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Japanese shrines and temples offer visitors goshuin stamps that serve as beautiful keepsakes. Many people have even begun collecting them due to their colorful designs. Our writer is also a collector and has amassed ten stamp books. This article introduces the etiquette for collecting goshuin.
A goshuin is a red stamp that certifies a visit to a shrine or temple. It's also a symbol of one's relationship with deities. Historically, visitors had to copy a sutra by hand and dedicate it to the temple to obtain a stamp. Fortunately, visitors today can receive the stamps in exchange for a small fee.
The general price ranges from 300 to 500 yen. Limited edition goshuin stamps cost between 500 to 1,000 yen.
The limited edition Chrysanthemum Festival stamp from Kasama Inari Jinja (Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture)
Back in the day, goshuin consisted of only a stamp and either the shrine or temple's name written with a brush. Today, they have evolved into colorful creations with artistic designs. Some of them even include adorable or beautiful illustrations.
It's no surprise that many people from all over the world have started collecting goshuin stamps.
A goshuincho (stamp book) can be purchased at major shrines, temples, and bookstores. Prices range from 1,000 to 2,000 yen.
The goshuincho of Chusonji Temple (left/large size) and Ise Grand Shrine (right/small size)
A large book is 18 x 12 centimeters, while a smaller size is 16 x 11 centimeters. Our MATCHA editor uses a larger size goshuincho, since it's easier to sign and fits larger stamps.
After selecting a stamp book of your own, you can start your collection!
Some people believe that the stamps of shrines and temples should not be mixed in one book. This policy may be due to an ordinance dating back to the Meiji Period (1868-1912) that completely separated Shinto from Buddhism.
Some shrines or temples may decline signing a book with mixed stamps. However, this is quite rare, so visitors should not be worried. Our writer personally uses two books, one for each religion, since it's easier to sort and organize the stamps.
Please note that there are a few basics manners that must be observed.
When obtaining a goshuin, go to the shrine or temple office, which is typically labled "goshuin-sho" or "nokyo-sho."
|Rules That Must Be Observed|
|Pay your respects to the shrine by praying before requesting a goshuin.|
|Do not use an ordinary notebook.|
|Wait quietly during the signing. Do not take photographs of the calligrapher.|
|Be sure to thank the calligrapher.|
|Do not resell the stamp.|
The goshuin of Nakayama-dera Temple (Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture/left) and Akama-jingu Shrine (Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture/right)
While the positioning of the red stamp varies at each shrine or temple, the general layout and definitions are as follows:
|1||Hohai (worship)||Hohai (worship)|
|2||Fudasho number (this part may remain blank at some temples)||Imperial chrysanthemum crest (available if the shrine is associated with the Imperial Family)|
|3||Enshrined deity||Name of the shrine|
|4||Seal of the orb (Sanskrit characters will be in the center)||Seal of the shrine|
|5||Name of the temple||N/A|
|6||Seal of the temple||N/A|
|7||Date of the visit||Date of the visit|
Our writer has amassed a stunning goshuin collection of around ten books. The following are five unique stamps that he recommends snagging!
May 1, 2019 marked the start of the Reiwa Era in Japan. To commemorate this historic day, many people lined up at Meiji Jingu Shrine to obtain a goshuin.
Our writer also waited in line for five hours from 8:30, so this truly is a memorable stamp.
Sakura Jingu in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward offers a limited edited goshuin when the two Kawazuzakura cherry trees in front of the main shrine bloom.
Signed with golden Indian ink and stamped with pink cherry blossom seals, this goshuin is a wonderful piece of art.
The "hebi-ishi" (serpentine stone) is said to bring good luck with money. This mysterious stone is enshrined at Seikoin Temple in Higashiizu, Shizuoka Prefecture. The chief priest reportedly has a pet white snake, which is believed to embody the sea goddess Benzaiten.
The limited-edition goshuin is only available when the white snake sheds its skin. The gold-colored photograph in the lower right part captures this image.
This goshuin was obtained at Musashino Reiwa Shrine, which was named after the new Imperial era. It is located next to the Kadokawa Culture Museum, a new landmark in Saitama Prefecture.
The design of the shrine was supervised by the world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma. The ceiling painting in the main shrine was drawn by the anime character designer Yoshitaka Amano, who was in charge of the illustrations for "Final Fantasy." Fans shouldn't miss out on this opportunity!
This shrine is a ten-minute drive from Dazaifu Tenmangu in Kyushu, and has garnered popularity due to the anime "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba."
Kamado Shrine has a few similarities with the anime, such as the name of the protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado. Some of the wooden prayer plaques offered to the shrine feature illustrations of the anime characters. They are all beautifully drawn, capturing the essence of this hit manga series.
While reasons for collecting goshuin vary among visitors, a common thread is forging a connection with traditional Japanese culture. By starting your own stamp collection, you'll create connections with shrines and temples while making special memories.