When I was writing about my Nara trip early this year (2017), I first mentioned about goshuin-chō 御朱印帳 and that it’s the best souvenir one can get for oneself from Japan. At that time, I was visiting Todai-ji 東大寺, my very first temple visit in Japan, where I came across this seal book. Although I came to know about goshuin-chō (pre-trip) and decided not to get it (pre-trip also), I was in deep dilemma when facing the real deal. “Should I get it or should I not get it?” Ohh I asked this questions many times in my head and to my travel partners.
My heart told me to get it because it’s a very unique momento as one can only get it in Japan.
My mind told me “Hey, it’s expensive!”. “You need to pay for the seal book and also the seals.”
In the end, I went with my heart. ❤️
Did I made the right choice? Wholeheartedly a big YES!
For those who has never heard of goshuin-chō, you must be scratching your head by now. Allow me to explain what it is and the thrills of collecting goshuin 御朱印 (seals) at temples and shrines as well as watching getting it sealed.
Goshuin-chō 御朱印帳 or also known as shuin-chō 朱印帳 is a seal/stamp book. ‘Go’ 御 is an honorific prefix. As the name suggest, it’s a book where you get the pages stamp with special seals of the temples and shrines you are visiting. The book has an ancient style format called orihon 折本 which was and still is use in China and later Japan for Buddhist texts. The orihon is a folding book style, folded in continuous zig zag format like an accordion or concertina. I, myself own a small orihon printed with Buddhist mantras.