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Let’s visit Fukuoka City Museum and See the Gold Seal, a National Treasure!

The Treasure of Fukuoka City – The Gold Seal, a National Treasure
Those who have seen the seal for the first time might be surprised by how small it is, but those that take a second look will be overwhelmed by the fine workmanship and shiny luster of the 95.1 percent gold seal.

The seal is mentioned in a Chinese history book, “The Hou Hanshu (Book of the Later Han)”. The one found on Shikanoshima Island in 1784 matches the description given in that book.


The story of the gold seal which was found by two farmers: Hideji and Kihei


The gold seal is 2.3 centimeters on each side and weighs 108 grams. The characters engraved on the gold seal read, “The king of the state of Na in Wa under the Han”. (Photo provided by Fukuoka City Museum)

Long ago, a landowner named Jinbei and two farmers, Hideji and Kihei, lived on Shikanoshima Island.
One day when Hideji and Kihei were working at Jinbei’s field, one of the hoes they were using struck something hard.
“I found a rock or something hard in the field,” says Hideji.
“That will get in the way. Let’s get it out of the way,” replied Kihei.
So, they started digging there, and saw a shiny, small box-like shape nestled among three large rocks.
“What’s this?” said Hideji in a surprised voice.
“It’s shiny. It looks like treasure!”
Hideji suggested, “How about we bring it to the town and sell it for a high price?”
“But if they found out it was worth nothing, they might punish us and cut off our heads instead,” Kihei hesitated.
“Alright then, I will tell Jinbei that we found it in the field and he can bring it to the governor for us,” says Hideji.
Kihei agreed saying, “That is a better idea.”

In this way, the gold seal they found was delivered to the governor of Fukuoka Clan through the landowner Jinbei, and a study of the seal was conducted. (*This is but one of many different stories concerning the origin of the gold seal.)

Thanks to Hideji and Kihei who delivered it honestly to the governor, we are able to see for ourselves the gold seal at the museum even today. The site where Hideji and Kihei found the gold seal has been developed into a park. The actual gold seal is on permanent exhibit at Fukuoka City Museum.

A bronze monument for the gold seal can be found in the park. 


A museum that allows photography of the exhibits!


Visitors lined up to photograph the Heshikiri Hasebe sword when it was on exhibit.

Did you know that you can take a photo of the gold seal at the Fukuoka City Museum? The museum now allows visitors to take photos of most permanent and temporary displays, as long as the photos are for personal use only. When the museum exhibited famous swords designated as national treasures and known as “Heshikiri Hasebe (the forceful cutter)” and “Nikko-Ichimonji”, many Japanese sword fans waited in a line to take a picture. We request that visitors are considerate of others when taking pictures. Visitors should avoid using large camera accessories such as flashes or strobes, tripods, stepladders, selfie sticks, and so on. We hope the pictures visitors take can become treasured memories of their visit.

Fukuoka City Museum

  • Momochi , Sawara Area

Take a subway bound for Meinohama from Tenjin or Hakata Station, get off at Nishijin Station and walk 15 minutes.
Take a Nishitetsu bus, get off at either Hakubutsukan Minami-guchi, Hakubutukan Kita-guchi or Fukuoka Tower Minami-guchi stop and walk 5 minutes.

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