Finding and collecting Japanese Railway station stamps

From Pokemon to Neko Atsume to shuinchou temple books, Japanese people love collecting things. If you've ever taken a ride on the glorious shinkansen bullet trains or ridden one of their extremely clean and punctual urban lines, then you know there's also a national obsession with great trains.

The Eki stamp ("station stamp") is where those two obsessions meet. Most Japan Railways stations (including urban metro ones like the Yamanote line) have a unique stamp reflecting that station's history. Kids and train nerds (called "Tetchan") buy cute little books to collect the stamps of all the stations they've been to. The USA has a similar program with the national parks.

One of my favorite stamps…
All train-nerdiness aside, an Eki stamp book makes a great souvenir: it's flat, small, cheap, and light... and shouldn't take but a few moments to do when you're out and about. Special Eki stamp books are usually available at bookstores and stationery stores. Kinokuniya in Shinjuku, for example, has them in their travel section. Because not everyone knows what an Eki stamp is, I found that having a photo of one on your iPhone when asking bookstore staff helps a lot. 

Eki stamp book

Once you have your book, start stamping! Most smaller stations have a little kiosk sitting outside the fare gates with the stamp and an ink pad. If you don't see one, it may be at the staffed fare gate (called a kaisatsu 改札) window. I usually wait until they aren't super busy, then pop in with my stamp book in hand and ask where the Eki stamp is. With the book as a prop, just asking "Eki stamp?" is more than enough to get the point across. The agent will either point you in the direction of it, or hand it to you from behind the desk.

A few stamping tips

  • There are often blank pieces of paper near the stamp to do a test – use them! Sometimes the stamp will be crusty or uneven and it's good to make a few test runs so the one in your book looks nice.
  • Having a thin sheet of rubbery plastic behind the sheet you're stamping can help improve the image even when the stamp is worn down to nubs (pic below).
  • I usually keep a few sheets of blank paper in my book so a fresh, wet stamp doesn't leave an imprint on the facing page when you close it
  • Remember to close the lid on the ink pad when you're done!
  • Record the date and station name in the book – especially if you don't read Japanese. Alternatively, just snap a photo of your stamp with the station sign in the background.
  • If you want a glimpse into the OCD levels this hobby can reach, check out this link in a "Tips for stamping" guide.

There's usually a dot or the symbol to indicate the top of the stamp

Rubber stamping mat from the Taipei main station gift shop

Big stations

For the bigger stations, finding the stamp can be a huge challenge. While most people who enjoy collecting eki stamps probably like roaming the halls of a big train station, sometimes you do end up short on time and/or patience. For those times, here's a few "cheat codes" for finding a few of the more challenging stamps. 


Location of Shinjuku's Eki Stamp. (新宿駅スタンプの場所)

The stamp is inside a JR ticket office, near the Central East Exit. The "you are here" in this map shows where the office is. Enter the office and go all the way to the right to find it. 

🗺 Here's the Google Maps Street View "See Inside" link.

Shinjuku's Eki Stamp is near the You Are Here in this map (click to enlarge)
Go inside this office and turn right
Google Street View "See Inside" link!


Location of Tokyo Station's Eki stamp (新宿駅スタンプの場所)

Tokyo Station's stamp is at the Marunouchi South Exit, inside the rotunda. When I visited, it was next to a red post box.

🗺 Here's the Google Maps Street View "See Inside" link. 

Tokyo Station's Eki Stamp

Marunouchi South Gate

Tokyo Station's is inside the rotunda


Location of Ikebukuro station's Eki stamp (池袋駅スタンプの場所)

Ikebukuro is another large station with a hard-to-find stamp. It's near the South Gate, conveniently next to a big station map.

🗺 Link to Google Maps Street View "See Inside"  

Look at the red "you are here" dot on the map next to the stamp
🗺 Link to Google Street View "See Inside"


Location of Kyoto Station's Eki stamp (京都駅スタンプの場所)

Kyoto's was the first Eki stamp I saw inside the fare gates. It's just inside the East Underground Gate. They have a cool stamping machine that made a clear, perfectly-inked stamps.

🗺 Link to Google Maps Street View "See Inside" 

Stamping machine 
Just beyond these gates... you can see the kiosk to the right of the ticket machines

🗺 Link to Google Maps Street View "See Inside" 


Location of Shin Osaka Station's Eki stamp (新大阪駅スタンプの場所)

Shin-Osaka's is located inside the Midori no Madoguchi ticket office near the East Ticket Gate.
🗺 Link to Google Maps 

Shin-Osaka has a cool stamping machine

Right inside this door


UPDATE: on a recent visit to Taipei, I found out that the Taiwanese do this too!


Location of Taipei 101 MRT station's Eki Stamp (台北101駅スタンプの場所)

Follow the signs from the platform toward Taipei 101. The staffed booth has a stamp just outside the faregates. The Taiwan Railway shop inside Taipei's main station sells stamp books. 
On the left side of this photo

Right in front of the staffed window

Stamp books from the railway shop

Other links


  1. Thank you so much for your post! Saved us a lot of time in Japan, our stamp book thanks you too! ;)


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