Do you remember the joy of collecting Pokemon cards in your childhood? Well today I’m going to talk about something that even adults can collect without embarrassment!
Recently, I discovered a Japanese tradition of collecting red ink seals and beautiful handwritten calligraphy from Japan’s Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines. You collect the vermillion colored stamp of the official seal from the temples and shrines in a book called the goshuincho (御朱印帳), as well as a personally drawn piece of calligraphy. Each inscription has two parts: the stamp of the seal and the calligraphy of the temple’s/shrine’s name and the date.
Here’s how you can join in on the fun! You can first buy the book at one of the larger temples (for about ¥800-1500). I bought mine at the Itsukushima Jinja shrine in Miyajima in Japan.
So once you have purchased the book (and after you are done touring/praying at the temple/shrine), you can head over to the place with a sign that says 御朱印. This is always written in Japanese, so make sure to write it down!!! The priest will open your book to the next free page and stamp it with the temple’s/shrine’s seal. Then using a brush and some black ink, the priest will calligraph the date, along with the temple’s/shrine’s name. And after paying 300 yen, your book is returned infused with another unforgettable memory of Japan.
I have been collecting goshuin for about two months now, and I still get fascinated every time by the uniqueness of each seal and calligraphy. I’ve mostly been around Kyoto, as I live here and there’s no shortage of temples here. So the next time you visit a temple or shrine in Japan , why don’t you give goshuin a try?
Gotta Catch ‘Em All!