Design Office in Whitianga, New Zealand

What is Kamon?

Kamon, like the family crests in European heraldic tradition, are emblems used to identify individuals and families in Japan. The kamon is like a logo-mark and almost every family in Japan has more than one possession bearing a kamon. In the old days it was used as a decorative design for oxcarts, swords, furniture and clothing, today it is mainly used on kimono and tombstones. They have been a part of Japanese culture for some 960 years, since the year 1050. Kamon represent a family in the same way as a surname does, and each kamon has a special meaning. In olden times, people changed the kamon or created new ones according to their status in the society of that time.

Even though it is part of Japanese traditional culture, the number of Japanese who are unaware of the kamon has been increasing in recent years. It has been regarded simply as a design while its essential meaning has been overlooked. At least 25,000 kamon have been confirmed to exist, but the actual number remains unknown. Most designs are round, but there are also many exceptions to this shape. The kamon is a simple , impressive and powerful symbol.

I want to reactivate the kamon, and at the same time introduce this wonderful and beautiful culture to the people of the world. I conduct activities aimed at promoting this ancient tradition, not simply as heritage, but as a living culture, including research, production, exhibitions, courses in kamon production, and helping to create new kamon designers.

Kamon designber – Noriko Oki –


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History of Kamon

Structure of Kamon