Hanko, the traditional Japanese ink stamps used to sign official documents, are facing extinction. Japanese companies are ditching the device as it fails to function in the digital world, even banks; perhaps the hanko’s most inveterate loyalists. COVID-19 has only expedited the hanko’s demise as the world desperately seeks to replace the in-person contractual exchanges in which hanko are used with digital alternatives like e-signatures. The device’s only chance of survival is to look for a new purpose and evolve.

Industrious hanko makers have succeeded in this respect through character collaborations, like these Gotta-stamp-em-all Pokemon PON stamps. A total of 493 Pokemon, spanning four generations from Kanto to Sinnoh, are already available in hanko form, allowing everyone to add their names to documents alongside their favorite pocket monster.

Now the next stage in Pokemon PON hanko’s evolution is here and it imbues the device with a new purpose: helping kids keep their hands clean to fight sickness!

What? Pokemon hankos are evolving!?

On September 4th, maker of the Pokemon PON hanko series, Okada Shokai Co., Ltd., released a new line of Poke-hanko specifically to be used on kids' hands.

The stamp allows customers to choose from 493 different Pokemon designs including super cute fan favorites such as Pikachu, Evee, Togepi and Torchick. Each hanko also stamps one of four Japanese words: 予防 (yobou), “prevention", ピカピカ (pikapika),”shiny”, キレイ(kirei), "clean," and 手洗い, tearai, "hand wash”.

Parents can stamp their kid’s hands with the hanko before they go to school and kids can have fun being reminded to keep their hands clean by the cute image of their favorite Pokemon alongside a hygienic slogan. By trying to wash the stamp off their hands, it is hoped that kids will form positive hand washing habits in a fun way.

By turning the traditional Japanese seal into a tool for maintaining good hygiene, Pokemon PONs are now poised to help fight the coronavirus, a disease which ironically looked set to be the nail in the hanko’s coffin. With pikachu and pals on hand in hanko form to help promote hand washing however, the device’s evolution and new purpose look set to last.

If you want to feel the overwhelming hygienic power of Pokemon in the palm of your hand, catch your very own Pokemon PON hanko here

Each hanko costs ¥2,200 (including tax).

By - Toby M.