Recently I've found something I haven't been using for a decade. It's a seal, hanko in Japanese. Instead of signing, Japanese people put the seal on any document. For the different purposes, they normally have various types of selas. For the usual use, only shows their family name but for something more important use, it shows the full name.
There are stil many seal makers (hanko shokunin) running the business all over Japan and they engrave the name by hand on any materials and font you like.
For seals, you can chose from various materials from different types of wood to ivory which can cost 64,900 yen (about $774). You need to buy a stamp pad which always comes in red. I've never seen other colour.
Once you have your seal, get a hanko case like this.
But for the daily use, to put the seal for receiving a parcel, you couldn't be bothered taking the hanko out, stamp is and wipe the ink etc.. Don't worry, there is a mechanical type which the ink is already set in, called shachihata.
I remember this was always at the entrance of the house in the little basket where the keys were, and when the postman came, I'd stamp the hanko to receive a parcel or a letter.
Putting seal correctly is a quite important thing for Japanese people. If you put it on the wrong place or if it's not straight, your clients may not accept the document and can return it to you. Actually there are quite many forums and websites where teach them how to put the hanko perfectly.
This is an basic example.
this is good
this is bad
Recent increase of foreign workers or residents, hanko is available in Katakana.
With this hanko, now you can sign in properly in Japan.
This weekend, millions of Japanese girls are working on really hard. On what? On chocolate!!
The 14th of February is the day which sells chocolate the most in a year in entire Japan.
In Western country, St.Valentine’s Day is the day for couples. Yes, it’s the same in Japan. But only difference is, Japanese girls give chocolate to the boys they like. Well, actually, not only to the boys but also to their bosses and colleagues, because if you are man and you don’t get any chocolate on the St.Valentine’s Day, it can be quite hurtful as a man. Also it’s a shameful thing for Samurai spirits. To avoid the boys to commit Harakiri, Japanese girls prepare two separate boxes.
Here is the trick. The chocolate for the boy she likes or her boyfriend is called “honmei choco”. Honmei means favorit or certain thing whereas the one for the bosses and colleagues is called “giri choco”. Giri means duty or social obligation. Main difference between honmei and giri chocolate is the price.
If you are given something like these,
You are “honmei”. By the way, the chocolete at the bottom cost 3,400yen (about $40).
But if you are given like this,
which costs only 275 yen (about $3), means the girl is just being polite.
Here, these people explain very well about Japanese Valentine’s Day.
According to an economic news, this year’s chocolate sales is growing as the 14th coincide with a weekday. It’s a good day to be a boy or a man. If you are not the most popular guy in Japan, obviousy you have a reason to hate this day. In that case, never mind and just sing along with this song. “Sine! Barentain Dei!” (A-hole, St. Valentine’s Day!)
Apart from this chocolate scandal, there are some sweet things going on, too.
In Kyoto, a taxi company changed its symbol green clover into pink. Also to sweeten up even more, all women driver in the compay will be in full operation.
Many traditional senbei (rice crackers) shops are making heart sheped senbei.
And at last, in the up north, in Aomori prefecture, a special Valentine train named “Nasa Mero Meros” (I’m in love with you in Aomori dialect) is running during the Valentine’s Day period. You can get some photos with your partner in the “love booth”.