Kenden was a survey of farmland, recording area, cultivator, soil and so forth. In ancient times, it meant the same as koden (cadastral survey), but in the Medieval period it meant the same as kenchu (land survey).
The koden had been carried out immediately after Taika no Kaishin (the Taika Reforms); and as the handen-sei (Ritsuryo land-allotment system) was enforced, the koden was conducted before the handen, and kodencho (individual registers of the koden) were recorded. Although the word kenden was believed to have been used from an early period, the oldest extant record is considered to be that in 'ichido kenden fujuku' (壱度検田不熟, Kenden weren't doing well at first) described in the shozeicho (local financial records) of Bungo Province made in 737.
Later, the same kind of survey began to be called 'kenden' and the survey results were recorded in kenden-cho (ledger of Cadastral Surveys). In later years, the word 'kenchu' carried out by the provincial office and estate proprietor in certifying manors, widely replaced koden and kenden, whereby kendencho began to be called kenchucho (land survey ledger).