Hanko in various forms have worked their way into many facets of Japanese culture.
This small hanko is used for correcting mistakes and signing edits on official documents, similar to using one’s initials. Its purpose is to show who made the corrections on the document. Any modifications to official documents without a teisei-in impression are not legally recognized, and may even be regarded as forged. Teisei-in are smaller than regular hanko and therefore usually only have space for the user’s Japanese surname in Kanji. Using mitome-in for teisei-in is still legally acceptable.
For less official and unregistered uses, hanko don’t have to contain just your name. You can get a hanko carved with just about any fun design you’d like, and some people even incorporate cute drawings and characters into their unofficial seals. Some banks may even allow you to use a fun hanko design as your ginko-in, as long as it meets their other requirements. If you are interested in a custom hanko design, get in touch with us through the special inquiry form on this page.
…and many others
Hanko aren’t just for people. Restaurants may create a special stamp to mark receipts or point cards for their customers. Many temples in Japan offer to stamp your stampbook with goshū-in, a combination of stamps and calligraphy, to commemorate your visit. Some people go on pilgrimages to collect these stamps on beautiful scrolls or in elegant books called goshūinchō or nōkyōchō, which become treasured souvenirs and even heirlooms.
On the practical side, any legal entity hoping to do business in Japan must have their own set of hanko which are registered to the local government to give them the legal authority to sign contracts and other documents. Click here for more information on hanko for business.
Rakkan is an abbreviation of Rakusei Kanshiki (落石鑑識) It refers to the authentication of a Japanese painting or calligraphy, and rakkan is the signature and seal pressed by the artist. Historically, at the end of a calligraphy or the bottom corner of a painting, the artist wrote their name, pseudonym, court rank and or date of completion and sealed it with their rakkan-in.
Artists and calligraphers may use one or several hanko to sign their work. These hanko may contain the artist’s real name in full or in part, or their artistic pseudonym. These are known as “artist chops” in English.
Rakkan-in impressions are sometimes used by connoisseurs and art collectors to judge whether the art is original or fake.