How to Make a Good Impression

How to seal your Hanko to show the best impression

Unlike self-inking or rubber stamps, Hanko require a little bit of practice to get a good, clean impression. The quality of the impression you make is reflective of the conviction with which you make that decision, so having a good clear seal on your documents and contracts shows that you made your seal with a clear mind and solid intent.

To get a good seal with your hanko, you’ll need:

*The small pad in your hanko case can be used in an emergency, but we strongly recommend using a larger dedicated inkpad. The curved shape of our dedicated inkpads makes it easier to get good ink coverage on the hanko face without pressing too hard. At offices and banks where people frequently have to seal documents, an inkpad would normally be provided.

Inking your hanko

Take your hanko and dab it onto the surface of the inkpad a few times to ensure you get full, even coverage on the raised areas. You don’t want ink in the recessed areas of the design, as they are not meant to be printed.


You don’t need to press the hanko hard at all to get good ink coverage!

If you press your hanko into a vermillion pad too hard, the oils inside the pad may come out and cause the impression to become blurry. Pressing the pad too hard can cause the ink to get into the carved grooves of the hanko, which causes the design’s edges to lose their sharp clarity. Just a few light taps on the inkpad should do the trick

An example of an over-inked hanko, and the blurred impression that results from too much ink coverage.

The image above shows an example of an over-inked hanko,
and the blurred impression that results from too much ink coverage.

Gripping your Hanko
grip the hanko close to the seal face

Hold your hanko securely, grasping it with your thumb and index finger and press it against the side of the middle finger, supporting the bottom of your hanko with your palm. The closer your fingers are to the seal face, the more stable your grip gets, reducing the possibility of your hanko being pressed unevenly or falling to the side when you press it to paper.

bad-gripIf you hold the hanko further away from the seal, you may not be able to generate sufficient pressing force to create clear impressions. If you hold your hanko with your fingers on its bottom edge, which is one of the most unstable grip positions, and try to seal it, you may lose your control of your hanko and it might even fall down and get damaged!

Practice your good seal grip to ensure a good, clear impression every time.

Sealing your Hanko

Prepare your Stamping Surface

matWhen you seal your hanko, it is recommended to place a stamping mat underneath the document. If you have no mat and are sealing directly over a hard surface, the seal may not come out very clear and you are more likely to accidentally damage your hanko’s face. If you do not have a stamping mat, you could substitute a notebook or something similar.

Last Check

checkRight before sealing, make sure one more time that the seal orientation is correct. If an impression is upside-down or askew, it does not look professional. Get familiar with your hanko so you can quickly identify the top of the design, then when you grip it you can place your index finger at the top to ensure proper orientation.

Let’s seal your Hanko!

stampingFind the right spot on the paper to be sealed, bring your hanko as close as possible to it and seal it. Right after you pressed the seal face flat onto the sheet, keep the pressure by pressing down on the back of the hanko with your palm, and rotate the back of your hand clockwise without detaching your hanko from the paper or decreasing pressure (don’t let the hanko face move on the paper!). Once the hanko face comes down on the paper, try not to disengage or reorient it until you are done sealing.

Once you’re done, swiftly lift the hanko off the page and admire your seal!

Well done! Now let’s clean up


After use, wipe off remaining vermillion ink on the face of your hanko. You can place it on a piece of scratch paper and swirl the hanko around (keeping the seal face flat on the paper), or wipe it gently with a tissue. Without such care, you might shorten the life of your hanko.

If any vermillion ink gets stuck in the grooves of your seal face, it can be easily cleaned by brushing with a special cleaning brush, usually available at banks and offices. A toothbrush could work for this, if you seal your documents at home. Light brushing is sufficient, it’s not necessary or recommended to brush your hanko roughly, or you might damage it.

Once it’s clean, return your hanko to its case. Having a safe place to keep your hanko is important!

That’s it! Follow this advice and you’ll ensure crisp, clean seals and a long life for your precious hanko.

2 replies on “How to Make a Good Impression

  • Roslyn Levin

    Your description of how to stamp is very informative; however there is one thing I cannot find on the net and perhaps you can answer my question.
    I am a sumi-e and shodo artist.
    I want to know how to make a hanko stamping mat.
    Can you tell me where this information is?

    How do you make a hanko stamp mat?

  • admin

    Thank you for your inquiry. If you can read Japanese, the following website shows some standard hanko stamping mats.

    This website says that a silicon-made mouse pad can be substituted.

    We hope this is helpful. If you are looking for other kinds of mats, the official term for a hanko mat is actually “natsuin mat,” which is 捺印マット in Japanese. Natsuin is a formal word for “seal.”


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