Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Inkan or Hanko

In Japan, a stamp or seal called an Inkan or Hanko is used as authentication for all official things like bank accounts and employment records and other important documents, in the way a signature is used in the US. The stamp uses red ink and is supposed to be unique to each person.

The new school year will be starting in a couple of weeks and I will be teaching a two hour communication class (which means English) to second year outdoor life students. Because of my part-time employment, I had to have my own Hanko made.  We went to the little stamp shop (across from the pet shop) at the mall and Ted told the man working there (in Japanese) what I wanted. They have all kinds of stamps and cases and inks, some of them very expensive. Being very frugal, I just wanted the most basic thing that would do the job. The cheapest one was 1480 yen and that was what I ordered.  I showed the man my alien registration card (which is good until July, as you know from my earlier post) and he came up with what my name would be in katakana. He gave me the receipt and said come back tomorrow.

I came back the next day and picked it up. The case is the size of a tube of lipstick and has my name in red ink inside. I thought the alien registration card made me official, but now I’m really official because I have the hanko. Now, I just need to be careful not to lose it!


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