NBTHK American Branch
The Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK), or the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords, was founded in Japan shortly after WWII and has existed since with the approval of the Japanese government. NBTHK is dedicated to preserving Japanese Art Swords and related items through study and research, educating students and enthusiasts of Japanese swords and sword fittings, while also supporting specialist craftsman in sword restoration and conservation trades.
With the support and assistance of the NBTHK Home Office, an American Branch of the NBTHK was formally established in February of 2003 with the mission of providing opportunities for similar study and education in North America. This is achieved through:
- Series of educational updates and events
- Regularly scheduled lectures and displays
- Information and presence at regional US sword shows
- New Zoom Japanese Sword Kantei and Fittings presentations
- English language translation of the monthly NBTHK Journal
- Various articles and translations to American Branch members
Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK)
Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Sword
On February 23, 1948, the NBTHK was established for the purpose of preserving Japanese Art Swords. Since its founding over 75 years ago, it has been the leading organization solely devoted to the study and preservation of the Nihonto or Japanese Sword.
One of the primary purposes of the Society is to preserve Japanese Art Swords that are registered with the Japanese government. Every hand forged sword in Japan that has artistic merit is registered and issued a Torokusho by the government. This small (about 3” x 4”) laminated paper gives a registration number, date, place of registration, name, length, and other identifying details. There are thousands of Torokusho registered and each year, the NBTHK adds more to the permanent registry, classified according to the merits of each sword.
The Society not only classifies swords, but each year holds contests for sword making, sword polishing, shirasaya making, and habaki and kodogu (fittings) making. They also hold classes for the study of sword polishing.
The general offices and most of the activities were originally in the Token Hakubutsukan (Sword Museum), which is currently located in Yoyogi, Tokyo. In May of 1968, the construction of this building was finished and the Society moved from the Tokyo National Museum into their new headquarters.
In 2018 the NBTHK moved offices to: 1-12-9, Yokoami, Sumidaku, Tokyo. This location is near the Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Stadium)
Gardens behind NBTHK Museum
The NBTHK, with the support of the National Treasury and Hitachi Metals, Inc., also supervises the operation of the Tatara (iron smelting furnace) in Yokota, Shimane. This furnace is crucial to the production of Tamahagane, the traditional raw steel used in the creation of true Nihonto. Every year, the Tatara produces several tons of Tamahagane to be distributed to licensed swordsmiths for the crafting of beautiful contemporary Japanese Art swords.
NBTHK – American Branch Directors and Advisors
- Paul L. Davidson, President
- Jim Gilbert, Vice President
- Fred Geyer, Secretary ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
- Nick Kolick, Asst Vice President ( email@example.com )
- James Lawson, Asst Vice President
- Richard Mantegani, Treasurer ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Board of Directors
- Robert Benson
- Michael Yamasaki
- Fred Weissberg
- Ted Tenold
- Bill Miller
NBTHK Shinsa Schedule for 2020
Hozon and Tokubetsu Hozon Sword Shinsa
Hozon and Tokubetsu Hozon Fittings and Koshirae Shinsa
Juyo Sword, Fittings, and Koshirae Shinsa
Tokubetsu Juyo Sword, Fittings, and Koshirae Shinsa
There are no Shinsa scheduled for the months of
If an item is submitted for hozon and tokubetsu-hozon at the same time, the item is with passing hozon automatically forwarded to tokobetsu-hozon shinsa. When submitting for hozon and tokubetsu-hozon, the same fees as with separate submission apply when the item does not pass hozon or passes hozon and not tokubetsu-hozon. Only if the item passes both instances, i.e. hozon and tokubetsu-hozon shinsa, a reduction is granted.
This reduction is as follows: One saves ¥ 5,000 compared to submitting tôken and tôsô (koshirae) separately for hozon and tokubetsu-hozon (¥ 55,000 instead of ¥ 25,000 + ¥ 35,000) and ¥ 3,000 compared to submitting tôsôgu separately for hozon and tokubetsu-hozon (¥ 44,000 instead of ¥ 17,000 + ¥ 30,000).
(amended by May 19, 2015)
Special thanks to Markus Sesko and James Lawson
- Edo and earlier blades with correct mei, or mumei blades on which the time period, kuni and group can be identified, may receive Hozon paper.
- Blades that meet the criteria given above can receive Hozon paper even if they are slightly tired or have kizu, as long as those may be permissible in their appreciation.
- Repair on jiba is permissible, unless it significantly impairs the beauty of the blade.
- Blades made in the Meiji period and later can receive Hozon paper only when the blade is well made and zaimei.
- For Nambokucho and earlier zaimei blades by famous smiths, re-temper can be permissible if the blade is valuable as a reference, and if the jiba and nakago are sufficiently well preserved. However, this will be documented as “yaki-naoshi” in the paper.
- Blades are put to “reservation” (horyu) if a decision could not easily be made on the authenticity of the mei. This also applies to mumei blades in which an attribution is difficult to make.
Tokubetsu Hozon Token
- Blades with Hozon papers, good workmanship and state of preservation can receive Tokubetsu Hozon paper.
- Blades with the following conditions are excluded from point 1.
- Re-tempered blades may not receive a Tokubetsu Hozon paper, as a rule, unless they date not later than Nanbokucho, are zaimei, by famous smiths, if the blade is valuable as a reference, and if the jiba and nakago are sufficiently well preserved. However, this will be documented as “yaki-naoshi” in the paper.
- Muromachi and Edo period mumei blades may not receive a Tokubetsu Hozon paper, as a rule. However, if a blade is attributable to a famous smith and in excellent condition it may receive Tokubetsu Hozon paper.
Blades with Tokubetsu Hozon paper can receive Juyo if one of the following points is true:
- Blades of extremely high-quality workmanship and state of preservation, and judged as close to Juyo Bijutsuhin, may receive Juyo Token paper.
- Blades that meet the criteria given above and made in or before Nambokucho may receive Juyo Token paper even if they are mumei. Blades made in the Muromachi period must be zaimei and blades from the Edo period and later, as a rule, must be ubu and zaimei to receive Juyo Token paper.
Tokubetsu Juyo Token
Among Juyo Token, the ones of excellent quality and superior condition, judged as the same as the top level Juyo Bijutsuhin, or conceivable as equivalent value as Juyo Bunkazai, may receive Tokubetsu Juyo Token paper.
- Momoyama and earlier koshirae with some faults or repairs can receive Hozon as long as they show the characteristic features of their time and if their value is high as a reference.
- Edo koshirae may receive Hozon if they are in good preservation and if their value is high as a reference.
- Koshirae made in Meiji and later may receive Hozon if they reflect a preservation of the craft and are excellently made. However, works of living artists cannot be submitted to Shinsa.
- Koshirae with missing kozuka and/or kogai may receive Hozon if the other fittings and the lacquer of the saya show a good workmanship and if the mounting as a whole is of a certain aesthetic quality. However, missing kozuka and/or kogai are mentioned as “kozuka-ketsu” or “kogai-ketsu” respectively on the paper.
- Koshirae of which fittings, e.g. kozuka or kogai are gimei may receive Hozon if the other, authentic fittings and the lacquer of the saya show a good workmanship and if the mounting as a whole is of a certain aesthetic quality. However, non-authentic kozuka or kogai are mentioned as “kozuka-ketsu” or “kogai-ketsu” respectively or as “… to mei ga aru” (“bears the signature…”) on the paper.
- Koshirae with fittings whose signature(s) need further study, but which do show the workmanship of the artist may receive Hozon if these fittings are in harmony with the other elements of the mounting, e.g. the other fittings, the hilt, and the lacquer of the saya. However, such fittings are mentioned as “to mei ga aru” (bears the signature) on the paper.
- Koshirae with a repaired or renewed tsukamaki may receive Hozon if the hilt wrapping is in harmony with the lacquer of the saya and the other elements of the mounting and if it is of a certain artistic quality.
- Koshirae are put to “reservation” (horyu) if a decision could not be made.
- Except for aikuchi-style mountings, koshirae without tsuba are rejected.
- Foreign made koshirae cannot be submitted to Shinsa.
Tokubetsu Hozon Toso
Koshirae with Hozon paper can receive Tokubetsu Hozon if one of the following points is true:
- If the workmanship is very good, the mounting shows relative few faults, and is in a good state of preservation.
- Edo period koshirae only if they show very little repair and are of an excellent workmanship.
- Meiji and later koshirae only in perfect condition and of an excellent workmanship.
- Koshirae of all periods with fittings by not famous artists can receive Tokubetsu Hozon if they can be regarded as among the very best works of the maker and if the mounting is of a certain overall aesthetic quality.
Koshirae with Tokubetsu Hozon paper may receive Juyo if one of the following points is true:
- If of extremely high-quality workmanship, of a very high artistic value and judged as close to Juyo Bijutsuhin.
- Koshirae from all periods with fittings by not famous artists may receive Juyo if these fittings can be regarded as among the very best works of the maker, if the mounting reflects the characteristic features of its time of production and if the mounting as a whole is of an extremely high artistic value.
Tokubetsu Juyo Toso
Koshirae with Juyo Toso paper can receive Tokubetsu Juyo if one of the following points is true:
- Koshirae of excellent quality and superior condition may receive Tokubetsu Juyo if their value is extremely high as art and reference work for our country.
- Koshirae may receive Tokubetsu Juyo if they are judged as the same as the top level Juyo Bijutsuhin or conceiveable as equivalent value as Juyo Bunkazai.
- Fittings up to the Edo period with correct mei, or mumei fittings on which the time period and school can be identified, and which are of a certain artistic quality may receive Hozon.
- Fittings that meet the criteria given above can receive Hozon paper even if they show some wear or are slightly damaged, as long as those may be permissible in their appreciation.
- Repair is permissible, unless it significantly impairs the beauty of the fitting.
- Fittings made in Meiji times and later which are of good quality and condition.
- Cast fittings that are of high class and worthy being appreciated can receive Hozon if they do not date later than Edo.
- Contemporary cast fittings will be rejected.
- Works of iron that show a minor fire damage or a slightly damaged patina can receive Hozon if these damages do not significantly impair the aesthetic quality of the piece.
- Fittings are put to “reservation” (horyu) if a decision could not easily be made on the authenticity of the mei. This also applies to mumei fittings in which an attribution is difficult to make.
- Cast fittings made in Meiji times and later will be rejected.
- Foreign made fittings cannot be submitted to Shinsa.
Tokubetsu Hozon Tosogu
Fittings with Hozon papers can receive Tokubetsu Hozon if one of the following points is true:
- Fittings with good workmanship and state of preservation.
- Fittings with excellent workmanship and which are in terms of signature and/or workmanship valuable references.
- Fittings of all periods by not famous artists can receive Tokubetsu Hozon if they can be regarded as among the very best works of the maker and if they are of a certain overall aesthetic quality.
- Fittings which reflect a preservation of the craft, are extremely well made, and are of a certain overall aesthetic quality.
Fittings with Hozon papers cannot receive Tokubetsu Hozon if one of the following points is true:
- Either zaimei or mumei fittings which show significant repair or remodeling.
- If they are top grade kinko works but whose surface, motif areas or coloration is so much polished down that the characteristics of age can no longer be judged.
- If they are of a good quality but the mei is no longer decipherable.
Fittings with Tokubetsu Hozon papers may receive Juyo if one of the following points is true:
- If of extremely high-quality workmanship, of a very high artistic value, and judged as close to Juyo Bijutsuhin.
- Fittings from all periods with fittings by not famous artists may receive Juyo if these fittings can be regarded as among the very best works of the maker and if they are of an extremely high artistic value.
Common matters for all categories of papers
- If a kizu or other fault or weakness is discovered during Shinsa which is detrimental to the appreciation, an item may not pass.
- Works of living artists can not be submitted for Shinsa.
- In the case items are submitted with older or lower papers and do not pass an initial or higher Shinsa respectively, they are returned with the remark “genjo” (“returned as submitted”)
NBTHK Shinsa Fees
Shinsa Fee List
* 2,000 Yen is charged on each shinsa fee when the applicant is not a NBTHK member.
* Shinsa fee is not charged when the result of shinsa is in “Horyu” (Reserved).
Hozon & Tokubetsu Hozon
|Passing shinsa||Rejected/Status quo|
|25,000 yen||10,000 yen|
|Tosogu||17,000 yen||7,000 yen|
|35,000 yen||10,000 yen|
|Tosogu||30,000 yen||7,000 yen|
|Passing shinsa||Rejected/Status quo|
|220,000 yen||21,000 yen|
|Tosogu||120,000 yen||15,000 yen|
* Items submitted to the Juyo shinsa must have Tokubetsu Hozon papers.
|Passing shinsa||Rejected/Status quo|
|340,000 yen||31,000 yen|
|Tosogu||240,000 yen||21,000 yen|
* Items submitted to Tokubetsu Juyo shinsa must have Juyo papers.
Reissuing of Papers
The following basic requirements must be observed:
- Only damaged or stained papers (hozon, tokubetsu-hozon, jûyô, tokubetsu-jûyo) are reissued. Lost papers are generally not reissued. In the latter case, the item has to be newly submitted again (exception see below).
- Both existing paper and item have to be authentic.
- For assessment of point 2, both, i.e. existing paper and item, have to be sent to the NBTHK Tokyo. With this submission, the owner agrees to our conditions of custody and to the condition that the NBTHK can not make binding statements on the duration of the entire process of reissuing.
|hozon and tokubetsu-hozon||tôken and tôsô (koshirae)||20,000 Yen|
|jûyô and tokubetsu-jûyô||tôken and tôsô (koshirae) tôsôgu||30,000 Yen|
Exception for jûyô and tokubetsu-jûyô papers:
A lost jûyô or tokubetsu-jûyô paper can be reissued once per item. For the confirmation of authenticity, the verification with our archive, and the reissuing of the paper, the following fee applies:
|jûyô and tokubetsu-jûyô||jûyô and tokubetsu-jûyô tôken and tôsô (koshirae) tôsôgu||30,000 Yen|
If you have any questions, please contact us: