47Ronin Watch Strap's Logo: 4000 years of Japanese Traditional Stamp Craving
When you look at 47Ronin's logo, I am sure you see "47" but do you know that below it is "浪人" (Ronin) the Kanji character in its ancient Chinese font? This logo comes from a handcrafted stamp (hanko), carved out from wood, a master piece by the hands of a Japanese craftsman in Kagoshima, Japan.
47Ronin logo stamps comes in a very nice box.
Sandwiched between nondescript shops in the city of Kagoshima, it might be difficult to spot the humble shop front of 永長印房 (Nagaosa Printing), a specialty stamp carving business.
A photo of Nagaosa-san and I in front of his shop in Kagoshima.
While on a business trip to Kagoshima to meet travel industry experts to discuss plans to promote Kagoshima travels in Singapore, I visited Nagaosa Printing. The shop owner who greeted me was an elderly man in his seventies. Beyond his wrinkles and slight frame, Nagaosa-san was still bright and energetic.
Some very elaborated hand-carved stamps on display inside the shop.
Apparently, Nagaosa-san’s family has been in this line of business for many years and Nagaosa-san himself is a 3rd generation stamp carver. As personal stamps (or hanko) are used to verify official documents and are easily replicable, his family was tasked by government bodies in Kagoshima to check the authenticity of stamps on documents. This is certainly telling of Nagaosa Printing’s expertise! Unfortunately, Nagaosa-san will also be the last generation of stamp carvers in his family as there will not be anyone else who will continue this craft.
Nagaosa-san starts to design the stamp by drafting out Kanji characters in their ancient fonts using brush and ink.
I had a hard time wondering which design to choose from. LOL
In an age of rapid technological transformation, stamps are considered archaic and impractical, only existing for cultural value. Although personal seals or hanko are still used for signing official documents (e.g. opening a bank account, law documents, etc…), this practice is soon to be overhauled.
Nagaosa-san shows me this very very old booklet full of records of his company and the hanko industry's history, all the way to his grandfather's era.
For instance, in 2016, MUFG announced that online processes put in place will eradicate the use of hanko. The creeping up of digitalisation inevitably demands such practices to be abolished in favour of a paperless society. In such a society, the sunset industries of stamp carving, along with other traditional Japanese practices like kimono weaving, will probably exist only for cultural preservation and tourism novelties.
This is an old group photo fo all the stamp crafters in the whole of Kyushu area.
The stylised characters drawn up by Nagaosa-san captured exactly what 47Ronin was about – trendsetting, unique and one-of-a-kind. This was a feat done by someone with years and years of practice and expertise.
Nagaosa-san rolls up his sleeve and starts to work. One hand is securing the the wood block firmly while the other hand holds the carving knife, dancing gracefully over the wood block.
The carving knives and tools.
There are also hanko stamps made from exotic animal bones and horns.
These high class black hanko stamps are made from buffalo horns.
Hanko stamp carving is a creative craft which you can simply have any design, font, and shapes on a little piece of wood.
So, this is how 47Ronin Watch Strap's logo came about. 47Ronin logo is unique, one of its kind in this world, created by generations of dedicated craftsmen, with centuries of combined skill, knowledge, and creativity. More importantly, it is created with the craftsmen's spirit, with the end customer in mind, and devotion in providing a perfect piece of craft to the user.
All these craftsman spirit and preservation of tradition are also very much embraced by us at 47Ronin Watch Straps.
If you are interested in having a personal hanko stamp for yourself, or to create a unique logo for your brand, do reach out to us and we can provide you a unique piece from Nagaosa Printing from Kagoshima, Japan. (contact email@example.com)
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