Hanko personal seals are being phased out

“I want to get rid of hanko personal seals immediately." This statement made on September 23rd by Taro Kono, Minister for Administrative Reform & Regulatory Reform, reflects Japan's hardline against hanko seals taken by Yoshihide Suga ever since he became Prime Minister. As the government prepares to abolish hanko seals across the board within its ministries, the anti-hanko mood is trickling down to the private sector. For example, just two days ago on October 25th, Hitachi announced that it was abolishing all hanko for internal documents.

Perhaps handwritten signatures will make a comeback?

The kaō

Stylized handwritten signatures based on kanji, known as kaō 花押 used to be quite common in Japan. In the Warring States Period, warlords used them to sign letters and official treatises.

From L to R: Kaō of Date Masamune, Oda Nobunaga, and Takeda Shingen | © PR Times, Inc. | Source: 和の大学 「花押とは?」

Kaō are still used to sign cabinet meeting documents even today.

Cabinet meeting document with kaō | © PR Times, Inc. | Source

Nevertheless, with the exception of famous people who need to autograph things, there are relatively few people in this country who spend time or effort fine-tuning a personal signature. And unless they have frequent international dealings, even less so for a signature in Roman letters.

With hanko culture on the wane, however, perhaps "signature culture" will now flourish.

A new opportunity in the post-hanko world

Such is the hope and motivation behind a new service launched by FIT Co., Ltd. and Ribel Co., Ltd. today, October 27th, which happens to be Word and Print Culture Day.

SIGN HACK (not to be confused with the 2002 TV anime .hack//SIGN) proposes to design your John Hancock for the mere cost of USD 180 for one signature (283 USD for complete customization). Additional signature designs can also be ordered for an additional cost (see below for price list).

If you order from SIGN HACK, you can have a signature like this:

Signature types

You can choose between a kanji character signature or a signature in Roman letter, and between a practical type of signature suited to business and formal situations and a more highly designed type of signature more suited for personal use or for artists and entertainers.

English: Practical type

English: "Design" type

Kanji: Practical type

Kanji: "Design" type


  • 1 original signature: starting from 17,000 JPY + tax
  • 2 original signatures: starting from 25,000 JPY + tax
  • 3 original signatures: starting from 25,000 JPY + tax
  • 4 original signatures: starting from 43,000 JPY + tax
  • Option: Complete customization: + 10,000 JPY

For more details and to begin your order, visit SIGN HACK's official website here.

By - Ben K.

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