The ONIN School


Early to Mid Muromachi period.

Basic Shape:

Round, rounded square, and oval are the most common, rarely we find 'kikuka-gata, and other shapes.


The seppa-dai area is usually marked by a thin inlaid brass wire.


Most hitsu-ana have been added later. The few original ones are to be found on the small size Onin tsuba.


2.5 millimeters to about 3.0 millimeters, or 4.0 millimeters in the thickest pieces.


Round or kakumimi koniku.

Design Characteristics:

Branch of the orange, utensils, animals, plants, mon (crests), and geometrical patterns, usually in symmetrical arrangement. Surrounding the edge, perforations, and the seppa-dai are inlaid strips of brass of roped design.

Plate Metal:

Always iron of either hard temper or soft temper.


The plate is well forged. Those of soft iron are more common, hard iron being rare. The surface of the plate is usually tsuchime shitate (showing hammer marks). The good forging and hammering show the hand of the katchushi in the making of the plate.


Mitsu uroko (three scales), linked circles, mon, or subjects common to most katchushi tsuba of the same period such as butterfly, dragonfly, and mushrooms are commonly found. The position of the openwork on the plate will be in the same areas as those on the katchushi tsuba; opposite the hitsu-ana or in the top or bottom right quarter. As the period of the Onin tsuba progressed the amount of openwork applied also increased.


The Onin tsuba is both brilliant and luxuriant, yet it is also pleasing to the eye. On the whole this style of tsuba has an antique feeling that keeps it well within the bounds of good taste.

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