I went to the name stamp (hanko) store today to get a new one. They're what you use in lieu of signatures everywhere...to sign in at work, to withdraw money from the bank, signing for packages, etc. Although usually I just pretend I don't have one for my packages because it's so much faster to take their pen and sign rather than digging around in my bag for my hanko.
I got a cute little blue one with bunnies on the side to replace the boring wooden one I have now. It cost $40. When I was paying for it, they had the really expensive ones under the counter. These were set apart from the other expensive ($300) ones that were sitting out on the counter, obviously not exorbitantly priced for many people as they weren't under glass. The ones under the counter cost a few thousand dollars, and I soon saw why when I looked closely at them. They were made out of ivory! One of the sets had two ivory hankos inside plus a completely ivory carrying case. It was $5,000. I was partly surprised at them, because Japan is always trying to be so ecological, and partly not at all, considering their feelings on things like whaling. They really pick and choose their battles.
I found another site that sells ivory hankos. They even have a diagram of the trunk: http://www.hankodonya.com/html/ippan.htm
Doing a quick internet search, I found that it's illegal to import, but not to sell, ivory in Japan. What a huge loophole.
Anyways, I found some awesome hankos online today.
Here's one that has your name inside of an animal sillouette.
Here's one that puts your pet's face on your hanko.
And this one was my favorite. It puts your name in front of a background of flowers.
I don't have any idea how legal these are to use at the bank and such, but they sure are awesome.
I pick up my new hanko on Thursday. I also ordered a self inking one that has a big "K" underneath a shooting star I'm going to use when checking homework. Yay!