations that blend metal color, textures, and values, to derive the most from their aesthetic beauty.
It must be remembered that Hikozo chose kawarigane plate for aesthetic as well as utilitarian beauty and his tsuba served both areas admirably. Even though the origins of his designs and techniques will be found in the tachikanagushi tsuba of the Muromachi age, he carried these techniques to a perfection never again to be equaled in the kawarigane tsuba.

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