Kyoto (1504 - 1867)

Basic Shape:

Round (Heianjo pieces were mokko as well as round).


(Kyo-Sukashi) Long and gentile in appearance, slightly tapering to the top to harmonize with the design. (Heianjo Sukashi) A little sharpat the corners.
These two schools have seppa dai closely resembling each other, being very well proportioned. Late Muromachi to early Momoyama are koban (oval shape) in shape (in rare cases with squared corners).


(Kyo-Sukashi) Elongated oval shape, very graceful and elegant. (Heianjo Sukashi) Several styles were used though rounded or long oval shape is the most common.


4 to 5 millimeters.


Round or marumimi, kakumimi. Iron bones uncommon.

Design Characteristics:

Sometimes the design of the web is slightly lower than that of the seppa dai and mimi, making these surfaces appear raised. Family crests, many symmetrical designs in ubuzukashi. Designs including kanji, bamboo, maple leaves, orange, hare, kiri plant, hollyhock and others may be treated in ubuzukashi, flat ji sukashi, or in sukashi. There is also a naturalistic style used with the same design subjects.

Metal Surface:

(Kyo-Sukashi)Soft iron with polished surface.
(Heianjo Sukashi) The iron is as hard as the Kyo-Sukashi, sometimes a little harder.


"Heianjo tsuba" is the term used by some to denote pre-Edo Kyoto-Sukashi work. Other authorities claim that it is a separate group distinguished by the use of some brass inlay; others feel that it is a term applied only to the most refined pieces of Kyo-Sukashi made within the castle grounds. Dr. Torigoye states "Naturally the Heianjo sukashi school is closely related to the Heianjo zogan school. From this fact it can be seen that a separation of the work in these two styles can be made only on the basis of the tsuba alone. In many cases it would seem that artists of both schools worked on a single tsuba, each restricted to his specialty. Kyo-sukashi the plate and Heianjo the inlay decoration. For this reason the brass inlaid tsuba of this group are called Heianjo work and the openwork pieces are called Kyo-sukashi."

Return to Tsuba Artisan School Page
Study Guide | Tsuba | Haynes Tutorial