I researched the terms on jisho.org and found two words, 印鑑 and 判子, used to mean 'seal'. I want to clarify my understanding because I am assuming that an 印鑑 is used to make the 判子. What is the name of the device used to imprint the seal and what is the impression called?


Both 判子 and 印鑑 almost always refer to devices to make an impression. They are typically made of wood, ivory, metal, etc. English seal refers to both such seal-making devices and the impressions made by such devices. In Japanese, the most common word to refer to the impression made by such a device is 印影.

Strictly speaking, however, 印鑑 can refer to 印影 (impression) especially in the legal language. The original meaning of the kanji 鑑 is something like "evidence" or "identity". So at least technically speaking, one might say a 判子 can make a 印鑑. But an 印鑑 never makes a 判子.

判子 and 印鑑 are usually interchangeable, but 印鑑 only refers to ones used to seriously authenticate yourself. 判子 is a more casual term and it can also refer to rubber stamps or stamps like these.

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