Special Japanese Stamps

The Japan Post has been issuing many beautifully designed special Japanese stamps series. One of the more notable series among the special issue Japan stamps is the 'World Heritage' series, the 'Harmony with Nature' series, and the 'Seasonal Flowers' series.

Part of the commemorative Japan stamps category, special Japanese stamps convince with their attention to details and with their vibrant colors, reminiscent of actual photographic images.

Special Japanese Stamps - Zodiac Letters

Japanese zodiac letters calligraphy are the theme of this special issue Japan stamps sheet. The sheet shows twelve different ways of writing the character for the snake sign.

Though Japan, in the 19th century, moved rapidly towards Westernization, the lunar calendar continues to influence Japanese daily life. Having learned astrology from the Chinese, the earliest extant Japanese horoscope dates back to 1112 A.D.

The system of the twelve-year cycle of the animal signs was built from the observations of the orbit of Jupiter around the sun. The astronomers divided the celestial circle into twelve sections and rounded it up to 12 years. The 60 year cycle is made of two distinct cycles. The first is the cycle of ten heavenly stems. The second is the cycle of the twelve zodiac animal signs. They are in order as follows: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.

Price: US$ 23.90

The special Japanese stamps shown on the below sheet, illustrate twelve different styles of calligraphy that stand for the snake zodiac.

They are from top to bottom:

  1. Gyosho Style: also known as running style, it was the last of the five major calligraphy styles to develop. It was a natural result of everyday handwriting. It is also known as running style and is semi-cursive. It is understood as a bridge between rectangular styles and draft script.
  2. Reisho Style: also known as official clerical script, it was a prevailing style during the Han period.
  3. Sosho Style: known as the cursive script, it is said to have originated during the Han dynasty and was aimed at simplifying strokes to speed up writing.
  4. Reisho Style: same as point 2.
  5. Kana Style; based on hiragana script which can only be found in Japan.
  6. Gyosho Style: same as point 1.
  7. Shincho Style: Qing dynasty writing style
  8. Kaisho Style: one of the fourcore scripts of Chinese calligraphy. Legend says it was created during the Cao Wei dynasty aimed at perfecting one's brush technique.
  9. Shoten Style: small seal script
  10. Kinbun Style: great seal script, it's literal translation means 'text on metal.'

The bottom left hand side of the Japan stamps sheet shows the snake wrapped around a Japanese fukubukuro lucky bag.

Issue date for these special issue Japan stamps is November 21, 2012.

Special Japanese Stamps - Japanese Traditional Craft Series No. 1

Japanese traditional craft are the focus of this new special issue Japan stamps sheet.

The many and varied traditional handicrafts of Japan are officially recognized and protected. Some enjoy status as ameibutsu or regional specialty.

Some of the most famous Japanese crafts and products are shown on these commemorative Japanese stamps.

The above special Japanese stamps show the following images (left to right column):

  1. Hakata Ningyo or Doll, Fukuoka Prefecture. Traditional Japanese clay dolls originally from Fukuoka city. They originated in the 17th century and were used as gifts to Buddhist temples. Hakata dolls became famous when American soldiers took them back to the US as souvenirs during the occupation of Japan following WWII.
  2. Kyosensu or Folding Fans, Kyoto Prefecture. The sensu is a portable fold-away fan that originated in the 7th century in Japan, in particular in Kyoto. The fans became popular at the imperial court and among the nobility
  3. Ogatsu-Suzuri, Miyagi Prefecture. Traditional Japanese ink-stone dating back 600 years ago. It is a classical artifact that was designated as a traditional craft of Japan in 1985. The Ogatsu stone is used to manufacture the final ink-stone. The stone is black with glossy and smooth grains and has a low water absorption rate.
  4. Kaga Yuzen, Ishikawa Prefecture. Refers to the traditional technique of dying silk fabrics for kimonos. The technique was established at the beginning of the 18th century. Kaga Yuzen is characterized by designs of vivid color tones and gradation dying.
  5. Kijoka Bashofu, Okinawa Prefecture. Traditional weaving technique fro Okinawa Prefecture. Introduced to Okinawa during the 13th century, it uses light weight fabric from a type of banana tree. Once produced and worn almost everywhere in Okinawa, it succumbed to western clothing and almost disappeared in the 1940s.
  6. Kutaniyaki, Ishikawa Prefecture. Kutani is a style of Japanese porcelain from the village of Kutani. It is known for multiple colors such as greens, blues, purples, and reds, as well as, bold designs covering most of the surface of each piece. The Kutaniyaki style dates back to the 17th century.
  7. Obori Somayaki Pottery, Fukushima Prefecture. Soma pottery is characterized by the blue-green crackling that covers the surface. An apple ash and crackle is used to achieve this effect. Soma pottery was established in 1690 in Fukushima. It enjoyed the protection of the Soma lords and grew to over 100 kilns.
  8. Nanbu Tekki, Iwate Prefecture. Traditional ironware produced in the areas of Moriokaand Mizusawa City. Production of Nanbu ironware is thought to have begun in Morioka at the end of the 17th century. Today, tea pots and kettles are still made by hand using traditional techniques.
  9. Tsugaru-nuri, Aomori Prefecture. Tsugaru-nuri is the name given to the kind of lacquerware produced in and around the city of Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture. It was first produced at the end of the 17century and features a variety of designs characterized by detailed patterns and glossy sheen.
  10. Tsuboya-yaki, Okinawa Prefecture. Tsuboya pottery from Naha City, Okinawa. Tsuboya pottery, named after the Tsuboya district in Naha, dates back 300 years and comes in either glazed or unglazed form. It includes large items such as storage jars for water, bean paste, or Okinawan awamori liquor.

Release date for these special Japanese stamps is October 25, 2012.

Price: US$ 15.70

Special Japanese Stamps - World Heritage Series Vol.6

The latest sheet in the World Heritage special Japanese stamps series takes us to Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture. Hiraizumi historic monuments and sites is a group of five sites from the late 11th and 12th century. It was inscribed in the UNESCO list in 2011.

In the past, under the rule of the Fujiwara Clan, Hiraizumi served as an important political, military, commercial, and cultural center during the Heian period. At that time, a variety of temples and gardens were built based on the cosmology of Pure Land Buddhism.

The fives sites inscribed in the UNESCO list and which are pictured on the commemorative Japan stamps sheet to the left are:

  1. Chuson-ji Temple: Said to have been founded by Ennon in 850, a pagoda and the Great Hall 'Daichoju-in' were added by a Fujiwara Clan member in the 12th century. In 1337, fires consumed many temples and buildings. The stamp shows the Konjikido or Hall of Gold.
  2. Chuson-ji Temple's Kondo-keman, a Muromachi Period Buddhist work of Art. It is also known as gilded floral wreath ornament.
  3. Chuson-ji Kyozo, Sutra Repository Hall
  4. Motsu-ji Heinan-style Floating Poetry Festival
  5. Double-Stamp: Motsu-ji Jdod-style Pure Land Garden, with stone-paved stream, pond, pebble beach, peninsula, island, and ornamental stone.
  6. Double Stamp: Kanjizaio-in, former temple and garden, originally built adjacent to Motsu-ji, it was destroyed by fire in 1573.
  7. Muryoko-in, former Temple site. Modeled on Byodo-in near Kyoto, it features a monumental statue of Amida and a paradise garden. Today, only the garden grounds remain.
  8. Chuson-ji Temple Lotus, Nelumbo Nucifer

The background shows the concrete outer hall in which the golden Konjikido at Chuson-ji is contained in.

These special issue Japan stamps were issued on June 29, 2012.

Price: US$ 15.70 (incl. shipping)

Special Japanese Stamps - World Heritage Series Vol.5

Japan accepted the UNESCO World Heritage Convention on June 30 1992. As of June this year 2012, sixteen properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. Among these, there are twelve cultural sites and four natural sites.

A further twelve sites have been submitted for inscription and are currently on the tentative list.

Volume 5 of the 'World Heritage' special Japanese stamps cover the Ogasawara Islands. Also known as the Bonin Island Archipelago, they are a collection of over 30 subtropical and tropical islands located approx. 1000km south of Tokyo. Administratively, they are part of Tokyo Prefecture.

The Ogasawara Islands were added to UNESCO's lost of World Natural Heritage sites in July 2011.

Animals and plants are specific to the islands since they have undergone unique evolutionary processes.

The islands are often dubbed the 'Galapagos of the Orient' because they have never been connected with a continent.

This special issue Japan stamps sheet is exquisitely designed and pictures the following vibrant wildlife and flora and fauna images:

  1. Maigrot bird, Apalopteron Familiare
  2. Tree peony, Melastoma Tetramerum
  3. Heart shaped Rock face on Chichi-jima Island
  4. Ogasawara Lymnaeidae, Boninosuccinea
  5. Stone arch Ogi Ike and lagoon on Minami-jima island
  6. Semifossil of Mandarina Luhuana
  7. Hime Tsubaki or Japanese Camellia Flower
  8. Chichi-jima Island's forest
  9. South Equator dolphins, Tursiups Aduncus
  10. Screw pine tree, Pandanus Boninensis

At the top of this special Japanese stamps sheet, a humpback whale.

These Japan commemorative stamps were issued on June 20, 2012.

Price: US$ 15.70 (incl. shipping)

Special Japanese Stamps - Harmony With Nature Series No.2

One of the characteristics of Japanese culture is often said to be the close and harmonious relationship with nature. The Japanese appreciation of nature has been reflected in the Japan Post 'Harmony with Nature Series.'

The second volume of the nature commemorative Japan stamps cover wildlife and flowers that are prevalent throughout Japan.

The special issue Japan stamps on the left depict the following wildlife and flowers:

  1. Tokyo Shrewmouse, a small Japanese field mouse
  2. Golden Eagle
  3. Safflower Peony
  4. Killifish
  5. Horseshoe Crab

These special Japanese stamps were issued on August 23, 2012.

Price: US$ 14.00 (incl. shipping)

Special Japanese Stamps - Seasonal Flowers Series No.3

The Japanese make a lot of the fact that the country has four distinct seasons, almost as if it was something unique to their country. The fact that the Japanese archipelago covers several climatic zones and is caught between the Asia and the Pacific does cause dramatic swings in the weather, as well as, seasonal traits that only Japan offer.

From a Japanese point-of-view, the four seasons are full of nature's expressions and have, since ancient times, influenced the people's feelings through the various seasonal flowers.

For example, spring in Japan is often represented by the cherry blossom flower.

With early summer comes the Japanese Azalea. Red and white colored Azaleas are particularly popular.

In Summer and with the onset of the rainy season, the Hydrangeas come to life. They are said to let the people enjoy the rain a bit more.

The Japanese stamps shown on the left-hand side stamp sheet focus on the summer season and are:

  1. Japanese Wisteria Floribunda
  2. Lily of the Valley - Convallaria Keiskei
  3. Hydrangea
  4. Sunflower - Helianthus Annuus
  5. Japanese Morning Glory - Ipomoea Nil

These commemorative Japanese stamps were issued on June 7, 2012.

Currently OUT OF STOCK

Special Japanese Stamps - Seasonal Flowers Series No.2

Volume 2 of the flower series special Japanese stamps focuses on spring time.

Flowers shown on the volume 2 commemorative Japan stamps are:

  1. Violet or Heartsease
  2. Japanese Rose
  3. Benthamidia Florida or Dogwood
  4. Grape Hyacinth
  5. Poppy

These special issue Japan stamps were issued on March 1, 2012.

Currently OUT OF STOCK

Special Japanese Stamps - 'Fumi no Hi' (2012 Letter Writing Day)

In Japan, July 23 is known as 'fumi no hi,' the day of letters. The old name of the month of July was actually 'fumi tsuki' which means 'letter month.'

The old Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (now Japan Post Holdings) called this day into life in 1979. Since then, a special commemorative Japan stamps sheet has been issued every single year.

The latest fumi no hi Japanese stamps are entitled 'Hyakunin Isshu.' The different stamp sheets were issued on the same day for July 23, 2012; one denominated at 50 Yen and one at 80 Yen per stamp.

The commemorative Japan stamps sheet below additionally includes image samples of waka love poems (lower and upper poems) for each of the featured notable poets.

Both stamp sheets are exquisitely exotic in design and a perfect addition to any Japanese stamp collection.

Hyakunin Isshue is a traditional anthology style of compiling Japanese waka poetry. Each contributor writes one poem for the anthology.

Literally, Hyakunin Isshu translates to 'one hundred people, one poem (each).'

The following historic waka poets are pictured on the left-hand Japan stamps:

  1. Inpumon-in-no-taifu, daughter of Fujiwara no Nobunari and attendant to princess Ryoshi Inpu Monin, the daughter of emperor GoShirakawa. Inpumonin has 63 waka poems in imperial collections.
  2. Fujiwara no Toshiyuki Ason, was a middle Heian period (10th century) waka poet and Japanese nobleman. He is designated as a member of the 36 poetry immortals.
  3. Shune Hoshi, another waka poet and former priest at the famous Todai-ji Temple in Kyoto. He later became known as Shune Hoshi or Shune the Priest.
  4. Kokamon in no Beto, end of Heinan Period waka poet.
  5. Sone no Yoshitada, probably born around 930 and died in early years of the 11th century. He was active as a poet and spent his career in provincial service. In his lifetime he was regarded as an inferior poet.

These special Japanese stamps were issued on July 23, 2012.

Price - 50 Yen Sheet: US$ 13.40 (incl. shipping)

Price - 80 Yen Sheet: US$ 16.40 (incl. shipping)

Special Japanese Stamps - Ukiyoe Series Vol.1

In 2012, the Japan post service will for the first time publish an 'ukiyo-e' stamp series. The special issue volume 1 stamp sheet will be released in August.

For those Japanese stamp collectors that are unfamiliar with the term ukiyo-e, the latter describes a Japanese woodblock print and painting genre from the time between the 17th and 20th centuries.

Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) literally means 'pictures of the floating world,' a term used to refer to the fleeting world of beauty and entertainment as associated with Japanese kabuki, geisha, and courtesans.

The ukiyo-e art form became popular during the Edo-period in the second half of the 17th century.

Ukiyo-e wood prints were affordable to everyone because they could be mass-produced. They were meant for the regular townsmen who were not wealthy enough to afford an original painting.

The original subject of ukiyo-e was city-life, in particular scenes from the entertainment districts, such as those depicting courtesans, sumo wrestlers, and actors. Later on landscapes became popular.

The individual stamps on this commemorative Japan stamps sheet show images from the Edo-period (roughly 17th-19th century). They focus on prints of Japan's notable sites and beautiful women of Edo (former name for Tokyo) by famous artist Utagawa Hiroshige.

These special Japanese stamps were released on August 1, 2012.

It applies a 6 color offset printing method.

Price: US$ 16.40 (incl. shipping)

Return from Special Japanese Stamps page to Commemorative Japanese Stamps page

Return from Special Japanese Stamps page to Japanese Stamps homepage