Shota Horie will join fellow Otago player Fumiaki Tanaka in becoming the first Japanese players to compete in Super Rugby's 17-year history after the Melbourne Rebels recruited the hooker for the 2013 season.
Horie, who has won 19 Test caps for Japan, was signed from Sonny Bill Williams' club Panasonic Wild Knights based near Tokyo and his addition completes the Rebels' 30-man roster.
The 26-year-old will battle incumbent hooker Ged Robinson and Ryan Tyrrell for game time and caught the eye of the Rebels after turning out for Otago in this year's ITM Cup in New Zealand.
Horie will join the Rebels in early December and will be available for international selection with the Cherry Blossoms throughout the Super Rugby season.
"I am honoured to become a part of the Melbourne Rebels," said the 105kg Horie.
"I would like to contribute to the team's success as much as I can and also to prove the potential of Japanese players in Super Rugby."
The Rebels signed former Western Force rake Tyrrell and Horie after the losses of Adam Freier (retirement), Luke Holmes (NSW Waratahs) and Heath Tessmann (released) at the end of last season.
Rebels coach Damien Hill, who spent three years coaching in Japan with Suntory, is looking forward to welcoming Horie to the Victorian capital.
"The work ethic of all Japanese players is of the highest order," said Hill.
"To have him as part of this club will have an immediate impact."
"Culture and values are a strong part of Japan, as they are here at the Rebels, and we are thrilled to have Shota on board."
Horie joins Highlanders halfback Tanaka as one of two Japanese signings in Super Rugby for 2013.
The latest signing completes a busy off-season recruitment phase by the Rebels as they prepare for their third Super Rugby season after finishing a lowly 13th in 2012.
While Wallabies backrower Scott Higginbotham is their most high-profile gain from the Queensland Reds, the Rebels have also attracted Scott Fuglistaller (Otago Highlanders), Jason Woodward (Wellington Lions), Rory Sidey (Western Force), Kimami Sitauti (ACT Brumbies), Chris Thomson (Narbonne) and Alex Rokobaro (Stade Francais).