Log in

No account? Create an account
Recent Entries Friends Archive Profile Tags Kamon Café

nishi-honganji fuji

The fuji (wisteria) mon is one of the ten most famous Japanese kamon. The purple flowers of the wisteria vine bloom at the beginning of spring, and the related kamon represent beauty and elegance. The wisteria itself has a very long lifespan and an especially high rate of propagation, traits that the mon's users hoped to receive themselves. The fuji mon is directly tied to the Fujiwara clan, the most powerful and prosperous of all the Japanese noble families.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )


Named for its resemblance to a snake's eye, samurai used this mon in hopes of inspiring the same fear in their enemies as that of an actual snake. There are also stories that describe the design as a powerful type of talisman.
The janome mon is also sometimes referred to as the tsurumaki mon, as its shape is similar to that of an ancient, circular tool used for wrapping up and storing bow strings. Aside from its many connections to arms, the simplicity and strength of the design have contributed to its long history of use.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )


The tsuki (moon) mon and related kamon originate from the ancient Japanese worship of the moon. This practice is thought to have stemmed from the strong animist beliefs and culture of the time. As told in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the moon god Tsukuyomi -- sibling of Susanoo (god of the sea) and Amaterasu (goddess of the sun) -- ruled the world of the night and is regarded as one of the most important Shinto gods.
Ancient Japanese were so enchanted by the moon that each lunar phase had several different names. Its mysterious existence also spawned many legends and myths, such as the stories of Taketori and the Moon Rabbit.
Japanese also consider the moon a symbol of the "yin" aspect of the Chinese yin and yang philosophy. As such, even the characters of the moon god Tsukuyomi's name (月読) reflect the opposite of his sister Amaterasu's (天照). Similarly, it was at one point believed that the moon was the after world, and so it came to symbolize death. This was not considered a negative symbol, however, as it was the inevitable opposite or balance according to yin and yang.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )


A tomoe is a Japanese abstract shape (i.e. a swirl) that resembles a comma[1]. Even in modern Japan the tomoe mon is often seen carved or engraved onto the roof tiles of houses and shrines, as the symbol represents water and is believed to act as a protective charm against the spread of fire.
Ancient Japanese beads called magatama were also made in the shape of tomoe, and due to their heavy usage in and during religious ceremonies the tomoe mon became a symbol of the divine spirits. It is found at shrines belonging to many different Shinto denominations. Furthermore, because of its close association with shrines, it was most commonly adopted as a kamon by families with strong Shinto backgrounds, and those who use it are said to receive protection from the gods themselves.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )

itowa ni hitotsu uchiwa

Uchiwa -- round, bamboo fans -- have been keeping the people of Japan cool for centuries. The actual act of fanning is said to both summon and serve as a channel of communication with the gods, so uchiwa themselves are often used as a symbol of worship and displayed during Shinto festivals. In addition, special uchiwa were used by military generals to direct troops during battle, as it was thought that using uchiwa called upon god's authority and brought victory to the soldiers in the field.
The earliest known usage of the uchiwa mon was the emblem of the Kodama Party, the central and most powerful of the Seven Parties of Musashi, a band of samurai active in the Kanto Region from the start of the Heian period (AD 1180~). It is one of the oldest mon in existence.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )


The rindou (Gentian) mon most famously represents the kamon of the Minamoto clan, also known as the Genji clan.
When autumn arrives, the purple petals of the Gentiana's flower begin to curl downward and resemble a man with his head hanging forward, engrossed in deep thought. Due to this appearance, the plant was referred to in the Man'yōshū (a famous 8th century collection of poetry) as omoigusa (思い草), which literally translates to "pensive grass."
While many Heian era nobles were fond of clothing with Gentiana patterns or designs, at some point this developed into the well-known kamon used by families of the Minamoto clan.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )

maru ni agehachou

As a symbol of beauty and grace, the butterfly has long been incorporated into various designs, patterns and decorations. The chou (butterfly) mon traditionally represents the Taira Clan, who prospered during the Heian era (AD 700 ~ 1200). They are recognized as the first to use this mon, and nearly all of the modern families who claim it are descendants of the Taira clan.

maru ni kuginuki

In order to remove the L-shaped nails used in ancient Japanese construction, washers were put into place before the hammering of each nail. The kuginuki mon's design borrows from the shape of these washers.
Because of the simplicity of the design, the kuginuki mon could be easily recognized from long distances, which was especially useful in the battlefield. Furthermore, the pronunciation of the phrase "to remove a nail" in Japanese (kugi wo nuku) can also be interpreted as "to infiltrate nine castles", leaving a very powerful impression on many samurai families who would later adopt this kamon as their own.
Alternatives/ExamplesCollapse )