“Inkan” or a “hanko” or a name seal
In Western countries, a signature is used on documents while in Japan a inkan or last name seal is used in place of a signature. In Japan, a inkan is necessary for almost everything such as renting an apartment, entering school or opening a bank account or etc.
A Inkan or hanko is also called “sanmonban” which is the most popular type and an inexpensive ready-made seal which can be purchased at a hanko-ya or seal shop or stationery or even one dollar shop.
A foreigners name seal can be made with Chinese characters (kanji), katakana or Roman letter and used one’s first name, surname or both names. It has been said that if you have a name seal made in Yamanashi, where is well-known for the name seals, it will likely become a lifelong treasure. So, you can get it as a souvenir to friends. Or, if you are going to live in Japan, hanko is the first thing you have to get it to survive in Japan.