Goshuin (御朱印)

Goshuin is a stamp that is given at a shrine or a temple. It is usually called 'goshuin' instead of 'shuin' without a prefix.

Different from a 'memorial stamp,' it is stamped by staff or a Buddhist monk of a temple or a Shinto priest.
In addition to making an impression, information such as the name of the temple and the date of visit is written in ink below the impression, and the impression together with the ink writing are collectively called 'goshuin.'

Although there are many theories about the origin of goshuin, the most powerful theory is that it was used as a seal of reception when sutra copies were submitted to temples.
For this reason, goshuin is sometimes referred to as 'nokyoin (seal of copied sutra submission).'
There are still some temples that will not give goshuin unless sutra copies are submitted, but at many temples, goshuin will be given by donating a small amount of money (hatsuho-ryo (ceremony fee) or offerings). As of 2007, it is often 300 yen at many temples, but some require as much as 500 yen or more.
Some do not indicate the amount as they want visitors to 'donate their goodwill.'

Goshuin is usually stamped on a 'goshuin-cho' (goshuin note) created by folding paper in multiple panels and attaching hard cover pages. Goshuin-cho is available at temples or stationery shops.

Since a goshuin includes the name of a temple, it is regarded as being the same as talismans given at a temple and therefore is always to be handled with respect. In fact, quite a lot of people keep their goshuin-cho at a household Shinto alter or a Buddhist alter. Some temples refuse to give goshuin on a casual stamp-collection notebook or memo pad.

Special goshuin-cho, paper, or hanging scrolls may be available when a pilgrimage, such as the 44 Saigoku sacred sites pilgrimage and 88 Shikoku sacred sites pilgrimage, involves visits to multiple temples. In a sacred ground tour such as the 88 Shikoku sacred sites pilgrimage, goshuin may be given on a byakue costume to be worn during the pilgrimage.

Note that, in general, goshuin is not given at temples of Jodo Shinshu sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism).

[Original Japanese]