A saber presented by Britain's Queen Victoria to a Japanese official, who saved the life of a British consul in Japan in the late days of the feudal era, has been discovered in Tokyo.
In 1868, shortly after the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the launch of the Meiji government, British Consul Harry Parkes was heading to the Kyoto Imperial Palace for an audience with the Emperor. On the way, he was attacked by traditionalists who wanted to expel foreigners.
Goto Shojiro and other samurai were escorting the consul. They disarmed the assailants. Parkes was not hurt in the attack.
Queen Victoria later sent Goto a saber to show Britain's appreciation.
The saber is inscribed with the date of the attack and Goto's name. It is about 96 centimeters long. A lion's head, carved in ivory, is attached to the hilt.
The saber was missing for a long time, but it was found in the stack room of the Seikado Bunko Library in Tokyo.
It was found along with an elaborately decorated sheath and belt, as well as a letter from Parkes praising Goto's courage and quick judgment.
The saber was likely stored in the library because the institution's founder, Iwasaki Yanosuke, the second president of Mitsubishi, was married to Goto's daughter.
The saber is scheduled to be put on display at the Seikado Bunko Art Museum next month.