The first study of Japanese heraldry appears in 1877 in the journal Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. Thomas McClatchie examines some historical points about kamon, but also discusses some aspects of a modern type of heraldry that was emerging in Japan by then and was closer to what we know in the west. At the end of his article, McClatchie presents the design of eighty-four mon along with some flags ans standards. After McClatchie, the topic of Japanese heraldry will start to become trendy, and at the turn of the century, many people will start to publish articles and books on the subject.
(McClatchie, Thomas R. H., “Japanese Heraldry”, in Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, V-1, 1877, p. 1-24)
In 1884, George Ashdown Audsley publishes the second volume of his Ornamental Arts of Japan, in which he devotes the last chapter to heraldry. The contents relies heavily on McClatchie, but Audsley proposes a larger number of illustrations. Interestingly, Audsley shows each kamon associated with a flag, a system of depiction that would flourish during the Meiji Era, but that has been abandoned since.
(Audsley George Ashdown, The Ornamental Arts of Japan. Volume 2, London, Sampson Low. Martson, Searle & Rivington, 1884)
In Ancien Japon, published in 1888, Georges Appert, a professor at Tokyo University, compiles a real database on things Japanese: lists of emperors, eras, historical facts, writing systems, a Japanese/French dictionary, lists of daimyō and their wages, their fortresses, etc. Appert also records 307 kamon and the clans or families associated to them. It is by then the most exhaustive foreign catalogue on Japanese heraldry.
(Appert Georges, Ancien Japon, Tokyo, Imprimerie Kokubunsha, 1888)