In a country as old as Japan, you never know what you’ll find hidden in the depths!

You know how in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing it feels like you catch more old boots than you do actual fish? Having never fished before, I always thought that was kind of ridiculous. How can a tiny hook catch a giant boot? But it turns out that fish hooks can catch on all kinds of things, since one Japanese Twitter user somehow managed to fish up a rusty old gun!

Hiro Himawari (@himawarihiro1 on Twitter) was fishing in a reservoir in Fukuoka when he accidentally hooked the rusty metal barrel of what looks like a matchlock, a type of musket used in Japan from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

▼ It probably would have originally looked like this.

It came up orange with rust, and Himawari initially thought it was just a regular old crowbar. But after using sand to clean some of the surface grime off, he was excited to find that it was, in fact, part of an old rifle. What’s more, he was startled to realize that it could be a historical artifact, since he also discovered some kind of family crest engraved on it.

This crest appears to look like a plum blossom, with five circles surrounding a pentagon that contains a sixth, smaller circle. Apparently, it’s known as “umebachi”, and many netizens who saw it on Twitter were surprised to note that their own family uses the same symbol. One of those users was even from as far away as Fukushima Prefecture, far to the northeast from Fukuoka, so it’s hard to say what the true origin of the crest might be.

No experts weighed in on whether the crest belongs to a particular family, but Twitter was ripe with theories. To one commenter, it appears to be similar to the crest of the Maeda family, which ruled over the Kaga domain.

The problem is that Kaga took up most of present-day Ishikawa and Toyama Prefectures, which are along the Japan Sea side of central Japan. That makes the appearance of this crest on a gun in Kyushu, in southern Japan, even more mysterious.

However, the Maeda Clan is said to have descended from the famous scholar and poet Sugawara no Michizane, who was exiled to Dazaifu City, in present-day Fukuoka, during the Heian Period. So it’s possible that this crest is a derivative of the Maeda clan’s crest, and perhaps represents a line of Sugawara’s descendants that remained in the Fukuoka area over the centuries. 

But there’s more to the mystery: upon closer inspection, Himawari also found some characters carved into the metal:

▼ In this picture, the characters are upside down.

According to a sharp-eyed netizen, the words seem to read “Iwaki Teisuke (岩木禎祐)”, which they speculated could be the name of the blacksmith who cast it. Upon a quick Internet search, the netizen found that there are other guns with such an inscription, so it could also be a mark of the manufacturer that produced this type of gun.

Whatever the case, Himawari appears to have been enjoying the process of unraveling the mystery of the gun, and has expressed interest in taking it to experts who could tell him its true origins. Though many netizens warned him that being in possession of the gun, however rusty, could be a violation of Japan’s strict gun laws, he seems to intend to keep it, unless it has any value, in which case he will hand it over to an appropriate institution.

Source, images: Twitter/@himawarihiro1
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