By Desiree Oude Groothuis



A lot of our Japanese friends have a hobby that is entertaining and not expensive at all. The only thing you need is a little notebook that absorbs ink well.

Not only is it a souvenir from a place you went, the hunt for it and the collecting part is very satisfying, I know because I did it myself last april when I was in Japan with my daughter.

They call it a Stamp Rally!



Collecting stamps is something that exists for a long time already in Japan.

It all goes back to the beginning of the 19th century, allthough back then the stamps were all handmade of course and different then the ones now.

The first companies that used stamps as a kind of ‘entertainment’, are the large amount of Japanese Traincompanies. They introduced a table with stamps at every trainstation to stamp your notebook with. The bigger Trainstations like Tokyo have more than one stamp. And every stamp is unique!

Other big companies, locations and attractions followed this trend, this way getting more people to visit them. And this worked!

Big Train company East Japan Railway has Exclusive events where you can get a very special Stamp, only for that day!


It gets even better when the old stamp moves for a new one with a whole new image!

The old stamp goes up in value and the new one means you have to go get there again!

On the stamps you can see local attractions, like a castle, a temple or a shrine and sometimes cetrain animals or mascottes from that region.

Just like postage stamps they are collectables and sometimes worth a lot of money.


Next to retrieving the stamps there is a lively exchange market and many possibilities to admire other peoples stampbooks at events held.

Mostly the idea is to get a complete collection. Is s certain collection complete mostly the Company or event will give out a little present.

For example at the 2005 World Expo (in Aichi prefecture, close to Nagoya) there was a special EXPO Stamp Passport. After filling this all up with stamps you could exchange it for a nice souvenir.

Avid collectors would of course get two books sto fill up, ginving one away in the end.


At the bigger Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples you can get rare and very unique stamps. Sometimes one location has multiple stamps to get.

If you are lucky there is a priest or a monk that can make you a  “shuin” in your notebook

SHUIN or an example of a  “Goshuin”

To make a shuin the kannushi (at a Shinto) or monk (at a Buddhist temple) uses one or more big stamps and makes a calligraphy text over the stampimages. It will have the name of the Shrine or temple in it, the date of your visit and some nice words or sentences.


Many Japanese use their selfmade notebook but there are special notebooks for sale in Japanese bookshops, even at the Airport or Stations. Some priests or monks only want to write the Goshuin in these official Leporello booklets. 

This Stamp collecting Trend has also been seen in neigbouring countries like Taiwan at special touristic Locations.

We had lots of fun hunting stamps, although sometimes its hard to find the table with stamps. Looking back on our trip we really love our Souvenir Stamp book so much.

Next time in Japan I am going to buy the official stampbook to get more stamps!

Gotta stamp’m all!