Hanko (Personal Seal)
In Japan, seals in general are referred to as inkan (印鑑 or いんかん) or hanko (判子 or はんこ). There are two kinds of seals: a personal seal, called mitome-in (認印 or みとめいん) and an officially registered seal, called jitsu-in (実印 or じついん). A registered seal is needed to conduct business, for example, opening an account in some banks or purchasing land.
Traditionally, inkan are engraved on the end of a stick of hard wood, bone, or ivory, with a diameter between 25 and 75 mm. Their carving is a form of calligraphic art. Foreign names may be carved in rōmaji, katakana, hiragana, or kanji.
In modern Japan, most people have several inkan. Men’s seals are generally larger than those of women, and highly ranked executives generally have larger hanko than their subordinates. The most secure and complex forms of hanko are used for banking and real estate dealings, while off-the-shelf varieties are used for everyday tasks such as signing for delivery of packages.
Below is a picture of my hanko.