Iron Tsuba with Benkei and Mii-Dera Bell - Nara School
Iron tsuba decorated with Benkei and Mii-Dera temple blade. Tsuba has an NBTHK Tokubetsu Kichio origami with attribution to Nara School. However overall feeling of this tsuba points more to 19th century Mito School.
Tsuba made of iron. Dragon heads on top of the bell are most probably made from a different iron than base of the tsuba. Color difference in natural light is very subtle but with flash photography it becomes clear.
Tsuba decorated with copper inlay, gilded copper inlay and silver inlay.
On tsuba famous "Saitō Musashibō Benkei (西塔武蔵坊弁慶, 1155-1189), popularly known as simply Benkei, was a Japanese warrior monk who lived in the latter years of the Heian Period. Benkei led a varied life, first becoming a monk, then a mountain ascetic, and then a rogue warrior. He later came to respect and serve the famous warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune." - Wikipedia
Depicted steeling famous bell from Mi-Dera temple and taking it up mount Hiei. This is a huge bell that weights around 1000 kg. So the story is about amazing strength of Benkei.
There are a lot of amazing stories about life of Benkei.