(Editor’s note: A goshuin is a type of traditional custom-made stamp seal imprint that can be bought at temples and shrines around Japan. Each stamp also comes with calligraphy that reflects the skill of the writer (which conveys information such as the current date and name of the establishment), making each one a unique work of art. These stamps were originally receipts but have now become a service unto themselves, being prized by collectors.
The following article discusses an experience in which you can learn how to make your own goshuin-chō, a specially designed stamp book used for collecting goshuin.)
As you walk through the area of Mt. Yoshino, you can experience making your own original goshuin-chō seal stamp book at Kogan-ji Temple, located just above Kuromon Gate.
In front of the temple’s statue of Amida Nyorai (a Prefectural Designated Cultural Property), you can make a goshuin-chō seal stamp book while experiencing the location’s peaceful atmosphere.
After making the stamp book, take it with you to the different shrines and temples of Mt. Yoshino, or all of Nara Prefecture, to collect goshuin stamps.
With your own personalized stamp book, you can visit all the historic sites.
As a bonus, those who make stamp books will receive a special stamp from Kogan-ji Temple to start their collection.
Ms. Atsuko Honko (Kogan-ji Temple)
◯ Time required
About 2 hours
①Select the cloth
The first step is to select a cloth of your choice from a number of different options.
These cloths are purchased by Honko-san from a fabric wholesaler in Osaka.
The most popular design is a pattern of bird and beast caricatures but cats and modern Japanese patterns are also popular.
This time, I chose a cherry blossom pattern based on Yoshino’s famous flower.
Upon completion, participants will also receive a cover to carry the stamp book around in! For this cover, you can also choose your favorite pattern from many choices.
②Fold the paper
Fold the paper into pages which will be used for collecting stamps.
There are a total of 24 sheets of paper. .
Don’t get flustered, don’t rush, do it at your own leisurely pace.
Following a proper folding technique will result in a more beautiful goshuin-chō seal stamp book.
③ Apply glue to one side
First of all, apply glue to one side of each of the 24 pieces of disjointed paper.
It’s a simple task, but for some reason I got lost…It’s surprisingly difficult.
Even if you get lost, Honko-san will teach you politely, so it’s okay!
It is important to correct any mistakes as soon as you notice them.
A small mistake will create problems later on in the process, so be sure to be careful.
④Apply glue to the other side
This is easy. Just paste with glue.
After completion, the glued-together pages look like an accordion.
⑤Attach the cover and back cover
This time, we will apply a slightly stronger bond to the cardboard that will be the core of the cover.
After that, attach the cloth of your choice.
After pressing the cloth to the cardboard, wait a little while for the glue to settle.
Cut the four corners with scissors to create a beautiful stamp book, then attach a bond to the back and fold neatly.
Finally, attach the cardboard to the paper that makes up the book.
For those who have experienced seal stamp book making, Honko-san will prepare tea and sweets while the adhesive on the books is drying.
Chatting with Honko-san (who lives in Mt. Yoshino) was a lot of fun and so the time passed quickly.
⑦Recieve a special stamp from Kogan-ji Temple
After completing your own original goshuin-chō seal stamp book, recieve your first memorable stamp from Kogan-ji Temple.
It’s not a regular red-ink seal, but a special one only for those who have experienced making the seal book.
What kind of seal is it? Participate in this experience to see for yourself.
Making original goshuin-chō stamp book
2,500 yen (with tea and sweets)
It can be held at any time with a group of two or more people.
Please call and make a reservation (Japanese-language only).
2591 Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara Prefecture
Instructor: Ms. Atsuko Honko
After marriage in 1993, she moved to Kogan-ji Temple, Yoshinoyama. Taking advantage of her hobby, she devised and created a strap modeled on the character “Pinkle,” the mascot of Yoshino Town. In addition, as part of the regional partnership project in Yoshino Town, she supports home economics education at elementary schools.