Three basic information of Japanese hanko, when, why and the history


We often hear in Japan, “Do you have your hanko?”, “Please stamp your hanko here” and “Please bring your hanko with you”. However, those who do not know about hanko, are strangers to the concept, who must have thought, “When do we need a hanko?” and “Why is it important?”

The following page will show you 5 typical situations where we will use a hanko, three reasons why we use a hanko and the history of hanko.


When do we use a hanko in Japan?

Why do we use a hanko?

The history of hanko

5 daily situations we use hanko in Japan

  1. Marriage

To prove that the application is submitted by the identical pair.

  1. Moving

To make, or sign for a new contract. We usually make a new contract with water, gas and electricity suppliers when we move home.

  1. Driver’s license

To prove the person who applies and updates is identified with the person that is mentioned in the license card.

  1. Credit card, Insurance

To prove the application and contract is correctly done, and is identical to the applicant.

  1. Home, Car

To prove the identity of the person who has agreed to the conduct in the expensive contract.

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Three reasons why we use hanko

  1. To show the confidentiality

Hanko sometimes functions as an ID card. You get permission to a certain document and entrance.

  1. To show the integrity

Stamping a hanko means the composer(s) of the document admits the contents are complete and have no errors.

  1. To show the identity

Stamping a hanko also means the document has the identified by the user who is the owner of the hanko, and that he or she accepts total responsibility.

The above two, of one of the theories, but we hear that using a hanko in Japan has the certain responsibility of the hanko owner.

The Shogunate’s hanko 150-year ago

The recent news says the Shogunate’s hanko was found. It is has been stated that it is 150-years old. This discovery is big news because it shows that the national leader at this time also used and had his own hanko to prove his will and validity.

Yes, a hanko has important meanings (even if you cannot understand them)! A document that has been marked by a hanko becomes the only one, and is absolute in the world with the stamp of your hanko.

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The history of hanko

It is said that people started to use hanko about 4 thousand years ago in the Mesopotamian civilization era. The shape of hanko at that time was not as we see today. People rolled the cylinder-shaped hanko to stamps.

Hanko came over to Japan via China through the Silk Road around 2000 years ago. The golden hanko which was presented by China’s emperor to the Japanese female emperor had a historically important meaning, so it is so famous among Japanese people. We can see the real one at the museum in Fukuoka prefecture today.

At first, only authorities were allowed to have hankos. They used their own hankos to show the document’s legitimacy or prove their admission. A recent news article said the 150-year-old Japanese Shogun’s hanko was found. Professors think it was used for foreign issues and the Shogun stamped his own hanko as the representative of Japan.

Even ordinary people started to use hanko from around 400 years ago.

So, for many years now, people have used Japanese hanko to show the document’s legitimacy and prove the document’s integrity. Do you want your own proof? Why don’t you check out our products!


Ivories, buffalo’s horn, and woods were the main materials of hanko at one time. However, especially ivories were stopped as hanko materials, and other new materials like plastic and titanium are used now instead.

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