Shinto Shrine and Buddhist Temple Seal Stamps in Japan Shuin (朱印) or Goshuincho (御朱印帳)

During a recent visit to Japan I became enthralled by Shinto Shrine and Buddhist Temple Seal Stamps. While relishing visiting dozens of shrines and temples throughout Japan for their beauty, serenity and calm I also enjoyed the artistry of the stamps and their meaning associated with pilgrimage and acknowledgement. There was a real sense of achievement linked with acquiring stamps as sought by so many. Coupled with this I liked watching the stamps being compiled with skill, creativity and care.

A Shuin (朱印) or Goshuin (御朱印) are called seal stamps that worshippers and visitors to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples collect in special books called shuinchō (朱印帳) or goshuincho (御朱印帳), which are also sold in shrines and temples. Shuin or Goshuin can range in price from ¥300 to ¥1000 yen or donations are welcomed as a means of maintaining the shrines and temples. The style of the shuin or goshuin is unique to every individual shrine or temple. These seal stamps are made in a variety of ways, but typically an image or design is first stamped on the page, then the monk or kannushi (a Shinto “servant of God”) writes the shrine or temple’s name, the date, and sometimes other messages.

From avidly visiting shrines and temples and understanding more about the seal stamps I soon collected a full book of seal stamps called shuinchō (朱印帳) or goshuincho (御朱印帳) of which a few examples have been included within this blog entry.

From reflecting upon this process, the use of such special books for the collection of seal stamps including previous tutor feedback and influences from textile artists like Joanna Kinnersley-Taylor I started to see additional possibilities and options for me within textiles. As a consequence, I aim to start to visualise and evidence some of my own creative processes this way, through visual imagery and text within single folding concertina sketchbooks to create more clearly defined narratives within my creative work.

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