Inkan or Hanko is an equivalent of an individual signature in Japan. The inkan or hanko is not a signature but a seal or stamp Japanese use in official documents. Japan stamp culture is different, and it has a rich historical background. Hanko or inkan is compulsory in Japan, especially when you buy property, sign in a legal document, contract sign-on employment paper, etc.

Interestingly, personal stamp culture in Japan is entirely different from the Western stamp culture. In the next part, we will highlight the knowledge of Japan stamp in an elaborate form, and introduce how to keep your stamp secure in a PDF with SwifDoo PDF.


A Brief Background of Japanese Stamp Culture

Hanko or Inkan was introduced in Japan way back in 5500 B. C. Earlier, the hanko was carried as a personal symbol used by farmers and firm house owners. Hanko carried away the private property of Japanese people, and slowly keeping individual stamps became an integral part of their cultural identity.

Over the period, personal stamp in Japan is used by government officials and Samurai on their property, legal and high authority official signatures. In early 1870s, finally, the government passed a law to legalize hanko and registering their hanko for essential legal and personal documents became compulsory.

Post hanko legalization, personal stamp and revenue stamp in Japan are compulsory. Without your registered hanko, you cannot engage in any legal matters.

The Structure of Hanko or Inkan

The size of hanko is small, and its shape, size and materials determine the price. The hanko stamp materials vary from person to person and are available in rubber and traditional wood. Some are in stone, and super-rich people prefer ivory.

Then comes the letter inscribed on the stamp. Here, too, Japanese people show their offbeat choice and keep their surname(myouji) instead of the first name engraved on the seal. The shape of the hanko comes in two variants, circle and square. Based on your myouji, you can place your order. Once you register your hanko at the government office, you will receive your stamp.

Once you receive your hanko, you are legally authorized to buy a house or property in Japan using a Japanese revenue stamp. You can use the hanko at the time of paying property tax there.

Hanko is so prevalent in Japanese culture that the media industry shows it in their famous show Pokemon. This culture had received the limelight after the Pokemon stamp in Japan became an integral part of the entertainment in every household.

Legal and property documents are essential documents where people need to keep stamps safe. The best way to preserve the hanko is to save it in a digital format, and a PDF stamp would be the safest way to hold them on your PC. PDF stamp creator, SwifDoo PDF can help you convert the hanko stamp into a PDF file to be saved.

The Importance of Signature Stamp in Japan

If you are a foreigner in Japan, you can buy property, vehicles, etc., by using your signature. When the purchased expensive items exceed a specific limit, you need your personal stamp or hanko. Anyone can register hanko in Japan under the official government registration law.

If you want to use your hanko in your employment paper or rental agreement document, you first need to register your hanko and then use it to carve your surname (myouji). The signature stamp says that the item or paper belongs to you and you are the sole proprietor of the said items. Your hanko should be preserved digitally for quick and safe sharing with the concerned department in the current era.

How to Add Stamp to PDF

Adding a stamp to a PDF is easy as SwifDoo PDF offers various stamps for PDF documents, which identify the status of the papers, and allows you to add custom stamps. SwifDoo PDF furnishes the document by providing multiple stamps to show the approval status of the documents or the intimate level of your hanko stamp.

In both cases, the hanko stamp will get a secure place, and you can use the documents for a long time. Once you convert your legal papers or confidential documents into PDF files, you ensure its digital preservation for easy sharing without disturbing the originality of the hanko.

Here you need to know that if your hanko is much confidential, you can opt for a password protection using the encryption feature of SwifDoo PDF to make it more secure. 

How to Protect Your PDF Stamp

As legal and property documents are highly confidential, you need to encrypt these documents while preserving or sharing them on digital media. SwifDoo PDF ensures your hanko by providing double layer password protection of the PDF document and preventing unauthorized access.

When you share your legal documents with anyone, the encryption assures you that no one can doctor the file until you give them access. Password protection is the wisest choice when a copy carries your signature seal or stamp. Unofficial access to such a file brings trouble to your life.

SwifDoo PDF allows you to edit your hanko documents if you need to make changes to them. Suppose you mistakenly put the wrong date or place of a signature. In that case, you can edit the document without any further issues.


Japan is one of the most highly civilized countries in the world. They are enriched in their cultural values and strictly followed from generation to generation. You cannot buy any expensive items, movable or non-movable, without your hanko or inkan stamp in Japan.

Technologically advanced Japan preserved their hanko as a PDF stamp for secure and intelligent use. Thus, we can conclude that Japan stamps or hanko/inkan are necessary to buy expensive items. You can preserve safe shares using PDF stamp creator like SwifDoo PDF. Further, the ancient Japanese practice, Japan stamp is getting new life under the surveillance of technology called PDF, a secure format for all kinds of documents.



Susy has worked with PDF tools for more than 5 years. During the past time, PDF software is of huge assistance in increasing her productivity. She joined SwifDoo PDF one year ago and works as an editor now. Based on a lot of research and tests, Susy can offer users professional and practical solutions to PDF issues.