Saturday, June 10, 2023

Historic katana found missing in Australia

Etchu Norishige was one of the greatest swordsmen of 14th century Japan. The Sword Master’s Forge was located in the Ni area, present-day Toyama Prefecture. They supplied their katanas, which were of the highest quality, to warriors of the Kamakura period throughout Japan.

Excellently crafted weapons have stood the test of time and are passed down from generation to generation. One of the finest katana came into the possession of Shimazu Norioki, the 27th lord of the Shimazu clan, who ruled Satsuma Domain (present-day Kagoshima) some 200 years earlier. However, the historical blade’s journey did not end here, as it eventually ended in Australia, where it has now been rediscovered.

Collector explores history and ends up in Japan

The current owner of the sword is Melbourne-based sword collector Ian Brooks. Four years ago, the collector discovered at an Internet auction an extremely high quality katana, which he had bought for around Australian dollars 5,300 (about 3,400 euros). After receiving the gun the collector was initially skeptical and surprised that the quality was as high as described. He then began researching the history of the katana because he wanted to know what it once meant.

Based on the length and engraving on the handguard, the Australian suspected that it was an unsigned sword by the famous smith Norishige, with most masters usually leaving a clear engraving there. The historic katana, nicknamed “Mumei Norishige”, had already been declared part of a Japanese national treasure, but was believed to have been lost for decades.

Upon closer examination of a faint Japanese text wrapped around the scabbard, he could make out a few characters. They correspond to the last three letters of the name of Kagoshima Shrine, a temple in the city of Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture. Lord Shimazu is said to have donated the sword Mumei Norishige to the temple two centuries ago. This temple is still standing at the same place today. Brooks approached the shrine, and both sides were quickly convinced that the katana that had been auctioned was in fact a missing national treasure.

return to kagoshima

How the sword left Japan is still unknown. It was reportedly confiscated by the Allied occupation forces after World War II. Brooks bought it from a buyer in New York. The Collector is certain that attempts have been made to question the meaning of the sword in the past, but due to insufficient communication, a suitable connection could not be made.

Since the katana Mumei Norishige is an unsigned sword, the Japanese Authority for Cultural Affairs would like to make a final assessment. It should then be clarified whether this is really a historical katana. However, the probability is high, as the listing number on the scabbard case matches the temple records.

Brooks said that he would like to keep the sword as long as he lives. In his will, however, he stipulated that after his death the relic would be returned to the temple in Kagoshima. Before that, however, he hopes to be able to visit the temple himself. The head priest of the shrine said he did not expect the historic katana to return to Japan.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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