"Minakuchi Rapier" Found to Be Japan MadeTraditional Rapier Handed Down to Shrine in Shiga
"Minakuchi Rapier," a cross-shaped Western sword handed down at Fujisaka Shrine in Minakuchi-cho, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture, was revealed to have been made in Japan about 400 years ago and modeled after European rapiers (slender, Western-style swords). Minakuchi History and Folklore Museum in Koka City and other organizations announced their joint research results at the International Council of Museums (ICOM) Kyoto 2019 on September 3.
The Minakuchi Rapier is the only one remaining in Japan and its existence is unknown even in Asia. The people concerned believe that the rapier shows a rare example of one type of Eastern and Western cultural exchange; a person of power at the time gained a rapier from an early European visitor and had an artisan create a replica out of curiosity.
The cross-shaped Western sword is owned by Fujisaka Shrine which enshrines Yoshiaki Kato, a warlord of the Sengoku Period and ancestor of the Kato clan. The sword has been kept at the museum since 1987.
Joint research was conducted for six years by Koji Kobayashi of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and professional groups from Japan and abroad. Their results clarified that the Minakuchi Rapier is an exquisite replica, which was based on even earlier 17th century rapiers, then made by bringing together technologies in Japan.
Akiko Nagai, associate manager of Minakuchi History and Folklore Museum, who jointly announced the research results with Kobayashi at the ICOM session, said, "Announcing the value of treasures which have been carefully protected in a region at the international conference will also lead to citizens' pride in it." The cross-shaped Western sword is on display as a spot exhibit at Minakuchi History and Folklore Museum until January 29, 2020. There is an admission fee.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)