A stamp collection worthy of the gods
KyoTours is going to fill you in on one of the best kept secrets in Japan: goshuin. So what does goshuin mean?
- 御 – (go) – Honorific syllable added at the beginning of important words.
- 朱 – (shu) – Red/orange ink. This is the same vermilion color you often see at Shinto shrines.
- 印 – (in) – Stamps, usually hand carved by the priests who live at the temple or shrine.
But it's more than just an "honorable red stamp." Goshuin is a living part of the Japanese religious culture that dates back centuries. Originally given as receipts for pilgrims who donated hand-written prayer scrolls to temples, nowadays people collect them to show all the various shrines and temples they've visited.
First you need a goshuin-cho, a special book designed to hold around 30 stamps. The paper in the goshuin-cho is folded in accordion style pages, so when the book is unfolded, it becomes this beautiful scroll of red and black calligraphy. You can buy plain ones at many stores in Kyoto, but some temples offer special books with finely embroidered covers.
At each temple or shrine, a priest first imprint the intricately carved seal of the temple in a special book. Next, he will inscribe the name of the temple, the date of your visit, and any additional prayers or symbols that the location is famous for. This is all done using fine calligraphy brushes in a steady hand, and it's thrilling to watch the priest's expert strokes across the page.
For a long time, goshuin collecting was just for religious pilgrims or older people. In recent years, however, it's become popular with many young people who seek out rare stamps in various parts of the country. Foreign visitors rarely collect goshuin, so it's a wonderful secret hobby that you can take part in during your time in Japan.
Let your KyoTours guide introduce you to the fascinating world of goshuin collecting on your tour. We recommend that you get yourself one of these goshuin-cho books as soon as you arrive in Japan. You can find them for sale at almost any temple or shine, or stop into a stationary or home goods store and choose from a selection of books. Start collecting before you reach Kyoto!
If you prefer, we can provide you with a beautiful goshuin-cho book to start your collection at the beginning of your tour. Gather as many stamps as you want, and continue collecting in other parts of Japan as well. By the time you return home, you'll have a wonderful souvenir of all the temples and shrines you visited in Japan.
Please let us know if you're interested in collecting goshuin when discussing your booking with us, and we can set you up with the special book required to gather the stamps.
Price: 300 yen per stamp
Stamps are available at temples and shrines throughout Kyoto and Japan.
Stamp books are available at temples and shrines for approximately 1500 yen.
KyoTours can provide you with a stamp book for 1500 yen.
- Guests are responsible for all goshuin book and stamp fees during tours. (approx 1500 per book, 300 per stamp)
For more info on goshuin or to ask about adding this experience to your tour, please use the contact form below.