Family system has not yet been thrown out by the Japanese people and so is the case of the family symbols also. ‘Ka-mon’, the Japanese term for family symbols was derived from ‘Ka’ and ‘mon’ which mean family with its own ancestral tree and emblem respectively. History of Ka-mon traces back to 1200 AD.
The Europeans also had the custom of adopting family symbols at that time, which was called ‘Coat of Arms’ . This similarity has been a stimulant for a number of comparative studies between these two symbols.
No doubt, the Japanese family symbol possesses multiple and unique characteristics which are impossible to decipher by giving them generalized explanations.
There are no specified rules for the construction of Japanese family symbols. Generally mon is found as a disc-shaped symbol encompassing any figure of plants, animals, man-made objects and mythical or real figures.
Kanji script, which is an unavoidable element of Japanese art forms, can be seen in the family symbols also. Religious and geometrical figures also are used to create these symbols. Normally these scripts and figures would be put in an abstracted form.
Although there are no set restrictions when it comes to the designing of the mon it gets its name from the contents that are illustrated in its design. The name of the mon does not really represent its depiction rather it only seeks to describe it. The blazon in the mon is not in perspective and this makes it quite different from the European crest. The designs that are illustrated on the mon come into their formalized fashion as they get the stamp of tradition through the passage of time.
There is not a specified rule for the colour selection also. However, they are commonly found in monochrome. The usage of family symbols are unaccustomed in Japan nowadays. Although there are some families that stick to use them, several families will find it difficult to identify their mon because it has been labelled as an ancient practice.
In case any family requires to identify their mon, there are several ways to find it. The temple records keep the details of the ancestral home towns of people and these records can be useful when need arises.
The Japanese family symbols are available for sale at many of the conventional arts and crafts shops all over the world. You will find the family symbol to be used in the interior decorations of restaurants as well as on ceramic roof tiles. Many Japanese packed foods also include the mon.