I would like to ask you all to explain the meaning of the 8-th symbol in this picture*:

enter image description here

I would like to also know what are those symbols? Thank you very much.

* Source: http://www.samurai-store.com/armor/images/options/list_samurai_crest_1.jpg

  • My family crest is very close to #6 in this list. Does anyone have any information on this crest? Hamanaka Family
    – user8658
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 6:49
  • Does anybody know about number 11? That is my family's crest.
    – user11908
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 5:39
  • @KimberlyGlauninger If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context.
    – Kobunite
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 8:27
  • @KimberlyGlauninger It's a maruni sumitate yotsume (丸に隅立四つ目), which is one of the most popular versions of the generic meiyui crests. It is a stylised imagining of the shibori dying technique's results, and commonly used by branches of the Uda Genji (宇多源氏) clan's Sasaki (佐々木氏) and related families.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 7:47

3 Answers 3


That crest is called a marunikatabami (丸に片喰 or 丸に酢漿草). The design is an encircled creeping woodsorrel flower. As such it is considered a variation of the more primary, and popular, katabami (片喰) crest, which is the same minus the circular border.

The creeping woodsorrel grows extremely well as a wild weed; it is known for being difficult to uproot once it starts growing. The katabami style crests originated from taking this property as a symbol for "propagating the family with many offsprings". Medieval Japan (and today too) had a very strong belief in continuing the family line; thus, it is easy to imagine why this became a popular design of crests. Later on, the three leaves of the katabami have also been interpreted as symbolising mercy, wisdom and virtue.

Because there was no limitations on how a clan chose their crests, the popular ones are shared by a great number of different families. Sometimes this happens when several clans descended from the same lineage; but often it is the result of nothing more than people picking the same design. This led to variations of the base design being adopted; both by clans wishing to make theirs more unique, as well as by individual members or branches of the same clan, in order to mark internal differences.

Apart from the marunikatabami, other variations exist for the katabami crest. This includes thekenkatabami (剣片喰), which adds "leaves" to the flower indicating swords for a more military flavour, and the nanatsukatabami (七つ片喰), famously used by the Chōsokabe clans. Collectively the Katabami style crests are one of the five main crests of feudal Japan.


From left to right:

  • the plain katabami crest: used by clans including the Nitta, the Hida, the Nakajō, the Taga, the Aki Fukuhara, the Sakai, the Shinshi, the Odachi, the Wada, the Kido, the Nakazawa, the Okada, and the Hosokawa Reizei.
  • the sword ken katabami crest:, used by clans including the Ukita, the Mimura, the Toshima, the Yamada, the Utanokami Sakai, the Yaku, and the Kayama.
  • the circled maru ni katabami crest: used by clans including the Naruse, the Hirose, the Adachi, the Itabe Okano, the Chimura, the Irie, the Tōdo, and the Morikawa
  • the circled sword maru ni ken katabami crest: used by clans including the Nakamura, the Hirano, the Shibuya
  • the seven flowered nanatsu katabami crest: used by the Chōsokabe clan.

These devices are calls Mons in Japanese languages and they are essential elements of Japanese heraldry. Mons are Japanese arms used to decorate and identify an individual or family. Since a Mon is hereditary, it is equal with a arms in concept but not in principles. Personally, I think Japanese heraldry has some similarities to Polish heraldry, because of a lot of common Mons and arms among clans in each of them.

Heraldic concept is the hereditary feature of a specific device, the factor what is common between Japanese heraldry and European heraldry. Fundamentally, a heraldic system is based upon hereditary transmission of emblems.

Heraldic principles are not necessarily common between Japanese heraldry and European heraldry. For example, in European heraldry we have blazon but in Japanese heraldry there is no such a thing like that.

Many of Japanese Mons are canting arms.

Anyway, the listed Mons, as far as I know, are:

  1. ?

  2. Qīyào (七曜).

  3. Watanabe boshi (渡辺星).

  4. ?

  5. Hidarimitsutomoe (左三つ巴). Utsunomiya clan, Kobayakawa clan, Saionji family.

  6. Marunimitsugashiwa mon (丸に三柏紋).

  7. ?

  8. Cù jiāng cǎo (酢漿草). Sakai clan, Chōsokabe clan.

  9. ?

  10. Xìchuān jiǔyào (細川九曜).

  11. Sumidateyotsume (隅立て四つ目).

  12. Maru ni Taka-Wa (丸に違鷹羽). Some temples assumed the Mon (like Higo).

  13. ?

  14. Jú (橘). Tachibana clan.

  15. ?

  16. Nánbù hè (南部鶴): Crane. Nanbu clan.

  17. Tsuta (蔦). Tōdō clan.

  18. Umebachi (梅鉢): Blossom of plum. Sugawara Clan

  19. ?

  20. Genjiguruma (源氏車).

There is a good work on Japanese heraldry in English that I strongly recommend it to you:

Dower, John W., The Elements of Japanese Design: A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry & Symbolism, 1971.

  • About #4 that is not identified . Again , is okabe. History says the kishiwada castle was taken in 1640 by the okabe clan. Check "your" history on the Crest. Also the info on the meaning can be found there. Wikipedia maybe ? Have you researched "your " family Crest? Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 20:14

It is the crest (mon) of the Sakai clan. The mon was used to identify a family and was worn on the clothing or on containers or buildings, or wherever a family designation was needed. The linked Wikipedia article goes into more detail. The use of mon became common during the sengoku period in Japan. A brief genealogy of the Sakai clan.

The Sakai were direct retainers of the ruling Tokugawa clan and originally it was suggested that they adopt that clan's hollyhock crest. They chose instead to adopt the yellow sorrel crest, which is similar in appearance to the hollyhock.

The Yellow Sorrel Crest of the Sakai enter image description here

The Yellow Sorrel crest of the Sakai clan (left) besides the Hollyhock crest of the Tokugawa (right), who were the lords of the Sakai.

  • 2
    It is kind of misleading to call it "of the Sakai clan"; it wasn't exclusively used by that clan, nor specifically identified with it - a whole host of families shared it. The Sakai clan used several specific katami crests; the most similar one is the Shōnai Katabami (庄内片喰), which looks like: i.imgur.com/RqgF0wN.jpg
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:01
  • @Semaphore It's kind of a loser move to copy other people's answers. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:23
  • @Semaphore Don't be coy. Your answer didn't even mention clans or have any crest images until I posted. Then you added crest images and a bevy of supposed clan associations in imitation of my answer. How would you like it if I went through all your posts and copied all the ideas to construct competing answers? Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:36
  • 7
    My original answer answered Martin's question of what the crest means, which you failed to do. Since you made an erroneous claim attributing it to one claim, I decided to expand my answer to show that most crests were not exclusive to any clan - again, a point you failed to mention in your erroneous answer. That I chose to add images to illustrate the different variations, is hardly "copying" your idea of posting an entirely different crest design. If that's your definition of "copied" go ahead and "copy" my answers.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:46
  • 7
    Your ignorance is not my responsibility, though I will point out that of all the clans I named, this Wada clan did NOT, in fact, use the crest in question - it used the katabami, which doesn't have the circle. A point I spelt out quite clearly in my answer.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 4:50

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