Late 18th to early 19th century iron Japanese sword tsuba with multimetal inlays depicting Urashima Taro seated on a beach, an open box in front of him, the back showing his fishing rod and a woven basket. Urashima Tarō was a fisherman who rescued a turtle and was carried on its back to the Dragon Palace beneath the sea where he spent what he thought to be 4 or 5 days, but upon his return to his village he finds himself 300 years in the future. When he opens the box he was told never to open, he turns into an old man. Wonderful detailing - see his excellently defined face, toes and fingers, shells covering a rock in waves, his straw skirt and braided cords of the box. Copper, silver and shakudo inlays, gilding. Old collection number in red by nakago, beautiful patina. Height 2 11/16 inches.