Here’s Where You Can Buy Cute Personalized Stamps in Kyoto
They're all so pretty!
Tamaru Inbou Teramachi Branch
522 Tenshojimaecho, Nakagyo District, Kyoto
It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
How to get there: It’s a 3-minute walk from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway Station via Tozai Line
Tamaru Inbou is a store that sells personal name stamps that are hand-carved by local artisans. These are often used for official seals or artist’s signatures on calligraphy and other works of art. Until now, seals are still handcrafted according to each request using seal engraving techniques passed down from generation to generation. The fifth-generation owner of this specialty store, Tamaru Taku, explains that original stamp designs are the ongoing trend in Japan.
The front of the store has a shelf filled with stamps. Meanwhile, the stamp-making materials are displayed at the far back. Its sister branch, the Shinkyogoku Branch, is a 10-minute walk from this shop.
Many customers buy the stamps with ojizosan (guardian deity of children), maiko (apprentice geisha), and Kiyomizudera designs. Word stamps with works of literary masters or notable quotes of famous people are also bestsellers.
Some of the customers visit to check out the unique stamps displayed in front of the store, whose designs don’t have a real purpose but are still somehow attractive. These include Kyoto-style designs such as maiko and Kiyomizudera, trending topics, and even witty puns. The unique designs are enjoyed by children, adults, and foreign tourists, and usually catch the attention of people who are passing by.
“These stamps are made with engraving techniques passed on through generations, so the attention to detail cannot be missed,” Tamaru concludes as he talks about their brand’s fame.
Inside the store is a collection of stamp-making materials used in artists’ seals and calligraphy tools.
Tamaru Inbou first opened in 1912 as a variety store. During the Meiji Era, they started making stamps as the seal engraving culture among the townspeople became prominent.
“As a way of giving back to the community, the store developed techniques to engrave the floats used in the Gion Festival and Yasaka Shrine for free,” adds Tamaru.
The photo shows the Kyou ufufu Stamps Series. The stamp designs include geisha stamps, merchants, a shogun series that shows Oda Nobunaga, and a western series too.
The animals and scenery look realistic with their intricate lines. The stamps vary in size, depending on the design, to make sure that there’s enough space on the border.
While hand-carved personal seals have always been the main product of the store, they started making the Kyou ufufu Stamps Series 30-40 years ago. Since then, the designs of the store have increased to up to 3,400 variations. The Hikoto Series—stamps with geishas, shoguns, or literary masters accompanied by a brief passage or expression—is a famous Kyoto souvenir.
Samples of stamps, used to convey a message, are displayed at the entrance of the store. Some of them are in line with the seasons, so they can be used in cards to send greetings.
With the many variations in stamp designs, you can make original pictures using two or more of the Kyou ufufu Stamp Series. The store also has letter stamps that can be used in New Year’s cards and get-well-soon cards, as well as seasonal stamps for season’s greetings. Other than that, you can use them on greeting cards, make your own postcard by mixing and matching the stamps, or decorate your planners and diaries. With so many kinds of stamps available at the store, you’ll find yourself buying more than you originally intended.
The stamps are made with great detail by constantly improving the stamp manufacturing techniques.
Aside from the delicate patterns, the stamps’ overall feeling when being pressed on paper is also quite impressive.
“Perception and the techniques practiced for years are important in making the stamps—from making sure that the drawings and texts are placed properly in their frames to breaking the text into parts so they fit,” Tamaru shares.
Almost all the designs are handwritten, so the artisans can easily adjust the thickness of the lines and make sure that the imprint of each seal looks good.
For each stamp to come out in its best condition, every step in the stamp making process is done carefully.
“Our staff are mostly from art programs or people who love drawing or craftsmanship. We like to work with people who are genuinely interested in the craft because the skills needed in manufacturing can be learned later. There are many art colleges in Kyoto, which is why in the future, we hope to be able to work with students from these schools as well. To anyone who likes drawing or creating things with their own hands, you’re welcome to join!”
The small stamps are sold at reasonable prices, starting from ¥300 (tax excluded). Make sure to drop by this store and see the charms of the stamps yourself!
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (6 September 2019)