Baptiste Tavernier

grave with kamon

Nowadays, many Japanese people, or people from Japanese descent, have lost track of their family insignia. When they try to find their kamon, they generally have only one clue left: their family name. So how can someone know his family emblem? The surest way to find out is to look for the family chōchin and the Family tombstone. To know more about this, follow THIS LINK.Read More →


Several people have asked me how kamon were designed and drawn in the past. Well the answer is with ink, rulers, compasses and a bit of free hand drawing. Since most kamon are based on circles and symmetries, the ability to divide a circle in 2, 3, 4, 5 or more equal parts is very important. To give a quick idea of kamon geometrical complexity, I attached with this post some pages from a 19th century Bukan (mon encyclopedia) that give some insight in the way mon were created. Translating the text would be too difficult, but illustrations are worth a 1000 words, so IRead More →

Konoe Botan

Kamon Database – Botan Figure: Peony. 牡丹 The peony was brought to Japan from China around the 9th century. In China it was called the “king of flowers” and thus Botan mon became one of the most authoritative insignias after the Kiku, the Kiri and the Aoi. The first house to use a peony as kamon was the Konoe at the beginning of the 13th century. For more information about Botan, follow this link.Read More →

Maru ni Chigiri

Kamon Database – Chigiri Figure: wood joinery. 榺 The chigiri  is a Japanese dovetail wood joinery. As an insignia, the Chigiri mon is rather ancient. The Ogasawara clan was using the chigiri as one of their emblems. For more information about Chigiri, follow this link.Read More →

Futamata Daikon no Maru

Kamon Database – Daikon Figure: raphanus sativus (white radish). 大根 The Daikon mon is a rare insignia. It was seen in the past as an auspicious symbol. The Honjō and the Tomita clans used to bear the white radish emblem. For more information about Daikon, follow this link.Read More →

Maru ni Kumo

Kamon Database – Kumo Figure: cloud. 雲 The cloud is a rather rare insignia, often used by priests or as a sacred ground’s emblem. Some famous temples in Kyoto, like the Tōji Temple, use the Kumo mon. For more information about Kumo, follow this link.Read More →

Hidari Kake Uma

Kamon Database – Uma Figure: horse. 馬 The Sōma clan is famous for using a horse insignia. The clan eventually split in two, one branch residing in what is nowadays Chiba prefecture, and the other branch moving up to the Fukushima area. For more information about Uma, follow this link.Read More →

Jiku-chigai Mitsu Ichō

Kamon Database – Ichō Figure: Ginkgo biloba. 銀杏 The Ichō mon is a rather common emblem that comes in many variations. It is believed that the Tokugawa clan used to bear a ichō mon before definitely adopting the Aoi insignia. The noble House of Asukai used  as their insignia a combination of ginkgo leaves and cherry blossom. For more information about Ichō, follow this link.Read More →

Japanese Heraldry

Japanese heraldry uses several strategies to generate new kamon variations. Apart from enclosures and blenders, there are numerous fixed patterns that are recurrently applied to emblems: the X or “crossing” pattern, the “embracing” pattern, the “splitting” pattern, the “inverting” pattern… Those are but a few examples of recurrent patterns that compose Japanese heraldry. Below is a (non exhaustive) glossary of kamon design patterns: Agari ascending Atsume gathering Chigai crossing Chūkage emptied Chū-wa semi thick circle Daki embracing Eda-maru branch circle Fusen butterfly-shaped Futae double-layered Gyōyō saddle ornament shaped Hoso-wa thin circle Irechigai upside down Ito-wa thread circle Janome snake eye Kage inverted Kana-wa metal ring KashiraRead More →