Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Goshuin - Red Seal Collecting

We spent a week in Kyoto, because last time we only had a couple days there and it felt really rushed.  We both are quite interested in the Sengoku period and the Meiji Restoration era of Japanese history, and Kyoto is a natural hotbed for such things.

So I did my research, developed an itinerary, had Sak check it for transportation feasibility, and off we went.  Since the itinerary included a fair amount of temples and shrines, I wanted to try collecting goshuin (red seals).

Basically, you can have your goshuincho (red seal book) stamped with the temple/shrine stamp, and then a priest will sign in calligraphy the name of the shrine/temple and the date of your visit.
The colorful squares are the different shuincho (seal books) we had to choose from at our first temple - Mibu-dera!
I picked the sakura design.
I think they were supposed to write something on the other side though? Or maybe we were supposed to do that?
It's so prettty!
The shuincho came with our first shuin! Nice! 
They are really cool, and a very unique way of noting your visit.  Most of the shuin are 300 yen.  Some of the larger or more crowded shrines/temples will not write you an individual shuin - but rather a stamp or a pre-stamped paper upon entry.
Sak waiting for his shuincho to be stamped/signed at Fushimi Inari.
Fushimi Inari Shrine's shuin
Some temples/shrines don't do shuin at all.  Instead of looking silly by asking at every place we went, Sak learned to look for the kanji for the red seal (usually in red), which looks like this:

Though I found it easiest to just look for the last kanji, that looks like an "EP" to my white-girl eyes. Usually if they have a sign somewhere with this kanji (typically with an arrow pointing where to go), the shrine/temple will do shuin. You can ask, or just wave your goshuincho around and they will know what you want.
One of many different designs from the Enryakuji temple complex
 Initially I was worried about possible disrespect by mixing shinto and buddhist shuin in the same book, but no one seemed to care.  Some of the priests liked to look through our previous pages to see where we've been! Haha.
Shuin from Kurama-dera, which isn't really a shinto or a buddhist temple.  though the character in the lower left (chi?) is my favorite with its cute curly on the end!
We collected 10 shuin, all but one of them hand written.  It was fun to collect and to see different handwriting styles! I think they are quite beautiful!
The fully stamped, non hand-written one, from Tenryu-ji.

Sak wanted to fill up the whole book by going to random temples we saw, but I was pretty adamant about only getting seals for places that we had researched the history of first.  More meaningful that way I think.
Toyokuni shrine's shuin - Toyotomi Hideyoshi's shrine! Can't get much more steeped in sengoku history than Hideyoshi!
You do not need to be Buddhist or Shinto (we aren't) to request a goshuin.  I don't think there is any particular religious significance to the seals, other than they are a way of recording one's temple/shrine pilgrimage. Per wiki, it was supposedly a receipt originally!
Kibitsu Shrine.  I love how every shuin has such unique handwriting!
 From Sanjusangendo temple, a wild style!
Sak, waiting again.  This was at Toyokuni shrine.
From Kibune shrine.
We will definitely have to go back someday so Sak can fill the book up to completion!  I wish we would have known about goshuin during my first visit!

1 comment:

  1. That's SO cool!!! Very unique and much better than buying crap (as a souvenir/experience). :)

    LOLOLOL: "that looks like an "EP" to my white-girl eyes"


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