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Some of you may have visited temples and shrines before, but I am guessing that not many people know about goshuin. It was originally a stamp that you were given when offering a sutra that you wrote to temples and shrines. Today, you can get it without having to offer a sutra, just by paying 300 to 500 yen.
Goshuin usually consists of a vermillion color stamp that indicates the name of a temple or shrine and the date and the name of the temple or shrine written in black charcoal. Each temple and shrine has a different stamp. It will be a good souvenir for the memory of visiting shrines and temples.
How to get a goshuin
A Goshuin has a special meaning that is about a temple or shrine’s name, so you should respect it and should get it after praying to the God.
When receiving Goshuin, you need to prepare the Goshuin-cho (notebook). Please do not use just any usual notebook or memo pad. You can find one at a shop selling Buddhist articles, or stationary shop, and sometimes, larger temples and shrines will have their own original goshuin-cho available for purchase. The place to get goshuin is different in each temple/shrine, but they are usually called “Goshuin-jo” or “Nokyo-jo.” In smaller temples/shrines, they might not have a sign for it, so please ask them if you can’t find it. It is usually given after praying to God, and some temples/shrines require you to deposit the goshuin-cho first, and pick it up when leaving. Be prepared to bring small change to pay the fee quicker and easier.
The deep and fun world of Goshuin
There are no specific rules for collecting goshuin, but if you want to enjoy it more, I recommend doing “goshuin-meguri.” It requires that you you travel to several temples/shrines to collect the stamps that are associated with something in common. For example, the “7 deities meguri,” means to visit several temples that are associated with 7 lucky gods and collect the goshuin from each one. You can even come up with your own reasons to collect them, for instance, there are unique designs and seasonal goshuin stamps available, and so it might be fun to collect them.
Goshuin is not only a way of proving your visit to a shrine/temple, but it’s also nice to become more familiar with shrines/temples through collecting their unique stamps.
These are goshuin from Tsutsuji-oka Tenmanguu. It’s stamped over 2 pages. Because the enshrined god, Sugawara no Michizane, or Tenjin-sama, is a god of study, there is an included waka poem that he had read.
※ Please know that, depending on the sect, you may not be able to get a goshuin.