At the age of 15, he was sent to the domain"s school, where he learned English and Dutch, and afterwards was sent to Edo, where he studied rangaku.
He was hired by the Tokugawa bakufu as an interpreter, and accompanied Fukuzawa Yukichi on the Kanrin-maru to the United States in 1860. After the Meiji Restoration, Tsuda joined the new Meiji government, and enthusiastically embraced the rapid westernization drive. He opened the first western style hotel in Tsukiji in 1867, near the foreign settlement.
He also spent time with the Hokkaido Colonization Office, where he made close contacts with future Prime Minister Kuroda Kiyotaka.
Tsuda also influenced the creation of the Friends School, a women"s junior and senior high school established in 1887 in Tokyo. After returning to Japan in May 1874, he opened the Gakunosha Nogakko (Gakunosha School of Agriculture) in Azabu, Tokyo and worked to introduce and promote Western vegetables (particularly corn) and fruits.
He initially sold the corn by mail advertisement, and is thus also the first such entrepreneur in Japan. He also established a magazine, Nogyo Zasshi, aimed at the agricultural market.
A supporter of agrarian rights, he was involved in the Ashio Copper Mine Scandal, one of Japan"s first environmental disputes.
He was involved in most of the work to create the early foundation of Aoyama Gakuin. He died on the Tokaido line train of a cerebral hemorrhage, and his funeral was held in the auditorium of Aoyama Gakuin, and his grave is at Aoyama Cemetery.