Mon (emblem)

Mon (), also monshō (紋章), mondokoro (紋所), and kamon (家紋), are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual, a family, or (more recently) an institution or business entity. While mon is an encompassing term that may refer to any such device, kamon and mondokoro refer specifically to emblems used to identify a family. An authoritative mon reference compiles Japan's 241 general categories of mon based on structural resemblance (a single mon may belong to multiple categories), with 5,116 distinct individual mon. However, it is well-acknowledged that there exist a number of lost or obscure mon.[1][2]

The mon of the Toyotomi Clan, now used as the emblem of the Japanese Government; originally an emblem of the imperial family—a stylized paulownia.
The Imperial Seal of Japan—a stylized chrysanthemum blossom
The mon of the Tokugawa shogunate—three hollyhock leaves inside a circle

The devices are similar to the badges and coats of arms in European heraldic tradition, which likewise are used to identify individuals and families. Mon are often referred to as crests in Western literature, another European heraldic device similar to the mon in function.


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