Secret souvenirs.

I loved learning about this. It’s one of those things that I wish I had known about sooner, because it’s so different and interesting. To me, these almost seemed like a secret…I’d never seen one before.

Do you already know about shuin?  A shuin is a stamp from Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. You can collect the stamps in blank notebooks called shuinchō.


The way it works is that you buy one of these blank notebooks at a temple, then you get the book stamped at each shrine or temple that you visit. A monk from the temple will press a red-inked stamp onto a blank page, then layer over it with black hand-drawn calligraphy.


The temple book becomes a record of the shrines and temples you’ve visited. It’s a beautiful souvenir.


Sometimes the best “secrets” are hidden in plain sight.

What souvenirs have you discovered in your travels?


  1. In Hong Kong I bought a “chop” which is a personalized Chinese seal. My name in Chinese characters is carved into a beautiful stone which I can use with a bright red paste/ink to transfer to paper. A beautiful way to sign artwork or letters. I haven’t used it in a few years so I will have to dig it out. Thanks for jogging my memory!

  2. My “secret” souvenir:

    In the early 90’s (not sure if they do this anymore), people in France would collect and trade phone cards.

    Even completely used ones could be bought at stamp collecting stores. The phone cards had some amazing art work or something of interest.

    People in France were crazy about the cell phone way earlier than the U.S. It was cheaper- for them. Home phones were too expensive. But as students during our abroad year (at that time), it was cheaper- for us- to get and use a phone card. And then call home at a pay phone.

    It was a great souvenir; no one in the States would have it. Plus, it was a personal reminder of our time in France- used to first call home and then later to reflect on an amazing time. All at the size of a credit card, that could be slipped into a pocket- taking no space or adding weight to the suitcase!

    A souvenir that took literally almost zero space and weighed almost nothing!!! Unheard of, right? Found it! LOL

    Upon going home? Buy a baseball card self-standing plastic holder, insert French phone card, and voila! Desk converstation starter at work or in the dorms!! 🙂

  3. I have a Japanese hanko, Chinese, and Korean chop, personal name stamps. I use them to stamp my students’ papers and as such, there is no way for them to duplicate it and claim they did their work on time in case they didn’t.

  4. What a treasure! So gorgeous and special. I brought back a parking sticker from Iceland. They give them out at gas stations for people to stick to the windshield to time and pay for public parking instead of meters or attendants. Not so personal, but unique, brings back happy memories, and I see it almost every day.

  5. Your leftover change! Glue a magnet to the back of the coins and place on your refrigerator. Our fridge is a great conversation starter. 🙂


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