If you want to relive the childhood excitement of seeing your name on an ink stamp, now’s the time to start planning your trip to Japan! From 2016, you’ll be able to create a personalised stamp with more than just your name – think cute borders, shapes, colours and any type of photo you choose. Plus, you won’t have to send away and wait weeks to see your purchase because it will be dispensed in a minute or less from a high-tech vending machine!
Hanko are little name stamps used in Japan in place of a signature when receiving a parcel, authorising a document or filling in just about any kind of form. Being official identity markers, most hanko stamps are pretty boring – just your last name written in kanji.
These new Hanko-san (Mr. Hanko) stamps are designed to be used together with your existing hanko, allowing you to turn your seal into a little message that will bring a bit of spark to the drudgery of your working day. And they’re coming soon to a gashapon machine near you!
Earlier this year as the Japanese government enacted a sales tax hike, the cost of mailing a letter also increased. As a result a new 2 yen stamp had to be issued to fill the price hike, and in an effort to quell public anger, Japan Post put a picture of a cute fluffy bunny on it. Surely that’d do the trick, right?
Of course it did! In Japan, cuteness is a rock-solid commodity and the bunny stamp was a huge success. It was so popular that people came out to buy some even though they had no mail to send. And so, Japan Post set a mandate to make all of their stamps pretty before fiscal 2015.
Japanese words with the prefix “itai” (meaning “painful” or simply “ouch”) have become more common in recent years as otaku culture spreads into new realms of weirdness and fandom.
Cars decorated with anime and videogame character designs to the point that they’re painful to look at by anyone but die-hard fans, and even Japan’s Self Defence Force’s pimped out tank-busting helicopter have given rise to the words ita-sha and ita-heli, respectively.
Most of these projects are done for the sheer fun of it, and few nerds carry their hobbies into their work or professional lives, but with the arrival of these new ita-in (lit. “painful stamp”), all that could change, with anime fans doing anything from opening a bank account to signing a lease on an apartment with their personalised name-stamp featuring a custom-made moe-inspired character design…