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Japanese Style Hanko Stamp

Hanko Stamps are the Japanese version of a signature, an ancient practice dating as far back as the third century when they were used by samurai and government officials. The oldest existing hanko in Japan is made of gold. These stamps are used for a range of purposes, from opening bank accounts and purchasing vehicles, to ‘signing’ on important documents and accepting deliveries. It is said that on average a person owns up to five personal hanko stamps during their lifetime.

What is Hanko?

A Hanko is, put simply, a seal that is used in place of signatures on official documents and span from cheap, mass-produced plastic products to ornate and elaborate, handmade works of art, made with wood or bone. Hanko are used by businesses, temples, shrines and individuals. There are distinct Japanese terms for the use of a personal hanko;

  • Jitsu-in(実印) – is the official registered seal, which allows for important purchases such as taking out mortgages and buying cars. This is registered at the owner’s local ward office or city hall and comes with a certificate to prove authenticity.
  • Ginko-in(銀行印) – or registered bank seal, is, as the name implies, used for any type of bank business. This includes opening bank accounts, transferring funds, and so on.
  • Mitome-in(認印) – is your everyday hanko which you use for mundane things such as receiving parcels or for stamping on an invoice. The mitome-in is not registered anywhere and has no legal standing.

 History of Hanko

The practice of using seals goes back to the 5th millennium BC Mesopotamia. It reached Japan by AD 57, although it’s likely it was even earlier, being widely believed that they were being used as far back as the third century, but there is historical evidence from at least AD 57. After the Taiho Code (the administrative and penal code of the Taiho era) in 701, the Imperial family began using hanko for important contracts. Every emperor has a particular seal created especially for them, so as Japan crossed over from the Heisei era into the Reiwa era in 2019, the new emperor accepted his unique personal seal, following along with ancient tradition. The aristocrats of Japanese society started getting seals made by the late Nara period 750, this is when samurais began using hanko. It wasn't until the late nineteenth century that hanko became widely used in Japan. The hanko is now an integral part Japanese culture, an item passed from generation to generation and is an important item for Japanese people to confirm their “will” and “responsibility” in everything that’s signed.

Where to get a Hanko Stamp?

You can purchase your own Japanese style hanko stamp at Stampit, we produce a traditional style hanko, honouring the customary shape, giving a completely authentic feel. Simply choose your size and border then upload your design and pick from a wide range of coloured ink pads. Once completed our team gets to work fitting your design on our rubber and mounting it to a wooden handle, in keeping with the conventional style. Giving you a stylish and practical stamp for everyday use.

Why Hanko?

A Hanko Stamp is beneficial for multiple uses today, Stampit’s Hanko stamp is small and compact, perfect for use in an office environment. Perfect for use on official documents where you need to place a signature, instead of scribbling countless times a day you can design your own signature/ identifier and have it mounted on your own hanko stamp. Making it less time consuming and ensuring a perfect imprint each time.

You could also use a hanko stamp if you’re a small business looking to imprint your logo on thankyou notes or loyalty stamps. This adds a really personal yet professional touch that customers love. Branding is everything nowadays and aesthetically pleasing logos/ messaging really helps in keeping your business imprinted in the customers mind.

Japanese style Hanko stamps definitely still have a place today and can be completely multi-purpose. Proving that the ancient stamp isn’t going anywhere soon.

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