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Introducing Inkan Carving

This video, titled "「TOKYO匠の技」技能継承動画「印章彫刻熟練技能編」," was created by "東京都 Tokyo Metropolitan Government."

There are many "craftsmen" in all sorts of fields in Japan.
Inkan makers, too, are known as craftsmen.
The inkans carved by these craftsmen, using skills that were passed down to them and refined over the years, are truly works of art.

This article will introduce the craft of carving inkan alongside the video.

What Is Inkan Carving?

Inkan carving is the art of making the inkan used by companies and people every day in Japan.
Inkan craftsmen are known as "insho chokoku ginoshi" (印章彫刻技能士), which roughly translates to "Seal Carving Technician."
There is a Grade 1 and Grade 2 ranking for this titled.
The certification exam is held once a year.
Applicants are required to pass both an academic and practical examination before they are officially certified.

In order to make a living as a craftsman, it's necessary to continuously accumulate knowledge about inkan.
Although machine carving is now the norm, hand-carved inkan are still bought and sold today.

In the video, the Grade 1-ranked Seal Carving Technician Tomonari Sanada (眞田智成) shows us how an inkan is made.
If you’re interested in Japan’s inkan culture, definitely check out the video. Below is an overview of the video.

Introduction of the carving tools and materials used for the inkan

The process of creating an inkan

Making a seal with the newly-crafted inkan
This process can be viewed from 1:03 in the video.
Through this nearly 40 minute video, you'll gain an appreciation for the skills of the inkan craftsmen.

Summary of Inkan Carving

The world of inkan carving has many unseen depths and layers, and a high level of skill is required of the craftsmen.
This video is a great introduction to the world of inkan carving.

When visiting Japan, besides enjoying the gorgeous scenery and tasting delicious food such as sushi, why not experience Japanese culture and traditional crafts as well?
Besides inkan, there are many other traditional crafts in Japan, giving you plenty of things to discover.

In addition, hanko and inkan are popular souvenirs for foreigners as well.
These are easily available through online stores, so consider checking them out!

Written By
Last Updated : Oct. 6, 2022
鈴木 正孝(Masataka Suzuki)
A writer born and raised in Asakusa, Tokyo who loves traveling and novels
The Inkan – A Crucial Item for All of the Important Events in Your Life, and an Essential Part of Japanese Culture. In This Article, We'll Hear From the Inkan Craftsmen Who Skillfully Carve the Complicated Designs for Inkan!
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