Learn About Japanese Temple Seal Books
If you are traveling to Japan, one of the coolest souvenirs you can buy is a Goshuin-cho!
Goshuin-cho is a book for collecting the unique seal of each temple that you visit in Japan.
You can purchase one of these books at most temples or shrines for around ¥1500 (about $15). Nearly every temple has a booth or counter where a specially-trained temple caretaker or priest will paint calligraphy, usually telling the temple's name, date of visit, and some special prayer for luck or health.
The artist or priest will then affix the temple's unique seal in red ink. Sometimes they will also include a slip of paper (occasionally in English, but most often in Japanese) explaining what they wrote and what it means.
You can get books with plain covers, but it's popular to buy a book with the cover depicting your first seal. The covers come in all sorts of colors and designs.
I picked up my first Goshuin-cho at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan. The front cover shows the most famous view of the temple embossed in gold.
If you can't read Japanese, or even if you can, but can't read calligraphy, it might be a good idea to keep a list of where each page was stamped.
Each seal usually costs ¥300, and proceeds go towards maintaining the temple.
Because it's a beautiful and unique way to preserve memories, I think it's one of the greatest souvenirs you can bring back from a trip to Japan... besides a Tokyo Banana, of course!