Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.602


                        photo by shibainu


Being a Japanese, one of the most unconvenient (and incomprehensible)thing in our daily life is the use of  `Inkan'(a personal seal).

I have several inkan(it is also called hanko).

My personal inkan including Jitsuin(a registered seal), Ginkoin(a seal for bank transactions), and Mitomein(an informal seal).

I have Inkan for my company too, including Jitsuin, Ginkoin and Kakuin(square seal).

Jitsuin is an registered seal and there the card is issued when you register your inkan. Jitsuin is used for documents such as buying a house, and you need to have a certificate of the jitsuin you are using, issued by city office, you need Jitusin card to ask to issue the certificate! That means you need to keep the Jitsuin and the card as a set.

When you make a bank account, you need an inkan, so many people make their own inkan. Ginko literally means bank, so these inkan are called Ginkoin. When you withdraw your money from account, usualy the cash card can do but when you open or close an account, you always need Ginkoin and the bankbook as a set. If you lose your cash card, you need Ginkoin and the bankbook.
Mitomein is informal and unregistered inkan but most of the contract (the small ones like having a cell phone), there is a space in the document for inkan and you are always asked to stamp your seal instead of giving signature. To receive delivery, people have Mitomein at entrance of home, signature is also all right for the delivery recently. 
Most inkan have family name only and are circle or ellipse.

Regardomg Jitsuin and Ginkoin, there are very expensive ones sold, for example some are made by water-buffalo horn. Some people think inkan are very important for their life and they feel they need to have good inkan to have good fate (very superstitious!) Mitomein are very cheap, mass productive item, you can buy at Hyaku yen shop(one dollar shop), if your family name is popular (our family name Wada is quite popular name, so we have no problem finding our Mitomein anywhere).
For many kinds of documents, we are asked to stamp our seal-Mitome in are sold at everywhere, then why signature cannot be accepted? I really cannot understand. I have a few Mitome in in my bag! I keep forgetting carrying Mitomein and end up buying another.


If someone steals your Jitsuin and the certificate, your money will be withdrawn by the person who has them. For safety, I keep them separately. I hear many people keep Jitsuin in a safe-deposit box at a bank.
Putting signature is becoming general thing but still at many occasions, inkan is needed. Many people do not put signature on the back of their credit card-I myself too kept my credit card signature space blank. People use credit card but we are not so used to put signature, so I am not confident whether I can write my signature `correctly'.

I remember being looked at by suspicious eyes when I tried to cash my check when I traveled India. I had to put signature so many times until they accepeted my check...

Inkan cause so much inconvenience and in this world of internet and smart phone, I think it is becoming like a joke. Why we need to keep this old tradition? Is this for inkan sellers and goverment workers?  

Maybe Japanese are reluctant to put their own signature because they are not confident to keep writing `correct' signature like me? It may sound ridiculous but I really need to practice my signature and I think there are many people like me in Japan.



                         photo by Ishikawa Ken