That is arguably the most beautiful tsuba I've ever seen. Notice the scratches parallel the blade slot? It is likely that is from steel-on-steel practice (albeit a short lived practice, as there are very few marks); I see that fairly frequently on blunted practice swords, though the cuts are not as defined. I could be wrong; maybe it's just from fitting the tsuba to the blade with a rough tool... or something like that.
Having trained with both for a very long time, under different teachers who came from different schools of thought, In the end they remain remarkably similar in principle, however they differ greatly in application.
I can tell you that I personally prefer the utility offered by the western pattern swords. The elongated quilions offer several advantages over the Japanese tsuba, as does the back edge and straight taper. Also, with small exception to some disarming techniques, Japanese schools do not teach techniques like half-swording or "wind and bind," which in historical context makes the longsword superior in its more dynamic application on the battlefield against armored troops. The Katana was a back-up weapon used in duels and indoor scenarios, but never as a primary. As Thom Noblitt has pointed out above: In war, that was a roll filled by the pike and spear.
Katanas do one thing well and with style: cut. But one should never say that the western longsword can't match it's cutting power, because it certainly can and often will if done with a well designed and well maintained blade.
In my circle (and I know many of you might disagree, but this opinion was formed by many individuals with years of experience) the Katana is considered sub par for practical use against anyone other than an opponent who is unarmored and equipped with a lesser weapon, because they lack good defensive options. Katana duels are often "fleshy," or in other words both opponents, Regardless of their mastery or skill, get mortally wounded (and Japanese schools often acknowledge that fact), as were a duel between two men with western swords are often less costly for the "winner" because of a more sound defensive/return capability offered by the long swords design and application.
I do respect the Katana, as I was first introduced to schools that practiced some form of Bushido, but It would not be my first choice for a personal weapon for the reasons I've stated above. However, In truth I would be hesitant to have a long sword fill that roll as well, regardless; though that is a whole new issue in its self.
I made a few out of old pulley hooks. The steel is often a mystery, but this particular axe is ridiculously tough and it hardened quite nicely on the edge. Sometimes they have manufacturing specs on the sides, if you are lucky, but not the case here. I opened the loop at the end of the hook and welded it onto an eye I made for better stability. These things make great axes, and are relatively easier to work with given their natural axe-like shape. With a little work, you could probably forge one into the desired shape.
The one below is still unfinished and kinda on the ugly side, but you can use it for reference, at least.