NTHK-NPO Certification Paper Ranking for Japanese Swords

The NTHK (Nihon Token Hozon Kai) is formally translated to “The Society for the Preservation of the Japanese Sword”. Having established itself in 1910 during the Meiji Period it is, in fact, much older than the NBTHK.
The NTHK-NPO is a non-commercial entity (non-profit organisation) that exists to promote, study and preserve of the Japanese sword and related arts . It’s head office is in Meguro in Tokyo, Japan. There are a few branch offices around the world.
Today there are two factions of the NTHK after the late Yoshikawa-sensei died. This article discusses the fine merits of the NTHK-NPO.
The NTHK-NPO offers three types of origami (judgement certificates); Shinteisho, Kanteisho, and Yushuto for the very finest swords. We’ll explore the different types below.

SHINTEISHO (Genuine Swords)

This first level of certification is reserved for swords in which the mei (signature) is authentic, but the overall condition of the sword is not very healthy. It is an auxiliary certificate that serves to guarantee the authenticity of sword’s signature.

KANTEISHO (Authentic Swords)

This is the second highest and more commonly seen origami certificate from the NTHK-NPO that offers a generous amount of information on the sword’s characteristics. The certificate will be issued for swords of considerable quality in which the mei (signature) is authentic OR in the case that if sword is mumei (unsigned), the judges will offer their opinion on who the smith or school was that forged the blade.
Below is an illustration breaking down the specs of the NTHK-NPO Kanteisho origami for A NAOE SHIZU KANENOBU KATANA. As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of detail – far more descriptive when making an honest comparison to its counterpart – NBTHK Hozon or NBTHK Tokubetsu Hozon.
Another notable difference are the inclusion of hanko (personal stamps) of the judges. In this case, five judges personally attest to the information stated in the certificate. The level of transparency and personal responsibility is rather refreshing.

KANTEISHO KOSHIRAE (Authentic Sword Fittings)

Kanteisho Origami is also issued for exceptional koshirae (fittings) for Japanese swords. Below is a certificate for a marvellous set of koshirae for a Kunitsugu wakizashi.

YUSHUTO (Highly Excellent Swords)

The highest level of achievement at the NTHK-NPO is a certificate known as YUSHUTO. It is the equivalent to the NBTHK JUYO Token.

In their words, it is a sword certificate for “the very best of the best“. YUSHUTO origami is issued for wonderfully made swords in terms of condition and their worthiness as an object of art and of academic study.
Here is NTHK-NPO YUSHUTO origami for a splendid Naminohira Yukiyasu Tachi from the Juei era (1182-1183). It is an ubu (original length) mumei (unsigned) tachi at 72.9cm. Every YUSHUTO sword is photographed and featured in printed NTHK-NPO journals.

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