Personal seals


One aspect of Japanese culture that often surprises foreigners is the use of “personal seals”, called hanko or inkan. They still play an essential role in important deals, such as opening a bank account or making a contract to rent an apartment. They consist of an engraving of the owner’s surname, and they’re generally made of wood, stone or plastic.
But don’t worry if you don’t possess a seal. Some major banks will allow you to open an account using just your signature, which they regard as having the same validity as seals.

There are also non-official seals that are used in daily life for purposes such as acknowledging the receipt of registered mail or parcels. Ready-made seals can easily be bought for typical Japanese surnames such as Sato, Suzuki, Takahashi, etc. You can get seals for your full name, nickname, or just initials if you place an order at a shop.

source : http://www3.nhk.or.jp/lesson/english/learn/list/7.html

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