Hanko For Non-Japanese

Whether it's done out of necessity or just for fun, it's not unusual for foreign residents or even non-Japanese visitors to make a personalized Japanese seal, known as hanko. Although a growing number of banks and official institutions allow signatures to be used in lieu of hanko, there are still some cases where they are required. For example, some Japanese companies, particularly in more rural areas, may ask their employees to open an account at a local bank which require a hanko.

There are usually two options available for people with non-kanji names interested in making their personal hanko: 1. Create a kanji version of your name (which you must officially register at city hall) and make your hanko with it or 2. Make a hanko with your name in katakana. Creating a hanko in the English alphabet is usually not an available option.

Since Japanese names are rarely longer than three or four kanji, any name longer than Smith or Brown in katakana is going to look really squashed. The end result gets the job done (for banks, etc.) and may be fun to show around as a conversation piece for its rarity, but it's probably not going to be an aesthetically pleasing design let alone a work of art.

TYPO Hankos: No Mistakes, Beautiful Designs

Through the years, many of us put a reasonable amount of time and thought into creating a signature that looks aesthetically pleasing and well-designed. Why should a hanko be any different?

A new order-made hanko brand called TYPO (a word inspired by "typography" which accidentally coincides with a synonym for "spelling error") proposes to turn your name into an elegant typographic design in one of two distinct styles, "Geometry" and "Symbol."

"Geometry" creates a soft impression by combining geometric lines with pleasing curves, while "Symbol" creates a bold and modern impression with symbolic design elements.

No Japanese Name? No Worries!

One of the attractive features of this product for non-Japanese visitors unfamiliar with katakana or those who would prefer to make a seal in their native language is that Roman alphabet names can also be designed in the two styles. For example, below, you can see the name "Emma" in both Geometry and Symbol version:

Seal Types

In addition to the conventional seal made either in tsuge 柘植 (boxwood) , kurosuigyu 黒水牛 (black buffalo) [horn], or titanium, you can also get a Sachihata "Slat-G" seal stamp with self-contained ink or "Stampen G", a hanko seal embedded into a working ball-point pen.

From left to right: Tsuge, Kurosuigyu (12 mm: 4,500 JPY / 15 mm: 5,500 JPY), Titanium (12 mm: 6,000 JPY / 15 mm: 8,000 JPY)

Stampen-G 4,000 JPY

Slat-G 4,000 JPY

How To Order

To order yours, go to the TYPO website here (Japanese only) and place your order.

Note 1: Unless your name is one of the 13 examples displayed on the website, there is no way of checking the design of the finished product before it is delivered.

Note 2: You may need to use a forwarding service if you want yours shipped to an address outside of Japan.

By - Ben K.