Copyright Robert Cole 2014 - No copying or distributing

Appraisal Papers

Another article often accompanying swords and an attribute to quality are certificates of appraisal. These KANTEI ORIGAMI are issued from a process of sword judgment called SHINSA.

KANTEI is given at SHINSA by an individual appraiser, appraisal house or sword polisher. The then rendered ORIGAMI are and have been accepted as titles of appraisal for several hundred years.

ORIGAMI from famous appraisers or the great appraisal houses of the past are themselves historically valuable.

The NIHON BIJUTSU TOKEN HOZON KYOKAI or NBTHK was created with government sanction to distinguish historical and artistic works following WWII. Swords submitted to SHINSA, held by this organization can be rejected, commented upon or possibly awarded a registered certificate of appraisal.

ORIGAMI from the NBTHK speak to level of importance, and are as follows:

  HOZON - Certificate of Preservation
             Authored to certify quality of genuine pieces

  TOKUBETSU HOZON - Special Article
             This award certifies exceptional quality

HOZON and TOKUBETSU HOZON replace the prior series White, Green 
and Blue ORIGAMI:

  KICHO - White paper "Valuable"

  TOKUBETSU KICHO - Green paper "Especially Valuable"
                      ~Important Work~

  KOSHU TOKUBETSU KICHO - Blue paper "Height of Special Value"
                            ~Very Important Work~ 

The HOZON and TOKUBETSU HOZON were created to refine the system of judgment such that no possibility for error might stand outside the body of present scholarship and to erect a reliable standard of high quality.

KANTEI-SHO from past groups, the old NIHON HOZON KAI, CHU-O TOKEN-KAI, in existence following WWII, may be encountered but the most common appraisal group next to the NBTHK is the present NIHON TOKEN HOZON KAI or NTHK, for years headed by Mr Yoshikawa.

Thirdly, there are several individual appraisers who offer KANTEI-SHO. Significant among these are the ORIGAMI of Dr Tokuno.


The process of acquiring KANTEI-SHO is a lengthy one. While KANTEI itself could be quickly accomplished, a great many factors are involved. Especially with the larger organizations, where receipt of as many as 1500 swords and as many fittings must be accounted and arranged to schedule. Each such SHINSA becomes a several months long affair.

Swords, sent to Japan for SHINSA may take 2 to 3 months longer than the period of time allotted for whatever restoration services may have been contracted.

Each group has a different set of criteria acceptable for condition and preparation. KANTEI may require a better state of polish. Equally, each group or appraiser will provide a different set of services and records. One group may provide commentary and explanation, before and after SHINSA. One might provide a judgement chit offering ORIGAMI, with its fine calligraphy, as an option.

Some individuals offer SAYA-GAKI, written record in KANJI displayed on the SHIRA-SAYA. To be more than mere description, SAYA-GAKI should have the appraisers' signature and CAO.

KANTEI results are registered and recorded just as owners and purchasers of land and real estate or vehicles are registered and recorded. KANTEI-SHO are a thing of officialdom, with seals and mark.


A sword awarded JUYO TOKEN is an "Important Art Sword." This level of recognition is achieved by few pieces and may raise a sales price appreciably, possibly doubling. TOKUBETSU JUYO is an especially valuable JUYO level. This rating may allow a further increase or even doubling of cash valuation. Awards of HOZON and TOKUBETSU HOZON must be accomplished as requisites for candidates prior to consideration for the JUYO TOKEN SHINSA. A sword sent to Japan for consideration for the JUYO certification, with time for JUYO polishing preparation, if necessary, may take as long as one and a half years or longer.

JUYO BIJUTSU HIN was the highest level for artistic importance before WWII. Very rare pieces were awarded JUYO BIJUTSU HIN.

After a time there were, however, many doubtful swords awarded as both KOKUHO and JUYO BIJUTSU HIN, commonly called, "JU-BI"s. Following WWII, the designations for KOKUHO and JUYO BIJUTSU HIN were withdrawn and a new system having KOKUHO and JUYO BUNKAZAI were created. For this reason, swords of the old KOKUHO or JUYO BIJUTSU HIN are to be considered carefully.

JUYO papers are applied to exceptional pieces. For individual arts, they are the height of artistic award and are given to pieces from all historical backgrounds.

Artistic merit alone, however, is not cultural treasure.

Kokuho and Bunkazai

KOKUHO - National Treasure and JUYO BUNKAZAI - Important Cultural Property are significantly more important properties than all others. They are the individual historical treasures of the past.

Culturally important pieces eclipse the merely artistic and exceed the definition of individual category. A National Treasure sword is a National Treasure of Japan, not just a sword with a nice paper.

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