Akasaka

The Akasaka (赤坂) area exists to this day as a residential and commercial area in the Minato ward of Tokyo. It lies in hilly area southwest of where Edo castle lay, and closest to it the Akasaka-mitsuke (Akasaka Guard Post) protected that zone of Edo castle. While there are several theories as to the origins of it's name, a common explanation is that it alluded to the Common Madder Plant that grew in the area. Madder plant roots were used to produce a red (in japanese “aka” 赤) dye, and thus the name “red slope”, or Akasaka evolved.

According to a hand written note accompanying the tsuba, it was originally mounted on a large Hizen Koku Tadayoshi Katana that was part of a Daisho set belonging to the Sanada family. The katana is noted as having been 2 shaku 7 sun (over 81 cm) in length, so the tsubas size and design characterize it consistantly as a mount-intended presentation piece. The Daisho was brought by Yukitsura to the Sanada family upon his adoption from the Matsudaira clan. Yukitsura ascended to the 8th Generation Sanada Daimyo, and from 1823-1852 he served as Rōjū (a member of the Shogun's Council of Elders) and head of a Han school which educated daimyo family children. The Sanada clan ruled part of Shinano province under the Takeda clan in the 16th century, were subsequent rulers of Northern Shinano and Kozuke under Toyotomi Hideyoshi. They were held in high favor by the Tokugawa Shogunate as they had been married into it with the first Sanada Daimyo married to Ieyasu's adopted daughter. The latter event was instrumental in their being afforded status, privileges, and finances, a level above their official rank. Sadly, the Tadayoshi Daisho was confiscated by US occupational forces at the close of World War II, but the tsuba was retained as an heirloom and memory of the daisho. Curious imaginations swirl about where the swords, and a “sho” tsuba might reside today.

Akasaka tsuba are ubiquitous in sukashi form, so a solid plate such as this is a rare and unusual departure in and of itself from the normal creations that spanned nine generations, but also is of highly unusual large dimension, contributing further to unique rarity. It is signed “Bushu Ju Akasaka” on the ura and “Tadatoki Saku” on the omote, and though the Hozon paper does not note the exact generation, the stroke order and character are consistent for the ninth and last generation.

Dimensions: 106.5 mm x 91.5 mm x 6 mm

The exaggerated rectangular mokko shape is skillfully and attractively carved, with kanji inscribed around the interior perimeter of both sides. While the kanji are distinguishable, their meaning is still under study and will be added to this description later, or provided to the buyer once deciphered. The patina is a lovely deep crimson with purple hue. The single kozuka hitsu is lined with a shakudo insert.

Considering that Akasaka Tadatoki, and Sanada Yukitsura were contemporaries, it could be considered that this tsuba was perhaps made in recognition of Yukitsura's adoption into the Sanada family, and/or ascension as Sanada Daimyo.


This tsuba is an excellent opportunity to add an important and rare example of Akasaka Tadatoki to a collection. It is held in a custom made box and fabric sleeve, with a wooden tag noting the maker and heirloom of the Sanada family. The accompanying NBTHK Hozon papers attest to its authenticity.

On Consignment: $6,850.00