Reading List

For those who want to know more, here are a few good books with some of my most often used ones near the top and less used near the bottom.

Go here for a list of related books in the Watson library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Japanese Sword Guard Masterpieces from the Sasano Collection Part I

Sasano Masayuki

Published in Japan in 1994 by Daisuke Saito, Mega Co., LTD

Translation by Tomoko Sato, edited by John Harding

No ISBN, distributed by Tokyo Gallery Ltd., London, UK and Bushido R. Benson, Honolulu HI, USA

This is a fantastic book representing some of the best examples and latest thinking on early sukashi tsuba. Unfortunately, this is Sasano sensei's last book. A must have. Covers iron sukashi only.

Tsuba Kanshoki

Dr. Torigoye Kazutaro

The first edition is in Japanese only, but the 2nd ed. has English captions. It covers all schools and periods.  Good examples, reproduction and binding.  Note that there are different tsuba illustrated in the two editions, so it is worth owning both.

Tsuba an Aesthetic Study

Dr. Torigoye Kazutaro and Robert E. Haynes

This is an English translation and expansion of Torigoye’s Tsuba Geijutsu-Ko.  It covers the history and characteristics of the major tsuba groups.  There are not many illustrations, but the text is very valuable.  Portions of this work first appeared in the Haynes auction catalog series in the 1980’s.  It was then published in the Northern California Japanese Sword Club news letter from 1994-1997 and then as a photocopied, bound edition in March 2000.  It is available from the club.

The Index of Japanese Sword Fittings and Associated Artists

Robert E. Haynes

Published by Nihon Art Publishers, Ellwangen, 2001.

ISBN 3-9805755-4-3

This is the most complete listing of information on fittings makers available to date and it is in English.  A must have.  No illustrations.

Nihonto Koza Volume VI, Kodogu Part I

Translation by Harry Watson

1993, privately published

My copy has no ISBN, but Mr. Watson reports that this volume has now been assigned ISBN 1-888612-02-9

This is of course part of an encyclopedia, so depth is sometimes lacking, but this volume is a good source of information on all of the tusba styles. And, courtesy of Harry, it's in English.

Toso Kodogu Meiji Taikei

Wakayama Takeshi, 1978

Wakayama's three volume set of signature photos. This is the most extensive group of illustrated signatures available.  In Japanese, but the Haynes index above cross references Wakayama in English.

Tsuba Taikan

Kawaguchi Noboru

1972, Token Shunju Shimbunsha, Tokyo

Extensive index of names, photos of representative pieces, as you'd expect from a Taikan. This is the reprint, which is somewhat less expensive than the first edition.

Toso Kodogu Koza

Wakayama Takeshi

Yuzankoku, Tokyo 1972

This is an 8 volume encyclopedia covering all types of fittings and groups of makers.

Uchigatana Koshirae

Tokyo National Museum, 1976

This illustrates intact early katana koshirae with large, clear and detailed photographs of each part. Very enlightening.  English captions in the back.

Sukashi Tsuba

Sano Art Museum, 1999

Well photographed sukashi tsuba including brass inlay and soft metal types. Also some important early koshirae and kofun material. English captions in the back.


Sukashi Tsuba in Europaischen Sammlungen

Eckhard Kremers

Published privately in 1994


Mr. Kremers was a student of Sasano Masayuki, and this work also presents a contemporary view of the early tsuba. In this case the tsuba are from various European collections and many have not been illustrated elsewhere.  

Toso Kinko Jiten

Wakayama Takeshi, 1984

Probably the most used list of fittings maker’s names and data. Japanese.  This information is now included within the Haynes index mentioned above. 

Kinko Meikan

Kokuho Kenichi, Masumoto Suichiro, 1974

Photos of signatures for many fittings makers. A must for anyone collecting signed pieces.

To Ron

This is the newsletter of the Northern California Japanese Sword club. A lot of good information on fittings sees print in this monthly publication. 

Kagamishi Tsuba

Sasano Masayuki, 1980


Reference on Kagamishi tsuba. Includes an English translation in pamphlet form.

Early Japanese Sword Guards, Sukashi Tusba

Sasano Masayuki

1972, Japan Publications Inc.

ISBN 0-97040-176-9 LCC Card No. 72-79647

There is a lot of overlap between this and the newer Sasano book. It seems to be more readily available these days, though. It is a great book. It is also very interesting to see how Sasano's tastes and opinions changed vs. his final book. 

Oeder, Japanische Schwertzieraten

Oesterheld, Dusseldorf, 1915

Many good iron examples not illustrated elsewhere. The collection disappeared toward the end of WWII. Rumors say that it has resurfaced in Russia.

Tagane no Bi

Matsumoto Seiji, 1997

Has some decent early iron tsuba, followed by a lot of kinko.

Catalogs from the Tosogu Bijutsukan

The Sword Fittings museum in Sugamo puts out very nice illustrated catalogs of its exhibitions. There are over 15 of them out at this point.

Zusetsu Nihonto Yugo Jiten/Japanese Swords a Visual Glossary

Kajihara Kotoken, 1989

This is the most complete glossary on swords and fittings, with pictures and English translation. Definitely worth owning.

Toso Soran

Kazutaro Torigoye

Published by Torigoye in 1978, printed by Sanko.

On tsuba and kodogu with captions in English. Very good.

The Baur Collection

B.W. Robinson

Mostly soft metal, but a very good quality book. Good descriptions of the later schools with nice "family trees."

Collection Catalog B2-Japanese Sword Guards

Kurokawa Institute of Ancient Cultures

Very nice book documenting the collection. Mix of tsuba styles, with a strong emphasis on Higo. Part of a three volume set including one on swords and another on koshirae.

Nihonto Taikan

Homma Junji, Sato Kanichi

Otsuka Kogeish, Tokyo, 1972

There is one volume on koshirae and another on fittings.  One of the best general surveys.

Kanzan Token Koza

Sato Kanzan

1982, Tokyo

This is a 6 volume set on swords with numbers 5 and 6 covering fittings. I only have volume 5, which is a good survey of fittings.

Owari to Mikawa no Tsubako

Okamoto Yasutomo

Toyohashi 1983

This covers the major groups making tsuba in the Owari area.  Very useful.

Kinko Mino Bori

Kokubo Kenichi

1973, Token Shunjo Shinbunsha, Tokyo

A reference on Mino style fittings.

Echizen Kinai Tsuba



A reference on Kinai tsuba.

Tosogu no Kansho

Sasano Masayuki and Saito Mitsuoki

1982, Shoyu Kai, Tokyo

A variety of fittings. Excellent. Japanese with some English captions.

Akasaka Tsuba

1990, Sano Bijutsukan, Shizuoka

Details of the signatures of later generations. Illustrations of various Akasaka.

Nobuie Tsuba

Nakamura Kakudayu

1981, Token Shunju Shinbunsha, Tokyo

Futagoyama Norisuke Ko

NBTHK Nagoya branch group, 1972

Covers the two generations of Norisuke and their followers.  These are the people who made many of the Yamakichi and Yagyu fakes in circulation.  Their original work is very good.

Ko Kogai


Ikedu Suomatsu, Miyake Teruyoshi


Tokyo, 1993


Great reference for anyone interesting in Ko-Kinko, Ko-Goto and Ko-Mino fittings.  A must have for study of kogai, which is what this book is all about.  The organization by motif is a little clumsy to use.

Studies in Kyo Goto (Ko Goto no Kenkyu)


Kasahara Koju, Akimoto Shigeo


Tsujimoto Tadao, Tokyo 1988


This covers side line Goto work.  There is some basic information in English

Kaga Kinko Taikan




Kanazawa, 1983


The source for information on Kaga metal workers.

Swordguards and Fittings from Japan;

The Collection of the Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen

Kodansha, Tokyo 1983

Two volumes of kodogu. The text isn't that helpful, but the illustrations are good and include many pieces not published elsewhere.

Nihonto Ban Zusetsu

Takezawa Masao

Privately printed in an edition of 1,000 in 1968. Illustrations of many unusual tsuba not shown in other books. Japanese, but there is a good index in English.

Japanese Swords and Sword Furniture in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Morihiro Ogawa

Good quality book. Some insightful comments. Not a lot on iron, but good.  Here is an index to the fittings and another to the swords.  These were compiled by Grey Doffin.  Scanning, OCR and conversion to html were done by me.  Apologies to Grey for any errors resulting from this process.

Higo Kinko Taikan

Sato Kenzan, Homma Kunzan, Kashima Susumu

1964, NBTHK, Tokyo

A large reference on Higo fittings, but includes many questionable pieces. 

100 Selected Tsuba from European Public Collections

Robert Haynes and Robert Burawoy


Good photos, good tsuba. There are two versions of this book; one with advertisements in the back and another with a bibliography. Get the one with the bibliography, it is very complete and lists works back into early Edo. Finding these books is of course a different matter. 

Tsuba no Bunkashi

Hatori Jiichiro, 1969

Basic collection of tsuba book, but has some interesting illustrations of very early pieces.

Japanese Sword Fittings & Metalwork in the Lundgren Collection

Privately published


Catalog of the Lundgren collection. There is an all Japanese edition, and a later one that includes a translation. Some good iron pieces and a lot of kinko. It all went to auction at Christie's a few years back.

Tosogu, Treasure of the Samurai

Graham Gemmell

1991, Sarzi-Amande Ltd.

ISBN 0 9517054 0 7

This book covers kodogu, including tsuba, from a wide range of schools. Graham often has a unique perspective on fittings. Interesting reading and some good quality stuff.

The Henry D. Rosin Collection of Japanese Sword Fittings

1993, Syz Ltd.

ISBN 0 9517054 1 5

A "one of each" kodogu sales catalog with some good examples.

Masterpieces from the Randolph B. Caldwell Collection

1994, London, Syz

Another sales catalog.

The Robert E. Haynes, Ltd. Auction Catalogs

These were published in the early-mid 1980s. In addition to photos of the many lots put up for sale (and still circulating today), each edition has part of Bob's translation of Tsuba Geijutsu Ko by Dr. Torigoye Kazutaro. An updated and expanded version of these translations have been published in the Northern California sword club, see above.

Die Meister Der Japanischen Schwertzieraten

Hara Shinkichi

1931, Museums fur Kunst und Gewerbe un Hamburg

OK, it's in German, not English, but it's easy to read. This is a great list of kodogu makers with the Kanji, dates and provinces. It's not much when it comes to pictures, but a very valuable reference for names.  This information is now included within the Haynes index.


Henri Joly

1963, a list of names and kakihan

Waga Ai Tsuba- Sukashi Tusba Hyakusen

Shindo Takeo

1979, Token Shunju Shimbunasha

In Japanese, interesting examples. Not too hard to read. Inexpensive.

Tsuba: Aigan Meihin Shu-Dai Ni Hen

Kamiya Monichiro

1963, Shibata Bijutsu Token Ten Toshobu

Japanese. Nice illustrations, but a mix of tsuba from classic to questionable.


1995, HUB Verlag, Nurtingen

ISBN 3-928802-36-34

The production quality of this book is good. There is some repetition from the Rosin collection catalog. The emphasis is on soft metal works.

The Soul of the Samurai, A Selection of Sword Guards from the Vancouver Museum

1993, The Vancouver Museum

ISBN 1-895817-00-5

A small catalog of a mixed quality collection. Price recently reduced.

Japanese Sword Fittings, Naunton Collection

H.L. Joly

An encyclopedic reference, mostly covering Edo work. Not that useful for studying Muromachi iron tsuba. Some gems buried in it.

Japanese Sword Guards, The Peabody Museum Collection

1975, ISBN 87577-041-X LCC 74-7 603

Simple production. A wide range of tsuba styles. Some incorrect information. Some interesting examples, but probably best for those who can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Tsubas in Southern California


1973; No ISBN

Photos aren't too good, no information other than whose collection the tsuba was in 20+ years ago. Not much help for learning; OK for seeing examples of tsuba if you already know what you're looking at. Also great fun to find your own tsuba in there somewhere.

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