Hanko: The Traditional Japanese Name Seal

Hanko for foreigners How to make Japanese name seal

In Japan, one of the most important tools for personal identification and authorization is the Hanko, a traditional name seal used for signing official documents, opening bank accounts, and more. Despite the rise of digital signatures, Hanko still plays a significant role in Japanese society and culture.

A Hanko is a small, cylindrical object made of materials like wood, ivory, or stone, with one end engraved with the owner’s name in kanji, a writing system used in Japanese. The name is often stylized in a unique and aesthetically pleasing way, making each Hanko a personal and distinctive work of art. The other end of the Hanko is used for stamping, usually with red ink, to make the owner’s name official on documents.

Hanko History in Japan

Hanko has a long history in Japan, dating back to the Nara period in the 8th century. It was used by the imperial court and high-ranking officials to sign important documents. Over time, Hanko became popular among the general public as a way to sign their name, replacing the practice of using calligraphy.

Gold seal

Seal of the King of Han Dynasty. Source: Wikipedia

In 57 A.D., a gold seal bearing the inscription “King of the Han (Japanese) Nu Kingdom” was presented by Emperor Kwangmu during the Han Dynasty in China. In 701, 644 years later, the Taiho Ritsuryo Code was enacted, which included a seal system to define official seals and official seals. It was modeled after the Sui and Tang Dynasties in China.

Business use of name seals


Hanko for business use

Hanko is still widely used today in Japan, and is an essential item for conducting official business. In Japanese companies, it is common practice to require employees to have their own seal, and it is customary for employees to affix their seals when confirming that they have read a circular document or when preparing documents such as proposals and contracts. In addition, many Japanese people have multiple Hanko for different purposes, such as for business and personal use.

Company Seals

company name seals

Company name seals (Japanese-name-stamp.com)

Company seals are typically made of wood and contain the name of the company in Kanji or Katakana characters. The seal is usually kept in a special case or box and is only used by authorized representatives of the company.

The company seal is considered to be a legally binding signature, and its use is required on many official documents, including contracts, agreements, and banking paperwork. In fact, many Japanese banks will not open a corporate account without the use of a company seal.

Because the company seal is considered to be such an important part of doing business in Japan, the design and use of the seal is often taken very seriously. Companies will often go to great lengths to create a unique and impressive seal, and may even have multiple seals for different purposes or occasions.

Hanko material

There are different types of Hanko available, including standard Hanko, which is usually made of wood or plastic and is affordable and easy to obtain. There are also high-end Hanko made of ivory, jade, or other precious materials that can cost thousands of dollars. These high-end Hanko are often used by celebrities, politicians, and wealthy individuals.

Use of traditional Japanese seals

In addition to being an important tool for identification and authorization, Hanko is also considered a symbol of Japanese tradition and culture. It represents a person’s identity and has deep personal significance. It’s often passed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom.

Social Issues of Hanko

Japanese name seals

In recent years, there has been some debate in Japan about the use of Hanko, with some arguing that it’s outdated and unnecessary in a digital age. However, for many Japanese people, Hanko remains an important part of their culture and identity. It’s a tradition that has stood the test of time and continues to be an essential tool in daily life.

Hanko for foreigners

Foreigners who wish to obtain a Japanese name seal, may find it helpful to understand the process of choosing a Japanese name and creating a seal. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Choose a Japanese name: In Japan, it is common for people to have a “katakana name” that is used for official purposes. This name is often chosen based on the sound of the person’s original name in their native language. To choose a Japanese name, a foreigner may consult with a Japanese speaker to find a name that sounds similar to their original name, or they may choose a name based on its meaning or cultural significance.
  2. Convert the name to katakana: Once a Japanese name has been chosen, it must be converted into katakana characters, which are used for Japanese names. This can be done by a Japanese speaker or this Japanese-name-stamp.com website helps you to create your Japanese Hanko.
  3. Choose a font and style: There are many different styles of Hanko, each with their own unique font and design. Foreigners may want to consult with a Japanese speaker or Hanko maker to choose a style that is appropriate for their needs.

    Hanko font Japanese name seal stamp

    Hanko font examples

  4. Have the Hanko made: Once the design has been chosen, the Hanko can be made. There are many Hanko makers in Japan who specialize in creating custom Hanko, and the process typically involves carving the design into a wooden or other special material stamps.
  5. Register the Hanko: Once the Hanko has been created, it may need to be registered with local authorities or used for official purposes. Foreigners should consult with a legal or business expert to ensure that they are using the Hanko correctly and following all necessary protocols.

Overall, obtaining a Japanese name seal can be a complex and involved process, but it can be an important tool for conducting business and navigating Japanese culture. By following these steps and seeking guidance when necessary, foreigners can create a Hanko that is both functional and respectful of Japanese traditions. Find out more details in https://japanese-name-stamp.com/.

Hanko in the future

Hanko is a unique and essential part of Japanese culture, with a rich history and personal significance. While digital signatures may be gaining popularity, Hanko remains a cherished and respected tradition in Japan, and will likely continue to be used for many years to come.

If you plan to live in Japan, we recommend that you make a seal before coming to Japan. Even if you do not plan to live in Japan, a Japanese seal will make a wonderful, unique, and personalized gift for yourself, your family, friends, or loved ones.

Hanko Japanese name seal online web shop

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