Kamon, or family crests, have been used since ancient times to indicate lineage and social status. Originally, in order to distinguish oneself from other people of the same clan, that person would create his own trade name using the name of his land, etc. which became his last name later on. As of this year, it is said that approximately 20,000 kamon exist. Did you know that each and every kamon has its own meaning?

As a new endeavor for D-BROS, we are developing traditional craft products focusing on kamon which is a unique form of Japanese culture at the D-BROS GINZA SIX store. Along with conveying the beauty of kamon which can also be considered as the origin of Japanese graphic design, we thought that it might also be good to share its meanings.

Today, we’d like to share a few of the auspicious kamon which we have chosen for the designs of our furoshiki wrapping cloths.

furoshiki_oritsuru

降り光琳鶴の丸 kudari korin tsuru no maru
Descending Round Korin Crane

“Cranes live for a thousand years, turtles live for ten thousand years.” As this Japanese saying implies, the crane has been regarded as a symbol of longevity since ancient times.

furoshiki_rinoji

丸に利の字 maru ni ri no ji
The Character Ri in a Circle

The character ri in a circle crest has connotations of “victory in battle,” “sharpness of a weapon,” and “an increase in profits” because these phrases in Japanese contain the character ri, leading to the use of ri in crests.

furoshiki_noshi

立束ね熨斗 tachi tabane noshi
Upright Bundle of Noshi

Noshi also means “extend” or “prolong,” and implies longevity. This motif was incorporated in kamon with the hope that an auspicious event continues for a long time.

furoshiki_matsu

三ツ追松葉丸 mitsu oi matsuba maru
Circle of Three Pine Needles Chasing Each Other

Throughout all four seasons, the needles of a pine tree remain a vivid green. Even during the winter, none of its needles fall, and the tree never has an air of wintry desolation about it. For this reason, the pine tree has long been a symbol of longevity and auspiciousness, and thus used in kamon.

furoshiki_daikon

違ひ大根 chigai daikon
Intersecting Radishes

These two intersecting radishes express the harmony between husband and wife. This is also the divine crest of the Buddhist god Shodensama, or Ganesh in the Hindu pantheon. Shodensama is said to be the protector of Buddhism, and if you pray to this god, it is said that married couples will receive divine protection, and will have eternal harmony within their families.

furoshiki_kashiwa

中川家抱柏 nakagawake daki kashiwa
House of Nakagawa’s Pair of Japanese Emperor Oak Leaves

When new leaves sprout from a Japanese emperor oak tree, they replace the old leaves which then fall to the ground, ensuring that the tree is never bare. From these circumstances, this kamon contains the hope that a family will always have descendants, and that the clan will continue forever.

furoshiki_tsuno

三ツ又違ひ角 mitsu mata chigai tsuno
Intersecting Three-Pronged Antlers

In China, it was believed that the deer is a divine beast of longevity and the incarnation of a god; and it was thought that its antlers were a miraculous drug for longevity. This belief also spread in Japan, and from olden times, and it has been said that the deer is a god’s messenger.

furoshiki_basho

破れ芭蕉 yabure basyo
Torn Plantain

The plantain is a banana-like plant that came from China. A plantain leaf measures about 2 meters, and it is easily torn when blown by the wind. From this characteristic, the implication of “attacking the opponent as strongly as if it were a plantain leaf to be torn” has been attributed to the plantain leaf. Thus, it is considered auspicious in the militaristic sense, and was therefore used in kamon. Because of its auspicious “torn” attribute, it is characteristic of this kamon to depict the leaves as being torn in places.


What did you think of these kamon?

While they are all lumped together as kamon, they have many different shapes and meanings. When we think that our ancestors who made these kamon may have had these thoughts, don’t you want to know more about your own family’s kamon?

The explanations for the kamon that we’ve shared here are all included in our “Kamon Book” which is available at GINZA SIX and our online store. We have an actual sample of the book at our GINZA SIX store, so please approach a staff member if you would like to see it.

kamon_book_2

▼D-BROS at GINZA SIX products which won the ADC Member Award may be purchased at the D-BROS ONLINE STORE.
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▼Back issues about D-BROS at GINZA SIX
We Have Begun Offering a “Kamon Imprinting Service” at our GINZA SIX Store
A Round-Table Discussion by Satoru Miyashita and KIGI at the 2017 ADC Gallery Exhibition
Folding Fans and Sophistication
A Book About Kamon, Exclusively for Our GINZA SIX Store
Part 6 of a Dialogue with Satoru Miyata – The D-BROS GINZA SIX Store as a New Endeavor
D-BROS’s Traditional Crafts Project “D-BROS at GINZA SIX” Wins the ADC Member Award!
Lacquered Bunkobako (Stationery and Letter Boxes): Traditional Crafts Meet Limited Edition Products to Commemorate the Opening of D-BROS GINZA SIX
The D-BROS GINZA SIX STORE, A New Concept Store by D-BROS is Now Open!

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