I love collecting tourist stamps. But I’m not referring to postage stamps or even passport stamps, although that idea is really intriguing.
A lot of stationery nerds may (or maybe not) know that some countries in North Asia, namely Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have a tradition of tourist stamps. These occur a lot at train stations, subway stations and most places of interest. I am one of those who will make it a point to collect these whenever I have a chance to travel to any of these countries.
Most of us travel around with a travel diary, be it a dinky little notebook or the world’s most bedecked Traveller’s Notebook. The thing with these stamps is they are easy to mess up, especially in a bound notebook.
I have found many times that my travel diary / notebook (usually small sized so it is a convenient and light EDC) is not big enough to accommodate the stamp, or the binding gets in the way, and many more times, the ink of the stamp simply ghosts through the paper and destroys whatever is on the previous page.
Other times, my travel diary is simply filled up with receipts and what-nots that make the surface too bumpy to get a clean imprint. Sometimes, the travel stamp is located on a small rickety table with limited space, and your TN just is not able to fit and let you stamp properly.
Some places do offer commemorative booklets or just slips of paper, but not all do.
On this recent trip to Osaka and Kyoto, I decided that enough was enough, no more messy stamps. I was determined to come back with clean, clear imprints.
Here’s my tip.
Get some fairly good paper, a pen-knife and something to crease your paper. I bought whatever was available at my local stationery shop: this A5 size drawing block with 135gsm white drawing paper.
I find that A6 is usually a good enough size to accommodate most, if not all, tourist stamps. Some of the Japanese train station ones are huge (as you will see later). I found this paper to be pretty good for this purpose. It is thick enough that the ink doesn’t ghost through and smooth enough that the ink doesn’t bleed either.
If, like me, you don’t have a bone folder (you can buy this Martha Stewart one or) just grab an old credit card, bank card or travel card.
Fold each piece of paper in half, crease it with the card and slice it in half. Keep these in a folder or slot in your travel diary or even wallet. I slotted mine in my black Midori Traveller’s Notebook in a DIY plastic folder, which I have talked about before in this post.
It is very convenient to then just slip one out and collect your stamp, anytime you spot one! Once you’re back at home, it’s easy to then cut them out and stick them into your travel journal.
I’m heading to Taipei at the end of the month, and I already have a stack of papers waiting for me to renew my collection of their Metro station stamps!
Want to know more about tourist stamps? I found this fun read about Japan’s Eki Stamps, and this one about the Taipei Metro ones.