On February 23, 1948, the NBTHK was established for the purpose of preserving Japanese Art Swords. Since its founding over 65 years ago, it has been the leading organization solely devoted to the study and preservation of the “Nihonto” or “Japanese Sword”.
Nihon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK)
“Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Sword”
Dr. Junji Homma aka: Kunzan (left), and Dr. Kanzan Sato (right) Co-Founders, of the NBTHK
One of the primary purposes of the Society is to preserve Japanese Art Swords that are registered with the Japanese government. Every sword in Japan that is hand forged and has artistic merit is registered and issued a “Torokusho” by the government. This is a small (about 3” x 4”) laminated paper giving registration number, date, place of registration, name, length, and other identifying particulars. There are thousands and each year the NBTHK adds more to the permanent registry that are classified according to each sword's merits.
The Society not only classifies swords, but each year holds contests for sword making, sword polishing, shirasaya making, habaki and kodogu (fittings) making. They also hold classes for the study of sword polishing.
The general offices and most of the activities are 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. The Museum is a four-story reinforced concrete building with a total of 17,000 square feet.
The current NBTHK headquarters and Museum in Yoyogi, Tokyo
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” which is 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 crafting beautiful contemporary Japanese Art swords.