(Kamakura Bori)


Early Muromachi to early Edo period.

Basic Shape:



Usually a well proportioned oval delineated by 'in-no-sukashi' as part of the plates design.

Design Characteristics:

The designs employed on kamakura-bori tsuba are executed by a carving technique known as usuniku-bori which is accomplished by removing a little of the flat surface of the plate ground leaving a raised design but level with the ground in low relief. Usually accompanied by a form of piercing known as in-no-sukashi, or ko-sukashi. In-no-sukashi refers to the type of negative piercing known as shadow or silhouette, where the pierced area represents the silhouette, or reflected shadow, of the object depicted by cutting the outline of the subject in the ground. This technique is the oldest form of piercework on tsuba and is seen on old tsuba by swordsmiths, armorers, Onin, and kamakura-bori types as well as some tsuba of later date.

Dr. Torigoye describes kamakura-bori tsuba being thin plate with low relief carving, or bas-relief, in large bold patterns or picturesque designs. Some have small openwork of a naive type. The common motifs are plum flowers, cherry flowers, grass, wild geese, mountains, waves, clouds, and the moon.


It was the samurai class who kept this style alive for more than two hundred years. The samurai saw in the Kamakura tsuba his own ideal of taste and reserve.

Ex. Robert Haynes Collection 2011
Prototypical Example.
Middle Muromachi Period.
Cherry Bloom & Tumble Doll.
8.2cm x 8.15cm x 0.25cm

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