Photo/IllutrationA signature handwritten by samurai Sakamoto Ryoma on his original letter (Provided by the Fukui Prefectural Museum of Cultural History)

  • Photo/Illustraion

FUKUI--A rare original letter signed by samurai Sakamoto Ryoma will go on display here at the Fukui Prefectural Museum of Cultural History starting Sept. 22.

Fukui prefectural officials said that the missive, addressed to a retainer of the Fukui domain, bears the signature of Sakamoto (1836-1867).

According to the prefecture, the material is the only original letter by Sakamoto that still exists in Japan and shows his signature, confirmed to be authentic, at its end. The signature comprises the kanji “ma” and the left side of the kanji “ryo.”

The missive, measuring 15.5 centimeters by 51 cm, is owned by an individual.

The letter, dated Oct. 6, 1864, was likely sent from Sakamoto, who was active in the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, to Fukui domain retainer Murata Ujihisa (1821-1899).

It indicates that Sakamoto was happy about Murata’s recovery from illness and mentions Sakamoto’s plan to go to the Kanto region in the near future.

Although another letter dated July 8, 1863, is known to also bear Sakamoto’s signature, the original missive is said to have been destroyed by fire as its whereabouts are unknown.

A photo of the letter to be put on display for the first time was previously shown in a history magazine in 2010. After that, Fukui Prefecture borrowed it from its owner and confirmed it is the original one handwritten by Sakamoto following an expert examination.

The letter will be displayed at the museum’s special exhibition titled “Bakumatsuishin no Gekido to Fukui” (Fukui and agitation in restoration in the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate) until Nov. 4.