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(Redirected from Mon)
Kanji, Kana & Pronunciation
Kamon kiri 01.gif
Romaji Kamon
Kanji 家紋
Kana かもん
Audio Coming Soon
(n) family crest

Kamon (also mon 紋, monsho 紋章, monkodoro 紋所 or mon'you 文様, 紋様) are family crests used on formal kimono (and Maiko Darari obi) to identify the owner's family, clan, or Okiya. Casual kimono such as Komon and certain Iromuji, Tsukesage, Houmongi do not have any crests at all. Mid-range formality kimono will have either one or three crests on the back. Formal kimono such as Kurotomesode will have five. They are located on the back collar, backs of sleeves, and front lapels of the kimono. In general, the more formal a kimono, the more kamon it will have.

When not chosen for aesthetic value, kamon were sometimes chosen to represent a tool or item related to the family. A tailor may have had shears, a gardener could have had an eggplant. Two existing kamon were also occasionally combined when two households merged, creating new ones.

Modern kamon are typically dyed directly into the fabric of formal kimono. When the fabric is dyed small circles are left blank and the areas filled in after the item is purchased. However, it is not uncommon to see embroidered kamon on slightly less formal items such as houmongi or iromuji. There also exists a variation known as hana-mon, which are much larger and more elaborate, often comprised of multiple colours. They are typically only put on youthful items such as furisode, and are not as formal as standard dyed or simply embroidered kamon.

As with many other aspects of kimono, there have been variations in kamon over the years. During the Edo era (and prior), they were large and dramatic, often forming a significant visual part of the design on an item. As time as has passed, they have dramatically decreased in size, to the point of being nearly indistinguishable on many modern kimono.

Kamon locations on kimono

Example Kamon

This is a small sampling of some popular kamon. There are thousands of possible permutations and variations of style, line width, shape, and combinations of motifs, so a compliation of all kamon currently in use is virtually impossible. However, for a larger series of examples, please visit the Otomiya Japan Emblem Library

Photo Gallery

Kamon of note

Kamon in modern culture

Some crests have gained recognition or notoriety for a number of reasons

Kamon kiku 01.gif This particular variant of the Kiku crest is the official seal of the Japanese Imperial Family. It can be seen on many official documents coming from the Imperial Household as well as more common things such as Japanese passports
Kamon aoi.gif This kamon was made famous due to its affiliation with the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Kamon kiri 01.gif This particular Kiri kamon is very common on modern items, due to its having been adopted as the "Everyman" crest. If a person needs a formal crested kimono and does not have their own family crest, or is not familiar with it, this is an acceptable substitute. Due to this, a huge number of formal rental kimono are decorated with it.
Kamon manji.gif The Manji or swastika design is a traditional Buddhist motif and is still to this day used as a demarcation on maps to show the location of shrines. Unfortunately, due to historical misappropriations it has very strong negative emotional connotations for many people, and has fallen out of favour, but can still be found on formal items.
Kamon mitsubishi.gif The logo of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the Mitsubishi (three diamonds) kamon. This is probably the best example of a traditional kamon saturating popular culture.
Kamon three tomoe.gif The Mitsudomoe (three tomoe) is a design commonly found on Taiko drums and Buddhist shrines as well as on several flags of now-defunct island principalities around Japan. It is also commonly used on Okinawan items, and can be seen in the anime Naruto

Kamon of the Hanamachi of Kyoto

Kamon gion kobu.gif The Kamon of Gion Kobu
Kamon gion higashi.gif The Kamon of Gion Higashi
Kamon kamishichiken.gif The Kamon of Kamishichiken
Kamon miyagawacho.gif The Kamon of Miyagawachō
Kamon pontocho.gif The Kamon of Pontochō

Article Notes

Authors & Contributors

Author/s: Diane Quintal (Moonblossom (IG Username))

Contributors/s: Naomi Graham-Hormozi (ImmortalGeisha (IG Username))