Japan: Have you got a hanko?

Me: A hanko?

Japan: Yeah. You need one if you live with me.

Me: What is it?

Japan: It’s your stamp.

Me: My stamp?

Japan: Yes. Your official stamp.

Me: My official stamp?

Japan: Oh yes. The hanko is a small round stamp about the size of your little finger with your family name on the end of it.

Me: Okay. An official name stamp. Why do I need this?

Japan: To stamp things.

Me: …

Japan: Official things.

Me: …?

Japan: You know, documents and stuff.

Me: Official documents?

Japan: Yes. You have to use your hanko to stamp your official documents.

Me: Where?

Japan: Official places. The bank, the post office, legal stuff, rental agreements, loans, that sort of thing.

Me: I see.

Japan: I’ve been doing this for hundreds of years. It’s good, isn’t it?

Me: Yeah, sure. Actually, hang on. Why can’t I just sign these official documents?

Japan: Because that’s not a stamp. That’s a signature. You could forge that. You can’t forge a hanko.

Me: Ah, so the hanko is unique to me?

Japan: Yes.

Me: How?

Japan: Because it’s got your family name on it.

Me: And what if somebody has the same family name as me?

Japan: Well, then, yeah, er, they might have the same name on the hanko. I mean, you can buy them in shops and stuff.

Me: So how is the hanko unique to me?

Japan: Because you’re the only person who’s got your hanko.

Me: But somebody might have the same surname and, therefore, the same hanko.

Japan: No, they’ll have a different hanko. They’ll have theirs. You’ll have yours. Plus you can customise your hanko or have it hand-made.

Me: But that’s the same as a signature.

Japan: No. You can forge a signature.

Me: But you can buy the same hanko as somebody else in a shop.

Japan: Yeah, but that’s not your hanko. That’s their hanko.

Me: But –

Japan: Look. Say you go to the bank and sign something but your signature doesn’t exactly match 100% with your original signature that you used the first time you opened the bank account years earlier. What will the bank clerk do?

Me: Erm, ask to see some kind of identification with a photograph and the use their innate, naturally sourced, life acquired common sense and conclude –

Japan: No, no, no. They’ll make you sign it again and again until matches 100% perfectly.

Me: And what if it doesn’t?

Japan: Then you can use your hanko.

Me: But I don’t have a hanko.

Japan: This is why you need one. It’ll be unique to you.

Me: But –

Japan: Just shut up and get a hanko.


November 6, 2014. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized.

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