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First Timer's Guide to Collecting Goshuin

Japan has always been the best country when it comes to souvenirs. Each city prides itself on its own product which is perfectly suited for the different tastes of tourists. As a travel blogger whose interest is mostly culture and history, I'm naturally inclined to buy souvenirs that remind me of the rich history and culture of the places that I have visited. Oftentimes, I am left with no other option but to buy refrigerator magnets, key chains, and pins. However, during my last visit to Japan, I discovered and got a unique souvenir that I think you'd also love to take home (and bring back to Japan next time you visit). This souvenir would surely remind you of Japan's cultural, religious, and historic side... this souvenir is none other than a goshuin collection.

A goshuin is described as a temple or shrine stamp/seal that is written by a temple priest called a kannushi in a special notebook called goshuincho which translates to "Honorable Red Stamp Book". (The goshuincho is already a beautiful souvenir in itself). The goshuincho can be bought in most temples or shrines. A common goshuincho costs around 1,000 - 1300 yen while a "special" one (goshuincho that have designs showing the unique features of the shrine/temple) costs around 1,500 - 2,000 yen. A goshuincho has around 20-40 pages. Aside from that, keep in mind that in order for one to receive a goshuin, he/she must give a "donation". The donation varies depending on the popularity of the shrine or temple. It is usually 300 yen but may reach up to 500 yen.
You can buy a goshuincho inside temples or temple souvenir shops


Here's my goshuincho from Daigoji

There are many legends on how the practice of collecting goshuin started. However, I won't dwell too much on these legends but one thing is certain... that collecting goshuin was once done only by pilgrims who would want to achieve Nirvana. Today, it has been quite famous for many young people in Japan and some foreign tourists who know about it. Although, it has now become close to being a fad, collecting goshuin is still considered a religious practice and certain manners should still be observed by those who are planning to collect it. Here are the basics of these:

You can get your goshuin in designated areas in the temple vicinity

1. Use only the goshuincho for your goshuin collection. The kannushi will never write a goshuin in an ordinary notebook regardless of any reason. 

2. Don't draw or add anything on a page with a goshuin. Keep in mind that the goshuincho and goshuin are considered sacred by the Japanese. 

3. Never make your own or print out and paste a goshuin to your goshuincho because you have missed the chance to have one during your visit to the temple or shrine. Only a kannushi has the authority to write a goshuin. 

4. Not all temples and shrines practice goshuin. Temples that belong to the Jodo Shinshu (School of Pure Land) like Higashi Honganji and Nishi Honganji does not practice goshuin. *

Here's what you'd see in a goshuin
It was my Japanese godfather who introduced me to collecting goshuin during our visit to Daigoji (Temple) in Kyoto City during our 2018 Japan. It was also in that temple that I got my first goshuincho and goshuin. It was very timely as Daigoji was the very first temple that we've visited during our 22-day adventure in Japan. 

I managed to get a number of goshuin from different temples and shrines around Japan. Just to share, here are my collected goshuin as of 2018:
Daigoji - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Daikodo - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 
Toji - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 
Kinkakuji - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Ryoanji - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 

Kawai Shrine - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture 

Shimogamo Shrine - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Ginkakuji - Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine - Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture

Kinpouzan Shoubouji - Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture
Shipporyuji - Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture

Overall, I do hope this article piqued your interest in collecting goshuin. If it did, go forth and start collecting!


Comments

  1. Nice. So is there just one big room in your house full of goshuin or what's the deal?

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha. the goshuin is in a notebook pal. You won't decorate your house with it.

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  2. I have yet to go to Japan. I really want to though. My brother and his fiance went in June. The only souvenir he brought home though was e.coli! :o

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  3. I have never been to japan but the gosuins looks so awesome. They are too pretty

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  4. That must have been such a honour to get a stamp from a priest on your visit.

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    Replies
    1. That's true. Having a goshuin is an honor in Japanese religious beliefs.

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  5. That's a nice idea for a souvenir! Very original and unique. It's very personal as well.

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  6. I think Japan is not only the best country for collecting souvenirs but also in other things. I truly admire their discipline and work ethics!

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  7. Goshuin really is quite beautiful. It looks like you have a great collection started. Collecting meaningful souvenirs is always better than crap that will end in up a drawer.

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  8. We will finally visit Japan next year for my sons 13th birthday, we are all very excited.

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  9. wow these souvenirs are mesmirizing! Ive never been to Japan, but I would go just to get my hands on thesE!

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    Replies
    1. =) You should make Japan one f your bucketlist destinations.

      Delete
  10. How come I didnt know when i went to japan last time. I have been to temples. Is it only in specific temples they have these stamps I would have loved to have that a part of my souveniers

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    Replies
    1. Most temples have this except for the ones who are School of Pure Land sects like Nishi Hongwanji.

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  11. Nice art from Japan. Gustu kong matutong mag sulat nyan :)

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    Replies
    1. It will take years to master that and kailangan mong manging monghe. hehehe

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  12. Ohh....enjoy readling your sharing here, gonna check out more about gosuins too, thank you :D Cheers, siennylovesdrawing.wordpress.com

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  13. Now I gotta add these to my "list of things to do in Japan". Seriously, I never heard of goshuins until now and these look so cool!

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    Replies
    1. It is. =) you should start collecting it when you visit Japan. =)

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  14. Learnt about goshuin for the first time. Its so beautiful to discover new things unique to the culture of a place. Would love to explore more when we visit Japan. Don't know why, but looking at goshuin, I got reminded of Reiki symbols. Not sure if there is any connection?

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    Replies
    1. Yup it's quite similar to that but this one just tells you that you have prayed and visited in a particular temple. =)

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  15. It looks beautiful. Thanks for increasing my knowledge bcoz I don't know anything about it.

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  16. I haven't heard about collecting goshuin but it sounds really great. They look so beautiful indeed. Thanks for sharing!

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  17. This is something totally new to me and it was beautiful learning about a new and amazing culture

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    Replies
    1. It was only this year that I found out about this wonderful souvenir as well. =)

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  18. OMG finally I think you are the only Filipino male travelers I know who did collects goshuin! It was a very solemn experience, right? Many Filipinos miss this experience.

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  19. Very interesting - so are these letters made into words? Do you know what's written on each of yours?

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    Replies
    1. The temple name, date, and the word Hohai which means pray respectfully is written in most.

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  20. Oh this is really beautiful. I have been a collector of goshuin not because I can read them but just because they look so cool to me. Great read. Thanks for posting!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sheena. =) I'm happy to see plenty of folks collecting goshuin too. =)

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  21. I have got one goshuin got from ship.this is for my information that what is purpose of goshuin and use.

    @Neil Alvin Nicerio ..Please help me then we can keep as a god gift.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Japanese consider them a way to achieve nirvana. You should complete that goshuin. =)

      Delete

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