What is Japanese Kamon

March 18, 2018

What is Japanese Kamon

The Japanese term "kamon" describes an emblem that identifies the origin of a person and their family or bloodline. Other terms are for example "Mondokoro" or simply "Mon". It is said that there are about 20,000 different emblems throughout Japan, each of which represents a particular family or clan.

Kamon are firmly anchored in Japanese culture and are still in active use today. It was created to make a person's surname clearly identifiable, with Kamons later being used by samurai and aristocrats in particular. From then on kamons spread rapidly and were used on graves, furniture, ships and of course clothes, armour and weapons. However, it was not welcomed to use the emblem of another family, which often led to various conflicts. Especially the misuse of higher-class emblems, such as the Daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) or the shoguns (generals), led to conflicts in many cases, resulting in an unwritten rule that prohibited the use of already existing emblems of higher-class families or clans.


Kamon was especially popular with the samurais, which had to do with the fact that Kamons were used on flags, armour and swords and thus contributed to the recognition value of the clan, which in turn brought honour, respect and reputation when victorious in battle. Of course, these emblems were also extremely helpful in distinguishing friend and foe in the event of combat.


 

 

In time Kamons established themselves in Japanese society and were used as a symbol of the social status of a family, for instance.


Kamons are still in use today, with almost every Japanese having a family emblem that can be looked up in various temple and shrine archives.

Kamons are also widely used in the Japanese street scene today and are often integrated into the logos of sushi restaurants and other shops. Sake, tofu and all sorts of food packaging is also often decorated with kamons.

Kamons can also be observed on kimonos, whereby a multitude of kamons usually represent a more formal kimono.

Kamons have been an integral part of Japanese culture since the Heian period (794-1185) and are still widely used today, which means that the prestigious emblems are extremely popular and now enjoy great popularity in a wide variety of cultures all over the world.

 

They are usually in the form of stylized drawings inside a geometric form.

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