The Nippon Bijutsu Token Hozon Kyokai (NBTHK) is the public interest foundation. Its name at the same time is the definition of its purpose and goal. The English translation of the foundations’ name is "The Society for Preservation of Japanese Art Swords". The Japanese headquarters of the foundation are located at The Japanese Sword Museum in 130-0015 Tokyo, Sumida-ku, 1-12-9 Yokoami.
NBTHK Museum Tokyo
Park of the Museums
At the end of the Second World War, the occupying powers had ordered that all Japanese weapons, especially swords, be confiscated and destroyed. Especially the loss of the historically and artistically valuable blades, which are unique and unmistakable in their kind worldwide, would have meant an irreplaceable loss not only for Japanese art and culture, but also for the world culture. Even today, the art swords continue to represent in terms of numbers the largest share of all registered Japanese national treasures and important cultural assets.
Following urgent intervention from knowledgeable experts, art historians and museums, as well as understanding officers of the American military administration in Japan, who feared the destruction of one of Japan's most important cultural assets, many of the valuable blades were saved from destruction. As a result of these efforts, the NBTHK was founded in 1948 with headquarters in Tokyo.
Its mission was to identify, distinguish and separate the art swords from the masses of confiscated weapons. These weapons included mostly machine-made, artistically and historically insignificant military blades. The artistically significant swords were to be registered and preserved.
This mandate to the experts of the NBTHK is still in effect today. Every sword that enters Japan from abroad or is found in Japan must be submitted to a commission, which includes official members of the NBTHK. If the commission does not grant the blade a license as a registered art sword, the blade might still face immediate confiscation and destruction, as it is considered a mere weapon.
Set in the past, the goals of the NBTHK are still valid today:
The NBTHK with its headquarters in Tokyo has 90 branches in Japan and only two outside of Japan, namely the NBTHK-European Branch and the NBTHK-American Branch.
The NBTHK fulfils its statutory objectives by: