What is Goshuin (”signature of the shrine or temple”) with NFTs like?

5 min readMar 3, 2023

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In recent years, temples in Japan have been in danger of going out of business.

During the Edo period (1603–1868), temples were in charge of all memorial services for the dead and ancestors of the families belonging to the temple (Danka system), but this system has begun to collapse at temples in rural areas due in part to Japan’s population decline and the centralization of the population in a few areas.

The shūmon ninbetsu aratamechō, or danka register, of a village called Kumagawa near Fussa, Tokyo. (Source of photo)

Furthermore, due to the global pandemic of the coronavirus, travel in Japan has been restricted, Hatsumode (the Japanese tradition of visiting a shrine or temple in the new year) and festivals have been canceled, and the number of people visiting shrines and temples has dramatically decreased. Many temples have been unable to keep pace with such recent changes in the social structure. There is a severe decline in the number of people visiting temples and shrines and keeping their religious practices.

Temples are also places of cultural inheritance that strongly represent their local community. Their history has been passed down to the younger generations for at least 100 years and, in some areas, for over 1,000 years. Maintaining shrines and temples, symbols of local culture, is nothing less than preserving the image of “Japan” and, on the other hand, is an essential “asset” that can be appealed to other countries.

To preserve the symbols of good old Japan, we need to foster a new “En (means network)” of people and temples in a modern context, which is currently being lost. We think NFTs are the solution to this. NFTs are non-fungible tokens and unique digital data on the blockchain that cannot be forged or tampered with. NFTs can be resold among individuals, and some marketplaces reward the creators of the NFTs for repeated resales.

In other words, by making the most of NFTs, users who do not visit the site can contribute to preserving Japan’s cultural properties. This idea led us to utilize “Goshuin (Japan’s red-ink stamp).”

Simply put, Goshuin is a “signature of the shrine or temple.” The contrast between vermilion and black ink, the powerful brush strokes, and the design of the stamps are all attractive and artistic. Even at the same temple or shrine, every Goshuin has a different design depending on the person who designs it. The shading of the stamp varies depending on how strongly or weakly it is stamped. In other words, no two stamps are the same. Goshuin has the symbolic aspect of Japanese culture, the artistic aspect, and the one-of-a-kind nature. The special feeling they create is not only attractive, but you may have already noticed that they have a high affinity with NFTs.

Even a growing number of young women are addicted to collecting Goshuins, called “Goshuin girls.”

The taste of Goshuin varies widely, from stylish ones with only letters to playful ones with pictures of animals, making them fun to collect.

By Keisuke Mutoh from Kyoto, Japan — 大蓮寺, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23309849
Photo source: https://prtimes.jp/main/html/rd/p/000000003.000112799.html

We want to save shrines and temples, which have been linked to people by En (network), from a crisis by using modern technology. And PREMA makes it possible.

NFT’s case studies on Japanese culture, Goshuin, charms, shrines, and temples have caught people’s attention.

Take-Shrine in Mie Prefecture: Hana-Chozu at Take Shrine

Photo source: https://prtimes.jp/main/html/rd/p/000000013.000057872.html
Photo source: https://prtimes.jp/main/html/rd/p/000000013.000057872.html

Jorakuji Temple: (https://opensea.io/Jorakuji_Goshuin)

Furthermore, Japanese shrines and temples offer not only Goshuin but also “Omamori” (charms) and “O-fuda.” These are charms handed down from the Jomon period to the present to ward off evil spirits and protect holders against epidemics. Usually, Omamori and O-fuda are returned to the shrine or temple after one year and “burned” as a religious practice.

If we apply this to NFTs, when we buy a Goshuin NFT and show it at a shrine or temple, we will receive a charm NFT in return. After a certain period, the charm NFT will be “burned” and reborn as a new charm. In crypto, burning is recognized as a “means of preserving value in cryptocurrency” because it keeps the market supply of tokens at an appropriate level, increasing the attractiveness of crypto assets. Goshuin NFTs can be reborn as charm NFTs.

In Japan, there are also different types of shrines and temples, such as “Hachiman,” “Inari,” “Tenjin,” and “Tenmangu,” so it is possible to create different utilities depending on the characteristic of each shrine and temple, for example, giving a fox (Inari) items to those who collect all Inari series of NFTs, or giving a fountain pen to those who collect all Tenjin series of NFTs.

Those who contribute more to shrines and temples based on the number of Goshuin NFTs they own, the length of time they have held the Goshuin NFTs, or the number of charm NFTs issued for them, could be offered a wide range of utilities such as invitations to visit shrines and temples for Gokaicho* in advance, which is a rare experience, or the right to visit places normally inaccessible to the general public.
*The public exhibition of unique objects from temples, usually relics or statuary, that are typically not on display

No two Goshuins are the same, and each one has a strong artistic quality. Even if the designs look alike at first glance, there is an incentive for people to collect Goshuins, which is similar to the feeling of collecting NFTs of favorite designers.

When our Goshuin NFTs are launched, PREMA’s concept of “connecting the real and virtual” is realized through temples and shrines. Don’t forget to get your virtual Goshuin Cho as a gateway to enjoying real and virtual Japanese culture!

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