One of our most popular men’s kimonos is Family Crest, a striking geometric design that includes a number of intriguing heraldic-like emblems. These family crests have a centuries-old tradition in Japan, starting with the nobility in feudal times, but then adopted by samurai warriors and later by commoners, continuing in popular use right up to the present day. Our Family Crest kimono displays six different crests, which we identify below.

Family crests through the ages

But first, a few words about this Japanese tradition. The first known family crests (or kamon) date from the eighth century, when nobles at the Imperial court used them as badges of identity, much like coats of arms. In the 15th century, crests were useful to samurai warriors for distinguishing friend from foe on the battlefield (and were therefore made simple and easy to recognise). By the 17th century, family crests functioned as identifying symbols on costumes and uniforms for tradesmen’s guilds, temples, kabuki actors and even courtesans.

The present day

The tradition still thrives: the Mitsubishi company logo, for example, derives from the family crests of its two founding families, transforming oak leaf and water chestnut symbols into a simple three-diamond emblem:

 

 

(The origins of the Mitsubishi logo)

 

Up to 20,000 family crests have been documented, and any Japanese family may adopt their favourite from an enormous number of patterns, usually relating to plants, birds or animals.

Today, Japanese parents still dress their new-born babies in costumes with kamon crests when taking them to a shrine. Kimonos worn during coming-of-age ceremonies also feature crests.

Family Crest kimono

Here are the crests that you will see on our ‘Family Crest’ kimono:

 

(L to R:) Wild orange, Hollyhock and Bird Nest crests. Hollyhock was the crest of shogun rulers for over 250 years.

(L to R:) Wild orange, hollyhock and bird nest crests. Hollyhock was the crest of shogun rulers for over 250 years.

 

Family crests Cart Wheels, Gentian and Wood Sorrel

(L to R:) Cart wheels, gentian and wood sorrel. As a fast-growing weed, wood sorrel is a popular symbol of fertility. It was the crest of a 16th century samurai warlord.

 

You can find Family Crest kimono on our Men’s Cotton Kimonos page.