This is something I do every time I visit Japan – collect souvenir stamps of the places that I have visited in my travel guidebook. Or in a little cute notebook. Ink stamps can be found at certain places of interest, such as temples, museums and Japan Rail train stations, in Japan. Each stamp is individually designed for a particular place of interest, and is typically a sketch of the temple, museum or building that it represents.
Not every place of interest has an ink-stamp. So looking for the ink stamp has become like a little treasure hunt that I play (with myself) everytime I go to somewhere new in Japan. Japan never fails to bring out the inner-child in me. I will be running around trying to catch sight of a table holding an ink-stamp and ink-pad. If I don’t spot any, I will usually ask someone working in the place of interest using barely passable Japanese: “Stampu doko desu ka? And when I find an ink-stamp, I pray that there is ink in the ink-pad!
It makes me so happy whenever I manage to add a new ink stamp to my collection. Apart from the fun factor, these ink stamps make a really nice souvenir of the various places that one has visited in Japan.
I was very proud of my last collection of ink stamps which were kept in a copy of the Lonely Planet, collected painstakingly during a number of trips to various parts of Japan. We lent the guidebook to someone and it has not been returned to us. And we cannot remember to whom we lent the guidebook to! Argh.
Now, I have to re-build my collection of ink stamps. During my last trip in October, I collected ink stamps from a couple of temples in Kamakura, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and certain train stations in Tokyo in cute Rilakkuma and Jiji notebooks.
I read on the Internet that the JR East railway line has stamps in 77 stations, and thought that it would be super fun and cool to do a stamp rally in Tokyo. Travel around Tokyo on the subway to all the 77 stations and collect the ink stamps.
I wish we had something similar in Singapore. For example, we could organise a stamp rally which revolves around the tourist attractions in Singapore, and people who have collected a certain number of stamps would be entitled to a commemorative gift. I am pretty sure it will be a hit with children (and adults like me)!