View Full Version : Heraldry in Japan (mon, coats of arms, badges and ensigns armorial)

11th April 2002, 06:44
Good day everyone,

I hope some of the people out there in the cyber dojo might be able to help me out. I have very recently began researching coats of arms in the Western tradition. I learned that there is much more to them then the stands in the mall offering "Family Coat of Arms" makes known. In Western tradition the arms belong to one person and one person only, it is descended through the male heir (or female heir if no male heir is present) and anyone else of the same family has to apply for a new grant that is suitably differenced from the original owner's. Badges, however, are emblems that do not appear on shields and are given by the armiger to those close or loyal to him who do not bear arms themselves.

This raised the question in my mind; how do/did Japanese mon work and how is/was the system regulated? It seems that the mon functions as both the coat of arms proper and the badge in Western heraldry. That is to say, a lord may use one mon and those loyal to him use the same, undifferenced. Is this correct? Did one person have several different mon for different purpose? At www.Kamon.com they have several "Takeda" mon each slightly different. The next question I have is how are mon used today? Is there any regulating body such as the Lord Lyon of Scotland or South African Bureau of Heraldry, in Japan today that registers and protect mon? Are mon trade marked like any other image or icon to keep it in the family? Are there any written or unwritten rules about wearing mon? I would assume it would be very poor taste to wear say a kimono with Takeda mon, and haori with Tokugawa mon, and an inro with another mon etc. But does one have to be part of the family associated with the mon to use it? Are there any rules for designing new mon (or is the idea of new mon even a consideration)? Anyone out there that has any idea, any help you can offer would be great!

Joseph Svinth
11th April 2002, 06:55
Stephen Turnbull just released a book called "Samurai Heraldry." See http://freespace.virgin.net/stephen.turnbull/frameset_bookshop.html . Cost through Amazon.com is $13.56 plus P&H.

11th April 2002, 16:31
Hey Chris,

Look, buddy. I know you are just trying to find a way to justify you're often, nearly pathological, habit of frequenting the local malls wearing nothing but a kimono with your own personalized mon and a fake top-knot, but don't you think you might want to seek some professional help? I'm not sure if e-budo is the place to solve your obviously very deep emotional issues.

Look me up - I may be able to help with a few, well-placed boots to the head. :)

Yours in therapeutic concern,
Arman Partamian
Daito-ryu Study Group

11th April 2002, 17:20

Thank you for your help.