What is Hanko?

by Erika Shinomoto
what is hanko

Hanko is a unique and traditional Japanese stamp used for signatures in official documents. It is also often used as a personal seal on mail, letters, or other papers. Have you ever seen one before? Learn more what is Hanko and how it’s used below!

What is Hanko?

What is Hanko

A Hanko (判子, はんこ) is a unique and traditional Japanese stamp used for signatures in official documents. It is also often used as a personal seal on mail, letters, or other papers.

There are many different types of hanko, but the most common ones are made from wood, plastic, stone, or ivory. Hanko come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they typically feature the owner’s name written in Kanji characters.

History of Hanko

Hanko are an important part of Japanese culture and have been used for centuries. In fact, it is believed that the first hanko were created during the Nara period (710-794).

The history of hanko is steeped in tradition and dates back centuries. It is believed that the first hanko were created during the Nara period (710-794).

This was a time of great cultural growth in Japan, and hanko played an important role in official transactions and communications.

Since then, hanko have remained an important part of Japanese culture. They are still used for signatures in official documents, as well as personal seals on mail, letters, and other papers.

Hanko come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they typically feature the owner’s name written in Kanji characters.

Customs and Traditions around Using a Hanko

Hankos are personal seals used extensively in Japan, and the Hanko culture has a rich history behind it. Hankos have been used in Japan for over a thousand years, and they were originally made of stone.

Today, Hankos are usually made of wood or plastic, and they are used for a variety of purposes, including signing contracts, documents, and letters.

Hankos can be simple or ornate, but they all serve the same purpose: to identify the Hanko’s owner.

The use of Hankos is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture, and there are a number of customs and traditions associated with their use.

For example, it is considered bad manners to use someone else’s Hanko without their permission. Hankos are also considered to be personal property, and they are often passed down from generation to generation.

Types of Hanko

It is apparently believed that hanko is becomming less popular in the corporate Japan but you still see a few Hanko stamps around.

There are mainly three types of Hanko: Jitsu-in; Ginko-in; Mitome-in

What is Jitsu-in?

Jitsu-in is a type of Hanko that is used for signatures in official documents. It is a simple stamp that features the owner’s name written in Kanji characters.

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Jitsu-in are the most common type of hanko, and they are made from wood, plastic, stone, or ivory. The literal meaning of Jitsu-in is “actual stamp”. You have to register your Jitsu-in in the city register office for it to be legally binding. After which, you can use the Jitsu-in to sign contracts,

What is Ginko-in?

A Ginko-in (銀板) is a type of Hanko that is used extensively in Japan for financial matters. Unlike the Jitsu-in, a Ginko-in is registered with a bank instead of the city registrar.

It’s often used to sign business contracts, documents, or letters rather than as a seal. A Ginko-in usually features the owner’s name written in Kanji characters as well as their title and position within the company.

What is Mitome-in?

Mitome-in (秘書犬) are used to sign more informal things like parcels. This type of hanko is not legally binding.

Most Japanese people, use one hanko for multiple types of things. For example, Jitsu-in hanko can be used instead of a Mitome-in. But also it’s important to know that since Jitsu-in is your official signature (and it can be just as easily forged), it’s best to use your Jitsu-in only when necessary.

How to Use a Hanko

To use a hanko, simply dip it in an ink pad and stamp it on the document you wish to sign. Hankos can also be used as seals on envelopes and packages.

If you are using a hanko for the first time, it is best to practice on a piece of paper before using it on an official document.

When not in use, hankos should be stored in a safe place to prevent them from being lost or stolen.

Hanko Etiquette

Hanko are small stamps used in place of signatures in Japan. Hanko etiquette is therefore the proper way to use Hanko in day-to-day life.

Hanko come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the most common Hanko are round with a profile portrait.

Hanko are made out of wood, bone, stone, or plastic, and the material often denotes the level of formality of the Hanko.

For example, Hanko made out of wood or plastic are considered informal Hanko, while Hanko made out of stone are considered very formal.

The size of the Hanko also denotes the level of formality, with larger Hanko being more formal than smaller Hanko.

When using Hanko, it is considered proper etiquette to use the Hanko of the person you are corresponding with.

For example, if you are sending a letter to your boss, you would use their Hanko on the envelope and your own Hanko on the letter inside.

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If you are sending a letter to a friend, you would use your own Hanko on both the envelope and the letter inside.

In general, it is considered bad manners to use someone else’s Hanko without their permission.

Hankos are also considered to be personal property, and they are often passed down from generation to generation.

Rules For A Hanko

There are a few rules that govern the use of hankos.

  • Firstly, Your Hanko must mandatorily have at least a part of your name on it. It can be either in Kanji, Katakana or even in the Latin alphabet, but it has to have your name on it.
  • The second rule is that You Hanko should be registered with the city office. If you move to a new address, you will have to re-register your Hanko with the new city office.
  • It is recommended that you use your full name on your Hanko. This way it makes it harder to be forged.
  • And finally, if you lose your Hanko, you will have to report it to the police and get a new one made.
  • Each person should have their own Hanko, which should not be loaned to anyone else.
  • Hankos should only be used with ink that is specially made for them; using other inks can damage the seal.
  • Hankos should be stored carefully when they are not in use to prevent them from being damaged or lost.
  • By following these rules, hanko users can ensure that their hankos will last for many years.

How To Choose A Hanko

When choosing a hanko, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Firstly, think about what material you want your hanko to be made out of. Wood , bone, stone, and plastic are all common materials used for hankos.

The material you choose should be based on how formal or informal the hanko will be used. For example, a wooden hanko would be more appropriate for use on casual correspondence, while a stone hanko would be more appropriate for use on official documents.

Secondly, think about the size of the hanko. Hankos come in a variety of sizes, from small to large. The size you choose should be based on how formal or informal the hanko will be used.

For example, a small hanko would be more appropriate for use on casual correspondence, while a large hanko would be more appropriate for use on official documents.

Thirdly, think about the shape of the hanko. Hankos can be round, square, or rectangular. The shape you choose should be based on how formal or informal the hanko will be used.

For example, a round hanko would be more appropriate for use on casual correspondence, while a rectangular hanko would be more appropriate for use on official documents.

Fourthly, think about the design of the hanko. Hankos can be plain or they can have designs carved into them. The design you choose should be based on how formal or informal the hanko will be used.

For example, a plain hanko would be more appropriate for use on casual correspondence, while a hanko with a carved design would be more appropriate for use on official documents.

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Finally, think about the price of the hanko. Hankos can range in price from a few dollars to several thousand yen. The price you pay should be based on how formal or informal the hanko will be used.

For example, a hanko that is less expensive would be more appropriate for use on casual correspondence, while a hanko that is more expensive would be more appropriate for use on official documents.

Hanko for Foreigners

If you are a foreigner living in Japan, you can acquire a Japanese Hanko by applying for one at your local city office.

Hankos are issued by the city’s Local Kensa Shitsu offices unless the applicant is living in Tokyo, where hankos are issued by the Shinjuku Ward Office.

In order to get initial registration of your hanko done you need to bring along documents such as passports and resident cards.

In addition, if it is difficult for you to sign your name then there is an option of showing a handwritten letter from somebody else certifying that it is indeed your signature and seal.

You will also need to bring 4 photocopies of both sides of the letter sized at 15 x 21 cm.

If you are not a Japanese citizen, you will also need to show an Alien Registration Certificate(外国人登録証明書), which can be obtained from the Immigration Bureau.

After everything has been checked and verified, you will then be able to receive your hanko.

The registration of hankos is free of charge.

Hankos can be used for various purposes such as opening a bank account or signing documents.

If you plan on staying in Japan for an extended period of time, it is recommended that you get a hanko.

Not only will it make your life easier, but it will also add a touch of authenticity to any document that you need to sign.

Well, that’s everything you needed to know about Hanko! We hope this article was helpful in acquainting you with this important part of Japanese culture.

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