Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Kanji Stamp Making

My awesome Japanese friend, Chie, set a group of us up with the opportunity to make our own kanji stamps. You may have seen these on works of art and the like... little squares with ancient kanji characters in them. Well, I can now say I have my own stamp that I created to stamp on my next work of art.

You don't have to travel far to enjoy doing this. It's at the Kikkawa Historical Museum in the Kintai Bridge area. If you know where the large iris flower field blooms in the summer, and you happen to be standing there, then you're probably just a few yards away from the museum. The entrance looks like this:

And here's a map:

And a web site (Use Google Chrome to translate it):

Plan on the class taking about 2 hours. It costs 2,000 yen (About $16) per person. We had 8 people in our group and were done in an hour and 40 minutes, including the time it took the sensei to fix all of our attempted carvings. This is intricate work with a chisel and it is a small classroom, so young children should be left at home. I probably should have been left at home, too, because I don't think I'll be able to make stamps for a living. My effort did not result in a masterpiece. But, with the sensei's help, mine turned out pretty good. It is as close to Guthrie as phonetically possible in kanji, and it stands for "elegance." I'm not sure that's exactly what comes to mind when people think of our family, but OK, I'll go with it. Other friends' kanji stood for "brilliant silk" "gentle music" and "purple," for example.

This is the Guthrie stamp... you read it from right to left. 
This is what "gentle music" looks like. 

You can use regular ink to stamp the images, but the sensei used traditional ink, which is almost like a paste. To properly use the stamp, you must press down hard and wiggle the stamp around gently to get all of the edges.
The stamp in its little cover. The "G" is where I place the thumb of my right hand when stamping so that the stamp is right-side up. 

While you can call and make a reservation for a group class at any time, there will be a drop-in open event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 28 through May 10 (Golden Week time). The sensei did recommend that Americans call to reserve their stamp so that the proper kanji for their names could be researched. but this step is not necessary. However, if you do call ahead with your name, don't be a rude no-show. Even if you can't make it, be sure to go and pay for your stamp, or send someone else to pick it up for you. Have fun!

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