Now that my recaps are over, I’ll be posting some longer articles about specific parts of my trip. I plan to post these on Mondays, along with some more kawaii-themed posts at Super Cute Kawaii on Fridays. They’ll all be added to my Tokyo Shopping Guide index page too.
I’ve been collecting souvenir stamps since my 2008 trip and went well-prepared this time. I carried around a sketchbook at all times and made sure to keep my eyes open for stampers. I managed to collect 24, with just one duplicate from previous trips. You can see them all on Flickr, but here’s a few favourites.
JAXA were the most generous with FIVE stamps to collect around Tsukuba Space Center. That’s one way to make sure you don’t skip any of the exhibits. These were all the traditional style which are around 5″ square so you get a lot detail. In proof that stamps are for everyone, it was me, a young boy and an elderly man avidly collecting stamps that day.
Hamarikyu and Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens are run by the same organisation so they have matching stamps! They also put a blank space on the map so you can add your stamp there.
Train station stamps are the hardest to find as there are so many exits where it could be. I’m not sure if I walked past the one in Hatchobori (my local station) multiple times without seeing it or if they moved it, but I spotted it instantly when I returned from Nagoya. With smaller out of town stations, try and remember not to follow the crowd outside but to stop and look around for the stamp. I’m glad I got the Arashiyama stamp as I left from a different station.
And two of my favourites, from the Moshi Moshi Box in Harajuku and Shinjuku Gyoen. Emma suggested on Instagram that we should design souvenir stamps for our hometowns and that is such a fun idea. If you want to join in, just draw a design for your hometown (or favourite town) that sums it up or shows off a famous landmark. A drawing would be great and you could even carve it into a stamp or have one made for you (email me if you need advice on that). If you do design one, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #mysouvenirstamp and tag me @marcelinesmith.
If you’re heading for Japan yourself, make sure to check for stamps everywhere you visit – you’ll find them at ticket offices, information booths, train stations and in shops. Above is what to look out for. This is a well-organised setup with paper slips, stamp, date stamp, ink pad and cushioned surface. At worst, you’ll just find the stamp and ink pad. Always remember to close the ink pad after you stamp as theres nothing worse than finding a cool stamp and the ink being too dry for a clean print. I noticed a few self-inking stamps this trip, which solves that problem but is a lot less fun. Happy stamping!