The Goshuincho: A Necessity for Japan Travel Enthusiasts
When it comes to things that I wish I had known before visiting (and eventually moving to) Japan, the goshuincho, a book used for collecting ink stamps and calligraphy from Japanese shrines, tops the list. So, allow me to save you some regret. If you are planning on visiting Japan, do yourself a favor and pick up a goshuincho at the first shrine or temple that you visit. A goshuincho can be the perfect memento for your travels and an elegant record of the many beautiful shrines and temples that you’ll see in Japan.
What Is a Goshuincho?
To understand what a goshuincho is, let’s dive into a brief Japanese lesson. The word, shuincho (朱印帳) is composed of two main parts. “Shuin” (朱印) means “red stamp/seal” and “cho” (帳) translates to “book/register.”
You may be wondering, what about the “go” (御)? This is simply added to make the term honorific. Bring everything together, and you have goshuincho, a book that serves as a beautiful record of your pilgrimages. However, there are responsibilities that come with the pleasure and privilege of filling up one of these beloved books.
A Quick Primer on Collecting Shuin
When it comes to collecting stamps from shrines and temples, a bit more reverence is required than with similar activities such as the modern-day “stamp rally.” Although no profession of religion is required to enjoy shuin collecting, it’s important to remember that Japan’s temples and shrines are places of worship, and it’s a good idea to be respectful during your visit.
With that being said, here’s a step-by-step process for starting your collection:
- Pick a large or famous temple or shine to visit. Not all temples and shrines offer shuin services, so if your time in Japan is short, chose your shrine wisely.
- Pay your respects upon arrival. Shuin stamps represent the completion of a pilgrimage, so it’s important to actually interact with the shrine during your visit. Rushing in, collecting a stamp, and then rushing out is frowned upon.