Category Archives: JAPAN

A Japanese farmer digging a ditch found the precious gold seal of King of Na

The precious King of Na gold seal was discovered by a Japanese farmer digging a ditch

The concept of a national treasure came into being at roughly the same moment as a national anthem, both of which are typical of romantic nationalism in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Many nations have been creating lists of their national treasures ever since. There are now thousands of such cherished items can be seen around the world.

Although some items or artifacts are seen as common cultural property, others may carry exceptional monetary value. Frequently, such items are rare cultural artifacts, and one story about such an artifact, and how it was found, brings us to Japan.

The Far Eastern country has some 46 items or sets of items in its possession, many of which originated in ancient or feudal-Japanese periods.

They are kept in various temples, shrines, universities, or museums, and one very special item of the 46 can be seen as part of the collection of the Fukuoka City Museum in Fukuoka. It is the King of Na gold seal.

Snake knob of the King of Na gold seal, the item is not more than 0.9 × 0.9 × 0.9 in.

As the story goes, this solid gold seal was discovered in 1784 on Shikanoshima Island in the Fukuoka Prefecture. It is thought that the seal was cast in China, after which it was delivered to Japan as an honorable gift by the Emperor Guangwu of Han while conducting a diplomatic visit to the island country in 57 AD.

Five Chinese characters are embedded in the unique seal, and studying them has helped historians identify the seal as belonging to the King of the Na, ruling the state of the Wa, which was a vassal state of the Han Dynasty in Japan.

As ancient Chinese chronicles suggest, the seal followed a pattern used with Chinese jade seals. However, what really makes it so special is that it is made of gold.

Composite image showing two views of the seal.

That same year, the King of the Na had sent envoys to the capital of China to return the honorable deed by offering tribute and formal greetings for the New Year.

The vassal state, which had thrived in the Fukuoka district, ceased to exist at some point during the 3rd century AD, and the seal was quickly lost and forgotten. It was rediscovered some 1,500 years later, which makes for one of the most striking episodes in the entire story.

Snake knob from the top view.

It would be an Edo-period farmer named Jinbei who discovered the invaluable item on April 12, 1784, while attempting to repair an irrigation ditch on Shikanoshima Island.

Reportedly, the seal was found surrounded by stones arranged in a box-like structure. The stone above the seal, being quite heavy, required two adults to lift it.

Seal face of the King of Na gold seal. Inscribed with King of Na, Vassal of Han [Dynasty] in mirrored Chinese characters

The discovery of the golden seal was of great importance because it helped acknowledge and verify the very existence of Nankoku, the vassal state, which had previously been known only from ancient chronicles.

Engraved upon the seal can be read the Chinese characters 漢委奴國王(Kan no Wa no Na-no-Koku-ō), which translates to “seal of the King of the Na state of the Wa of the Han Dynasty.”

As soon as it was rediscovered, the seal was kept by the Kuroda clan, who held authority and power over the Fukuoka district. Eventually, the family donated the seal to Fukuoka city in 1978.

Commemorative monument near the site where the seal was uncovered in 1784.

The gold of the seal is of a remarkable 95 percent purity. It is made up of a square base, showing the seal itself on the bottom side.

The ancient design also features a handle on the top of the base, resembling the shape of a coiled serpent, and it weights 3.85 ounces. Base to handle, the seal does not extend more than an inch, but the dimensions do correspond to the traditional Chinese standard unit of length, typical for the Later Han Dynasty.

The area on Shikanoshima Island where the Gold Seal of the King of Na was found was later developed into a park to commemorate the discovery, the park was given the name Kin-in Park. The island itself is no more than seven miles around but is connected to the Japanese mainland by a road.

Rusty Blade Found In An Attic Turns Out To Be A Priceless Samurai Sword From The 12th Century

Rusty Blade Found In An Attic Turns Out To Be A Priceless Samurai Sword From The 12th Century.

The kohoki blade pulled from the attic of the Kasuga Taisha shrine.

If you’ve ever thought that your attic was just full of old junk, you may want to think again.

A rusty blade pulled from an attic decades ago was just revealed to be one of the oldest Japanese samurai swords in existence.

The sword was found covered in rust, in the attic of the Kasuga Taisha shrine in Japan.

Though the discovery of the sword actually took place in 1939, it was only this year that the shrine’s officials realized what the blade actually was.

During a ceremony that takes place every 20 years, the officials sharpened the blades to honor the traditional ceremony of shrine building.

When the blade was cleaned, the sword was discovered to be from the 12th century, making it one of the oldest in existence.

The kohoki blade is believed to be from the 12th century.

The 32-inch sword, known as a kohoki, was likely an heirloom sword, made for a samurai and passed down through his family.

Experts believe it was crafted during the Heian Period (794-1185) and given to the shrine as a gift sometime between the Nanboku-Cho Period (1336-1392) and the Muromachi Period (1338-1573).

The blade has a characteristic curved shape, which helped experts date it, as ancient Japanese swords, found in ruins or other temples, were known to be straight.

As well as the blade itself, experts have been studying the handle and the exterior portions of the sword.

Though there is no craftsman signature, some experts believe that the blade could have been made by a famed swordsmith known as Yasutsuna, as blades are known to have been made by him carry some of the same patterns as the kohoki.

Along with the kohoki, 12 other blades were found in the Kasuga Taisa shrine’s attic, though none as ancient or valuable as the kohoki.

After it was cleaned and examined, the sword was placed on display at the Kasugataisha Museum at the Kasuga Taisha shrine, where it will stay through the end of March.