Heraldry

In Japan, as in Europe, feudalism produced the "nobyl and gentyl sciaunce" of heraldry, though the absence of such powerful stimuli as tournaments and the crusades prevented Japanese heraldry from developing to the same high degree of complexity as the heraldry of the West. Moreover, the use of crests is not a priviledge confined to persons of quality:-even tradesmen may use them. Most of the great Daimyōs possessed three crests or badges (mon), the lesser Daimyōs had two, ordinary Samurai one. These served in time of war to adorn the breastplate, the helmet, and the flag. In time of peace the crest was worn, as it still is by those who retain the native garb, in five places on the upper garment, namely, at the back of the neck, on each sleeve, and on each breast. Various other articles were marked with it, such as lanterns, travelling-cases (what modern curio-dealers call "Daimyō boxes"), etc., etc. The Imperial family has two crests, - the sixteen-petalled chrysanthemum (kiku no go mon), and the leaves and flowers of the paulownia (kiri no go mon). The crest of the Tokugawa dynasty of Shōguns was three asarum leaves (mitsu-aoi), whose points meet in the centre. The bamboo, the rose, the peony, even the radish, have furnished crests for noble families. Other favourite "motives" are birds, butterflies, running water, fans, feathers, ladders, bridle bits, Chinese characters, and geometrical designs. One small Daimyō, named Aoki, had for his crest the summit of Fuji, with its trifurcat ed peak issuing from the clouds. The great Shimazu family of Satsuma has the cross within a circle.

Books recommended - Japanese Heraldry, by T. R. H. McClatchie, printed in Vol. V. of the "Asiatic Transactions." Our account is a précis of McClatchie's essay.- Japanische Wappen, by R. Lange, in the "Mittheilungen des Seminars für Orientalische Sprachen zu Berlin," 1903, is the most elaborate account that has been published.