印鑑

20 Dec

In Western countries, a signature is used to make contracts and other documents official.
But in Japan (and China and Korea), an 印鑑 (name seal) is used.

In Japanese, these are called 印鑑 (inkan) or 判子 (hanko).
Generally speaking, 判子 (hanko) is used less officially.

When I first came to Japan, all documents required a 印鑑 (name seal). Opening bank accounts, receiving registered mail, contracts, etc.
And before I got one, I would be required to give a thumb-print with the red ink used for name seals in lieu of a 印鑑 (name seal).
But once more foreigners started coming to Japan in recent years, Western style signatures have become acceptable for less important documents. More important documents still require a 印鑑 (name seal), though.

So, although we have a 印鑑 (name seal), if the mailman brings me registered mail, I’ll just sign my name with a pen in the space marked 「印鑑」 on the form rather than break out my 印鑑 (name seal).
But for bank paperwork, tax forms, my kids school registration papers, etc, I need to use our 印鑑 (name seal).

Here’s a photo I took of a shop that makes 判子 (name seals):

dscf4127

And here’s a picture that I found online from a shop that makes 印鑑 (name seals). You can see the name being carved into the seal, and what the name looks like when stamped with the official red ink:

inkan

And here’s a photo I took of some “off the rack判子 (name seals) that are used for less important documents:

dscf4171

***

Here’s another photo I took today (it doesn’t look like anything special to me because I’ve seen these signs everyday for the past eighteen years…but maybe you’re interested):

dscf4130

Can you guess what this sign means?

It says 「止まれ」, which means “Stop”. (The mirror at many Japanese intersections is to help you check for oncoming traffic).

Most signs in Japan are different from their counterparts in other countries, and they often have no English written on them (eighteen years ago there was even less English here!). If you’re gonna stay in Japan, it helps to learn how to read…but it’s not easy!

Japan’s stop-sign is triangular, but many countries, it seems, have adopted the U.S. style red octogon stop-sign…even China. The stop-sign in China is red and octogon shaped, like in America…but, like Japan, it doesn’t have any English written on it either.

The Chinese stop-sign just has one kanji character on it: 「停」. In Chinese, it’s pronounced as “Ting!“, I believe (I don’t speak any Chinese)…but in Japan, that character for “stop” (「停」) would be pronounced as テイ (tei) or とまる (tomaru).
But, as I said above, the Japanese stop-sign doesn’t use that character…but rather 「止まれ」.

***

I finished adding Category listing for all of my previous posts. You can use the “Categories” drop-down menu to the right to find posts that I’ve written by subject. (You can also use the “Search” box, similairily).

About these ads

14 Responses to “印鑑”

  1. Sir Pent December 21, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    I have no idea how anyone could manage to assimilate into a completely different culture like that.
    What possessed you?

  2. Eric December 21, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    It took me a little while to get used to the stop signs. I don’t see them that often around here, so that didn’t help. I always think of a yield sign when i see it.

  3. tokyo5 December 21, 2008 at 4:38 pm #

    Sir Pent…

    Well, growing up in America, I believed that there wasn’t anywhere better than the U.S. to live.
    But, in 1990, I had a chance to come to Japan and I took it because Japan was so exotic and different…I wanted to see it.

    Once I got here, of course everything was a culture shock…but I began to feel very comfortable in Tokyo.

    (Check the “Culture shock” listing in the Categories menu to the right, and you’ll see a few post that I mention the culture shock I felt when I visited America a few years ago!
    (Or else click here:
    https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/category/culture-shock/
    to see them)).

  4. tokyo5 December 21, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    Eric…

    Yeah, that’s a Stop sign. Japan doesn’t use the Yield sign.

    Most road signs here are completely in Japanese…can you read them?

  5. Eric December 21, 2008 at 11:41 pm #

    I can’t really read them. I know what most of them mean though. The ones I don’t know are the red circles with the slash on a blue background. The meaning of the sign is different for each one and is written under the circle in tiny Japanese. I don’t think half the people know what they mean or pay attention to them.

  6. naoko December 22, 2008 at 12:10 am #

    Hi, tokyo5
    At last I got my avatar!!

    I didn’t know that the road signs are so inconvenient for foreigners until I read your post. You are right. They are written only in Japanese..Why? It’s dangerous!!

  7. tokyo5 December 22, 2008 at 12:30 am #

    Eric…

    I believe that you’re talking about the Japanese “No Parking” sign.
    The writing below the sign explains which hours parking is forbidden.

    A similar sign with a red X rather than just a slash means “No Parking Or Stopping“.

    Do you have a Japanese driver’s license or just an international license?
    To get a Japanese driver’s license, you have to pass an eye test, road sign / rules test, and (if you’re from a country that drives on the wrong side (I mean right-hand side of the road) a driving test too.

    +++

    naoko…

    I noticed that you got you avatar. Good!

    Most countries only have road signs in their native language…and to get a driver’s license, you have to prove that you understand at least the main ones.
    (People staying less than a year can use an international license with their home-country’s license).

  8. Eric December 22, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    I have a Japanese driver’s license. Being a Canadian, I didn’t have to take any tests except for the eye test. I’m so glad I didn’t have to take the test. It took forever even with no test.

  9. tokyo5 December 22, 2008 at 10:43 am #

    Eric…
    I had to take the eye, driving and written test when I first got my license (getting it renewed only involves the eye test).

    Personally, I think Japan should make everyone take the whole test. I don’t think other countries let people have a driver’s license just by showing a foreign license and taking an eye exam.

    BTW, I thought that only people from countries that drive on the left-side of the road didn’t need to take the driving test here.
    Doesn’t Canada drive on the right-side?

  10. Eric December 22, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Yes we drive on the right side. It doesn’t matter which side of the road you drive. It depends on the agreement between countries. The exemot countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom. These all have driver’s license exchange agreements with each other. My wife did not have to do a test in Canada either. US has no agreements with anyone so that’s why you had to take the test.

  11. tokyo5 December 23, 2008 at 1:33 am #

    Really? I didn’t know that some countries do that (including this one)! ;)

  12. tokyo5 December 25, 2008 at 1:42 am #

    I just added another photo I took to this post (the photo of the “off-the-rack” name seals).

  13. len August 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

    I like the ones that have a combination lock
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/mitsubishi-security-enhanced-personalized-hanko-stamp/

    • tokyo5 August 24, 2010 at 12:08 am #

      Do you have one?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 194 other followers

%d bloggers like this: