Collecting Inkan — A Fun and Free Activity in Japan

Notebook with Inkan

Inkan, or rubber stamps, has a certain mysterious charm to it. You can never get tired of collecting them.

These Japanese rubber stamps are known for their intricate designs. They often showcase traditional Japanese motifs such as flowers, animals, nature elements, as well as buildings. Modern iterations of these stamps may include anime themes and mascots, reflecting the evolution of this art form.

Getting into this hobby is easy. Grab some paper, or a notebook, and you’re good to go. Venues that have an inkan usually provides ink pads as well.

Inkan should not be confused with hanko, that are used as seals for the purpose of identification and authentication by the Japanese. However, as a foreigner, you can make your own hanko seal and bring it home as a unique souvenir, but that’s a whole other topic.

I’ve shared in another post a fun series of inkan, known as eki stamps, for you to collect! These stamps make perfect souvenirs, a great way to remember your travels through Japan’s railways.

Read on as I share about the stamps that you can collect. Inkan are even easier to find than eki stamps – there’s no need to navigate complicated train stations. The best part? They’re completely free!

Traveler’s Company

Traveler's Factory Inkan
[Left] Inkan at Traveler’s Factory Narita [Right] Inkan from Traveler’s Factory Kyoto

The Traveler’s Company is a shop for everyone, whether you’re a novice or seasoned stamp collector. I bought most of my notebooks here and have used them for journaling and collecting stamps throughout my travels.

Each Traveler’s Factory outlet will have a stamp counter with stamps unique to that outlet. There are also stamps that feature popular cities of Japan and their landmarks. Some also stamp onto their notebook covers, rather than just in the notebook itself.

Besides stamps, you can also find accessories to decorate your notebook here. Psst! I spent almost an hour shopping and stamping in each outlet! 🤭

Jump Shop

Jump Shop Inkan
Jump Shop – Tokyo Station

The Jump Shop is a haven for manga and anime lovers. Each Jump Shop outlet have their unique inkan design and you can get matching paper from the friendly staff. They will ensure your stamping experience is hassle-free and enjoyable. Whether you’re an avid manga reader, an anime enthusiast, or an inkan collector, the Jump Shop is a must-visit.

Chiikawa Land

Stamp design at Osaka-Umeda

This delightful venue offers more than just Chiikawa-themed merchandise, it’s a vibrant hub for cartoon and anime lovers too. While most of these stamps are cheeky, and in order to understand the humor behind them, you could try asking a Japanese friend to explain, or simply Google Translate. However, it’s more of a local pun sometimes. It’s an enjoyable way to understand the local culture and maybe even learn a bit of Japanese along the way!

World Cultural Heritage (世界文化遺産)

World Cultural Heritage Inkan in Nara
World Cultural Heritage Inkan in Nara

These venues offer a blend of educational exhibits and hands-on experiences. Each location promotes specific heritage sites and offers enlightening materials about them. The term 世界文化遺産 is used to denote cultural sites that have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Though I don’t have the specific listings for these venues, they’re worth seeking out for their unique educational and cultural value.

The Inkan pictured above is located in the Nara City Tourist Information Center, right next to the JR Nara Station. It features Tōdaiji (東大寺), one of Japan’s most famous temples, a landmark of Nara.

That’s all the Inkan we’ve come across during our time in Japan. If you know of anything else, please leave them in the comments below, we would love to check them out on our next trip!

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