What you really need is a small, vibrant image of a dog to tie your personal seal together.

Move to Japan without much cultural preparation and you’re in for some surprises: the sheer volume of vending machines, for instance, or the strange toys, or the hole-in-the-ground Japanese toilets. But one thing that trips up people at a more serious level is the hanko, or personal name stamp. These personalized stamps are necessary to sign up for most banks, phone services and apartment leases, and most people actually have two – the official one for signing all your bureaucratic paper work, and a cheaper more casual one that you use for accepting packages.

What both versions have in common is that they feature the holder’s surname, usually in kanji. Registered hanko are typically boring and plain, featuring your name and nothing else, but unregistered hanko for packages or signing up for phone plans have a bit more creative freedom. And when you’re in the market for a creative hanko, there’s no better place to visit than custom stamp maker Hankozu, who we’ve featured before for their stylish kitty stamps and cute Pokémon designs.

This time humanity’s best friend is the focus. While Hankozu have produced puppy stamps prior to this line, they were cartoony and lushly illustrated. This most recent line, Hyokkori Wan (‘Sudden Bark’) favors a classy, elegant font and some understated canine silhouettes, as well as expanding their palette to cover 15 different distinct breeds.

▼ Customers can pick between miniature schnauzers, chihuahuas, toy poodles, corgis, and Shiba Inus…

▼ Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers and Shih Tzus, French bulldogs, Malteases…

▼ Pugs, Cavaliers, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers.

The stamps can be personalized further by choosing one of three different fonts, each of which integrate the gamboling dog into your name’s characters. For example, on the right below we see the dog perching on the bisecting line of the ‘naka’ kanji (in the common Japanese family name ‘Nakamura’).

But wait, there’s even more customization available! You can choose to pair your choice of dog with one of three typical dog toys; a tennis ball, a bone or a frisbee. Crunch the numbers on the possible combinations…they’re practically endless!

Each step of the selection process does come with a warning: though you can choose whatever combination you like, your personal kanji may not gel especially well with a pug running after a frisbee. So let your hanko designer have final say, lest you end up with an unreadable and unrecognizable stamp that turns your name into a dog’s dinner.

The stamps can be ordered through Hankozu’s Rakuten store, and range in price depending on the casing you choose. The cheapest is the plastic, automatic ink-dispensing Jointy case at 4,000 yen (US$37.21); the carved wood case typical for standard wooden Hanko is 5,200 yen, as is the version with a black kuro-suigyu ox horn case. The “Eco Birch” case also costs 5,200 yen, and is named for the ecologically harvested red birch wood it is carved from. This version also comes in three fun colors: red, brown and grey!

Source: PR Times via Japaaan Magazine
Top image: PR Times
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