THIS IS A ONE MINUTE DOWNLOAD APPROX. There were many more images on this page but to help with downloads I have removed some of those.

Large and small RIN. The large Rin has a Rindai (Bowl stand) which is not the one made for it. This one is too big. The smaller Rin has a modern cushion probably made in Nepal or Bhutan. Photographed in Kyoto 2006 at a Buddhist Temple.



Rokkaku (Sasaki): daimy˘ family of ďmiSamurai Crests-Takemon

 I have put in this little meditation timer if working with your own Singing Bowls-Otherwise click the music note and choose Temple at the end which includes bowl sounds and a symbol to end your session. You can also change the time of the meditation before you start.

Film clip from the Antiques Roadshow 2007

Film Clip 2: Singing Bowl Video 2013


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Singing Bowls        Ieyasu Bowl and Craig playing this bowl

Japanese Bowl: Known as a Rin


From the Horyuji Temple in Nara.

This bowl (Rin) is the largest old Rin I have seen. It is 26 centimetres across. There are modern much larger versions but this is of particular importance and connected to the most famous of all the Shoguns.

There is an inscription around the outside of the top of the bowl which reads:


(This is the approximate Romanji
translation-click to make larger)
Translated by Megumi Bennett , Australia

Reading fom right to left from the top
ho ryu ji-The Horuji Temple is in Nara and one of the oldest wooden structures in the world
Second line
era kecho kyu means 9th year march
Third  line
tokogawa  ieyaasu no osame means a gift from togowa ieyasu


Presented by Tokugawa Ieyasu to Horuji Temple in the keicho (period)1600-
TheTokugawa Era in Japan started in 1603.

Here are some thumbnails of the actual Kanji click any to see a full size image

I have been collecting Singing Bowls or Bon, for over thirty Years. These are mainly Himalaya Bowls from Nepal and occasionally, Tibet. I have learned by now what is real and what is not. I was extremely excited by this discovery and the bowl is without any doubt, genuine. After 40 years of collecting Bowls  I have never heard anything like this incredible bowl.  The sound is astonishing. It did not have a Rindai or Bowl stand but, at this time, it stands on a cushion.

I bought my first Japanese bowl in 1978 which was a small bowl and have managed to find two other examples which are  much larger.
This very large bowl is , in my opinion, something else in both tone  and weight. I have never come across anything like this before. The bowl is thinner than others I have and that explains the amazing long and resonant tome  it produces when being struck or played. While clearly tarnished, the bowl has not deteriorated and I would not be happy to clean or polish this bowl  other than advised  by a specialist.
Meantime it stays as it is. I have gently washed the outside and inside with a very soft brush  to remove grime but that is all.  The edgeretains traces of gilding. It did not come with a stand but the stand would probably have been in the approximate shape as the ones for the two smaller examples.

The bowl was purchased from me in 2012 by a Meditation Centre in Italy where it takes pride of place and is played at every meditation session.


Cost and values:

While I have some older Japanese bowls, many of my collection are from Tibet and Nepal. I have some very old bowls and also some modern examples. The older bowls have a better sound, can be very thin and the tome is usually long and on some cases, very deep and low.  Modern copies of these very large old bowls are now made in Korea. Bowls of this size including stand and striker can be bought for around ú800 ($1000) Smaller ones cost around ú150 ($300)  to ú350 ($700) The average price for a bowl is around ú200 to ú350 depending on condition. A matching stand and striker will probably double the price. The bowl on its own would need to be in good condition and without damage, . These bowls are very difficult to repair. Its not impossible but you would need to carefully braze a thin bronze plate or a silver plate over the crack or hole and polish that edge flat. That will stop the bowl rattling when struck. It will slightly change the tone but should not damage the tone.

If the bowl has a particular inscription that has good source history can of course be worth a lot of money but most bowls were simply gifts to local temples. This would have the name of the family, the year and date presented and possibly the name of the bowl maker. . Some temples would have many of these bowls. This practise is similar to modern religions like Greek Orthodox where a family will present an Icon to a church. That will have been made for the family and would not, in normal presentation, be an antique.

Himalayan Bowls. These bowls are quite different to the Japanese shape

There is, however a research tool that can possibly ascertain the provenance and  this is  is a catalogue of the art treasures in the temple up to 1933. I was sure that a bowl such as this would have to have been catalogued. However I went to Nara in November 2006 with my guide Yumiko Hirohama, and we spoke with one of the priests and he gave me a photocopy of the pages from the book with images of bowls. I have matched one up to these. So why was that bowl taken from Nara?

Catalogue of the Art Treasures of Ten Great Temples of Nara: The Horujji Temple.
5 vols., 6, 8, 7, 5, 8 pp. introduction (in English and Japanese) to a series of 451 images on plates showing images from photographs of the temple (considered to be one of the world's oldest wooden structures) and its works of art, including interior and exterior views, floor plans, ornamental carvings,wooden and clay statues, wall-paintings, shrines, pagodas, etc. Bookplates of former owner on title-pages. Large 4to. Cloth, spine of Vol. III torn. Tokyo (The Otsuka Kogeisha) 1932-1933.

F.A. BERNETT BOOKS 144 LINCOLN ST. BOSTON, MA 02111 T: 617.350.7778
Item ID: 43548 Price: $1,650.00


Here is some information on the Tokugawa Ieyasu who lived between 1543 and 1616

Tokugawa Ieyasu

1543 - 1616

Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) was the founder of the Tokugawa bakufu of Japan,
and ruled from 1600 (officially 1603) until his abdication in 1605.

This is the Credo of Tokugawa Iyeasu

Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden.
Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not.
Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals,
and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair.
When ambitious desires arise in thy heart, recall the days of extremity thou has passed through.
Forbearance is the root of quietness and assurance forever.
Look upon the wrath of the enemy.
If thou knowest only what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated,
woe unto thee; it will fare ill with thee.
Find fault with thyself rather than with others.


This is a Thumbnail of the Scroll shown here.

Click the scroll for a bigger image

Link to the Samurai section of my Scrolls site

Below here I have listed the Matsudaira





Stone lanterns were not only decorative elements (especially this type of design) in
Japanese gardens, but also served as grave stones for some of the samurai or memorials
as found in Toshogu were all the daimyos donated lanterns to the shrine in honor of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Haiga is by a lady named Mitsuko,
Within the fenced area,
a place where the deceased are
a brush from the tree in the corner.

Probably refers to the falling petals that are a nod to the great Samurai
warriors that fell in battle like the beautiful petals falling from a Sakura-Cherry-in the spring


The Matsudaira

Relevant Pre-Sengoku Events

1534 AD  

Oda Nobunaga born


Portuguese discover Japan. Firearms introduced


Saint Frances Xavier reaches Japan

Sengoku Era


Nobunaga is de facto Shogun


Nobunaga destroys Heizan monasteries and wars against Buddhist monks


New castle as Adzuchi completed


Hideyoshi leads campaign against Western Japan (Mori and Shimadzu daimyos)


Hideyoshi succeeds to Nobunaga's power


First Christian Persecution


Hideyoshi subdues remaining opposition. Edo founded


Hideyoshi sends army against Korea. Withdraws.


Second Campaign to Korea. Terminated following year.


Hideyoshi dies. Succeeded by Ieyasu


Battke of Sekigahara won by Ieyasu


Ieyasu appointed Shogun


Seige of Osaka. Victorious Ieyasu becomes supreme ruler of Japan

Tokugawa Ieyasu was born Matsudaira Takechiyo, the son of Matsudaira Hirotada (1526-1549), a relatively minor Mikawa lord who had spent much of his young life fending off the military advances of the Oda and the political ploys of the Imagawa. The question of accepting Imagawa rule had been a source of controversy within the Matsudaira for many years, and had in fact contributed to the murder of Hirotada's father (Kiyoyasu) in 1536. Hirotada's own leanings towards the Imagawa, whom he saw as the lesser of two evils, had driven a number of family members into the arms of the Oda. To a great extent, Oda Nobuhide made his decision for him. In 1548 the Oda attacked Mikawa, and Hirotada turned to Imagawa Yoshimoto for assistance. Yoshimoto was only too willing to throw the considerable weight of the Imagawa in with Hirotada but on the condition that Hirotada's young son be sent to Sumpu as a hostage. The decision was not an easy one, and prompted a storm of protest within the Matsudaira, but in the end Hirotada agreed. Takechiyo was duly prepared and sent off on the road east with a group of other young men (also hostages but primarily present to serve Takechiyo). Unfortunately, the wily Oda Nobuhide caught wind of the deal, and saw to it that Takechiyo's entourage was intercepted on the road to Suruga. Takechiyo was wisked away to Owari and confined to Kowatari Castle. While he was not badly treated, Nobuhide threatened to put him to death unless Hirotada renounce his ties with the Imagawa and ally with the Oda. Hirotada wisely elected to call his Owari rival's bluff and made no response except to say that the sacrifice of his own son could only impress upon the Imagawa his dedication to their pact. Nobuhide was no doubt disappointed his scheme had not borne fruit, but did young Takechiyo no harm. The following year, 1549, both Hirotada and Nobuhide passed away, leaving the Matsudaira leaderless and the already splintered Oda weakened. Imagawa wasted no time in capitalizing on this turn of events, and dispatched his uncle, Sessai, with an army to attack the Oda's border castles. The primary objective was Anjo, a former Matsudaira fort which presently housed Oda Nobuhiro, Nobuhide's eldest son and successor. Sessai, a reknowned warrior, surrounded Anjo, and the fall of that place looked to be inevitable. Yet rather then press home the assault, Sessai struck a bargain with Oda Nobunaga, Nobuhide's 2nd son. Anjo - and Nobuhiro - would be spared in return for the release of Takechiyo. Nobunaga had little choice but to agree, and Sessai returned to Suruga with Takechiyo, who finally arrived in Sumpu after a year's delay.

Takechiyo's life in the capital of the Imagawa would not be uncomfortable, but for those Matsudaira kinsmen and retainers back in Mikawa, the following years would be long and depressing. Happy to take advantage of the clan's sad state, Yoshimoto saw to it that Imagawa men received important posts and forts within Mikawa.


Takechiyo came of age 1556, and received the name Matsudaira Motoyasu, the MOTO coming from Yoshimoto himself. He was allowed to return to Mikawa that same year, and was tasked with fighting a series of battles against the Oda on the Imagawa's behalf. For all the damage the years of Imagawa interference and in-fighting had wrought, the famed fighting spirit of the Mikawa samurai was hardly tarnished. Motoyasu scored a notable local victory at Terabe and made a name for himself (at Nobunaga's expense) with the provisioning of Odaka. In that instance, Motoyasu had brought in much-needed supplies to a beleaguered fort by tricking the bulk of the attackers into marching away to face a non-existent enemy army. With these victories, the Mikawa men began to grumble that it was time for the Matsudaira to be allowed to set their own course. Yoshimoto, however, was much too busy with planning his most ambitious military endeavor to be bothered with such trivialities. In 1560, he assembled an army of as many as 20,000 men and prepared to march on Kyoto. No other daimyo had attempted such a move since Oűchi Yoshioki had restored Ashikaga Yoshitane in 1508 and was possible only after a decade of political dealing with the Takeda and H˘j˘ clans. To this end, the Matsudaira would be in the vanguard of the army, though when the campaign began in June, Motoyasu was dispatched from the main army to bring down Marune. After a bit of tough fighting, the fort was brought down and the Mikawa men allowed to lager there for a time resting. For this reason Motoyasu and his clan were able to avoid the Battle of Okehazama, which occurred some miles away and cost the life of Yoshimoto himself. Motoyasu readily retreated back across the border into Mikawa, and afterwards worked to free himself of Imagawa influence. Pragmatic despite his youth, Motoyasu proceeded to strike up an alliance with Nobunaga, though initially in secret - a number of his close family (including his infant son) were still held hostage in Sumpu by Yoshimoto's successor, Ujizane. In 1561 Motoyasu ordered the capture of Kaminojo, an endeavor that served a number purposes. Firstly, it sent a clear message to Nobunaga that the Matsudaira had really and truly cut their ties to the Imagawa. Secondly, Motoyasu got his hands on two sons of the slain castle commander, Udono Nagamochi, which he used as barter with Ujizane. Perhaps due to the fact that the Udono were a important Imagawa retainer clan, Ujizane unwisely agreed to release Motoyasu's family members in return for the Udono children. As soon as he was reunited with his wife and son, Motoyasu was free to make any moves we wished without hindrance. The next few years were spent rebuilding a Matsudaira clan badly fragmented by years of strife and a province weakened by war. To this end he carefully nurtured and strengthened his retainer band by giving them lands and positions within the administration of Mikawa. Chief among his followers at this time were Ishikawa Kazumasa, Sakai Tadatsugu, Sakikabara Yasumasa, Koriki Kiyonaga, and Honda Tadakatsu. Luckily, there were castles to be had within Mikawa's borders, manned by Imagwa men, and these would be taken and redistributed by 1566.

He defeated the militant Mikawa monto in March 1564 in a sharp encounter that saw him actually struck by a bullet that failed to penetrate his armor. Soon afterwards he began testing the Imagawa defenses in T˘t˘mi. Having thus begun to make a name for himself, in 1566 he petitioned the court to allow him to change his name to Tokugawa, a request that was granted and so from this point he became known as Tokugawa Ieyasu. He liked to claim that his blood was Minamoto, and cited descent from the Nitta clan to this end. In fact, little at all is known of the Matsudaira/Tokugawa prior to the 15th Century, and Ieyasu's claims seem a tad unsupportable. Some indication of the genealogical spin-doctoring Ieyasu freely engaged in can be gleaned from the fact that he also had an alternate family tree drawn up that claimed descent from the noble Fujiwara.

Though the Tokugawa could claim some modicum of freedom, they were very much subject to the requests of Oda Nobunaga. When Oda marched on Kyoto in 1568, Tokugawa troops were present, the first of many joint Oda-Tokugawa ventures. At the same time, Ieyasu was eager to expand eastward. He entered into a brief pact with Takeda Shingen of Kai and Shinano aimed at absorbing the remaining Imagawa territory and by 1570 Ieyasu had added T˘t˘mi to his domain. The Takeda occupied Suruga and it may be that Ieyasu regretted his dealings with Shingen, for even before Shingen had taken Sumpu, Ieyasu was sheltering Ujizane and promising to restore his lands to him.1 Needless to say, Takeda-Tokugawa relations began to sink, made all the worse by an attempt on Ieyasu's part to secure an alliance with Shingen's great enemy Uesugi Kenshin. As to inflame the situation, Ieyasu then moved his headquarters to Hamamatsu in T˘t˘mi (closer to Shingen), an action even Nobunaga called needless provacative. Soon the Takeda and Tokugawa would be at war. In June of 1570, Ieyasu led 5,000 men to help Nobunaga win the Battle of Anegawa against the Asai and Asakura, a victory owed largely to the efforts of the Tokugawa men. This would be the last opportunity Ieyasu would have to send troops west for two years, as the Tokugawa were increasingly pressured by the advances of the Takeda. In 1572 Ieyasu lost Futamata Castle, then suffered a defeat at the Battle of Mikatagahara, where he was enticed to march out of Hamamatsu and face Shingen in open battle - and barely escaped with his life. Luckily for the Tokugawa, Takeda Shingen died later in the Spring of 1573, although his heir, Katsuyori, managed to capture the important Tokugawa fort of Taketenjin in 1574. In 1575 Katsuyori surrounded Nagashino Castle in Mikawa, and when word reached Ieyasu, he called on Nobunaga for help. When the latter dragged his feet on the matter, Ieyasu went as far as to threaten to JOIN the Takeda and spearhead an attack on Owari and Mino. This was the sort of talk that Nobunaga respected, and he immediately led an army into Mikawa. The combined Oda-Tokugawa force of some 38,000 crushed the Takeda army on 28 June but did not vanquish it. Katsuyori continued to bother the Tokugawa afterwards, and the Takeda and Tokugawa raided one another's lands frequently.

In 1579 Ieyasu's eldest son, Hideyasu, and his wife were accused of conspiring with Takeda Katsuyori. Due in part to pressure from Nobunaga, Ieyasu ordered his son to commit suicide and had his wife executed. Like his late rival, Takeda Shingen, Tokugawa was known to run hot and cold, and could be utterly merciless when the overall fortunes of his clan were at stake. He would in time name his 3rd son, Hidetada, as heir, since his second was to be adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

in Spring 1582 the Tokugawa joined Nobunaga in finally invading and destroying the Takeda and for his efforts Ieyasu received Suruga province, an acquisition which must have brought him no small private satisfaction. He now bordered the H˘j˘, and cautiously sounded them out, his efforts helped in part by a personal friendship from his hostage days in Sumpu, H˘j˘ Ujinori, bother of the daimyo, Ujimasa.

Ieyasu was staying in Sakai (Settsu province) when Nobunaga was killed by Akechi Mitushide in June 1582 and narrowly escaped with his own life back to Mikawa. The Tokugawa were not in a position to challenge Mitsuhide, but did take advantage of the uncertainty following the Battle of Yamazaki to take Kai and Shinano, a move that prompted the H˘j˘ to send troops into Kai; no real fighting occurred, and the Tokugawa and H˘j˘ made peace. Ieyasu gave some of his lands in Kai and Shinano to the H˘j˘, though found himself embarrassed in this respect by Sanada Masayuki the following year. In the meantime, Ieyasu readily availed himself of the example of government left behind by Takeda Shingen and was quick to employ surviving Takeda men within his own retainer band. He avoided becoming involved in the conflict between Shibata Katsuie and Toyotomi Hideyoshi that culminated in the Battle of Shizugatake (1583), but became aware that sooner or later Hideyoshi would come to test his own resolve.

Rise to power


In 1584, Ieyasu chose to take up the cause of Oda Nobukatsu, one of the late Nobunaga's sons and a claimant to succeed him. This appears to have been a calculated move intended to draw Hideyoshi into the field. Certainly, no better time for a showdown was likely to present itself, and Ieyasu made the most of the opportunity. To this end he led an army into Owari and took up a position at Komaki. Hideyoshi responded to the Tokugawa insolence by leading an army into Owari and starting what would come to be known as the Komaki Campaign. Ieyasu won the single notable battle of this campaign, at Nagakute, and by the end of the year a truce was in effect. In fact, Oda Nobukatsu himself had undermined Tokugawa's stance by making a separate peace with Hideyoshi. Now quite without a cause for further fighting, Ieyasu went to Osaka the following spring and gave a promise of good will towards Hideyoshi. Nonetheless, the Komaki Campaign had made Hideyoshi wary of Ieyasu, and with the exception of the Odawara Campaign (1590), the Tokugawa were exempted from participating in any of Hideyoshi's further campaigns. In an interesting postscript, long time Tokugawa retainer Ishikawa Kazumasa abandoned Ieyasu for Hideyoshi in 1585. As Ishikawa had been privvy to all of the Tokugawa military secrets and organization, Ieyasu was compelled to completly over-haul the Tokugawa military structure, and is believed to have done so following a system devised by Takeda Shingen.

While the Tokugawa were allowed to sit out Hideyoshi's invasions of Shikoku and Kyushu, their position on the Tokai Coast did place them in a central role when tensions between Hideyoshi and the H˘j˘ spiked in the late 1580's. To a greater or lesser extent, Ieyasu did what he could politically for Ujimasa, but in the end was unable to overcome that daimyo's own stubbornness. In 1589 Hideyoshi ordered preparations for an invasion of the Kanto, and the Tokugawa were to act as a vanguard.

Ieyasu led some 30,000 men into the H˘j˘'s lands as part of Hideyoshi's massive 1590 effort to force the capitulation of Odawara. During the siege of Odawara, Hideyoshi offered him the provinces of the Kanto, which he felt compelled to accept (and legend has it they peed together to seal the agreement). On paper, the deal was an exceedingly good one: Ieyasu would trade the five provinces he presently held for the eight that constituted the Kanto. In truth, the trade would be about even in that three of these provinces were already occupied (Satomi in Awa, Satake in Hitachi, and Utsunomiya in Shimotsuke) although the remaining provinces were still very rich. When the H˘j˘ surrendered in August 1590, Ieyasu began a rapid move from his provinces of Mikawa, T˘t˘mi, Suruga, Shinano, and Kai into the Kanto region, establishing his headquarters at Edo. He was now a great lord with an income of as much as 1,000,000 koku, though one who now had quite a bit of reorganizing to do. This may well have been what Hideyoshi had had in mind when he offered the Kanto. Ieyasu was richer now, but further from the center of Japanese politics and easily containable beyond the Hakone Mountains should he betray their alliance.

Ieyasu served in Hideyoshi's Kyushu headquarters during the Korean Expeditions (1592-93, 1597-98) but was not required to provide any troops for the actual campaign and was most likely present so that Hideyoshi could keep an eye on him. Luckily, Ieyasu's retainer band contained a number of skilled administrators, and these continued the work of consolidating the new Tokugawa domain even as their lord was away on Kyushu.


in 1598 Ieyasu was named one of the five regents responsible for ruling while young Toyotomi Hideyori came of age (Hideyoshi had intended there to be six, but one of the chosen, Kobayakawa Takakage, predeceased him). Ieyasu was probably the most powerful of these men, but Hideyoshi had chosen the others carefully. Ieyasu's four colleagues (Maeda Toshiie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, M˘ri Terumoto, and Ukita Hideie) were men whose loyalty to the Toyotomi name could be counted on after Hideyoshi died. Yet after Hideyoshi died in September 1598, Tokugawa almost immediately began making provocative alliances with families such as the Date and proceeded to alienate the other regents. Additionally, Ieyasu occupied first Fushimi, then Osaka Castle (following the death of Maeda Toshiie in 1599), actions that prompted suspicion on the part of the other regents. Resistance to Ieyasu's moves was cantered around Ishida Mitsunari, who unsuccessfully attempted to have Ieyasu assassinated in 1599. When that plan failed, Ishida himself was marked for death by a number of Tokugawa generals, and found refuge, oddly enough, with Ieyasu himself. Whatever Ieyasu's motives may have been in saving his rivals' life, by 1600 two camps had formed, one (the 'eastern') around Ieyasu, and the other (the 'western') around Ishida. The latter was determined to make the first move, and depended on Uesugi Kagekatsu, who held a vast fief northeast of Ieyasu. Ishida counted on Uesugi tying down Ieyasu long enough for the capital region to be firmly brought under Western control, at which point any move by Ieyasu could be countered from a footing of at least equal power. The Uesugi and Tokugawa began feuding in June and actual war came in August 1600. Ishida's grand strategy (such as it was) began to come apart almost immediately. Ieyasu left Uesugi to be contained by the Date and Mogami, and led an army westward in October. At the same time, Ishida did manage to take Fushimi and a number of other important points in the Kinai, but not with the timeliness required. Fate seemed to de dealing cards to both sides in equal measure, for on the eve of the final confrontation, both sides were without their full complements. Ieyasu's heir Hidetada (with 36,000 men) had unwisely chosen to dally about in Shinano attempting bring down Ueda while around the same number of 'western' samurai were too far away to aid in the fight. Ieyasu's ace in the hole, however, was knowledge that Kobayakawa Hideaki intended to betray Ishida during the battle, and the knowledge (provided by Kikkawa Tsunie) that the M˘ri (who had been insulted by Ishida) were none too eager to fight.

The Battle of Sekigahara opened on the misty morning of 21 October1600 with as many as 160,000 warriors prepared to fight the greatest battle in Japanese history. The irony was that there had been no rhyme or reason to the choice of this particular battlefield. While Saito Dosan had once said that he who controls Sekigahara controls Japan, this was simply where the two sides had the most room to maneuver. At the same time, the terrain favored Ishida. Tokugawa was largely staggered out in a valley, with his forward units dangerously exposed to encirclement. The key was Kobayakawa Hideaki. His 16,000 men, positioned on Mt. Matsuo and looking down at the forward Ishida and Tokugawa lines, would likely decide the issue one way or the other.

The battle at 0800 began with a spirited Tokugawa attack and developed into a general melee conducted under a driving rain. Ieyasu moved his headquarters forward at 1000 and anxiously eyed Kobayakawa, whose ranks had not moved since the start of the action. No real advantage was being enjoyed by either side, and Hidetada was still mnay hours away. The bright spot was that just as Kikawa Tsunie had promised, the M˘ri, largely positioned on the eastern slopes of Mt. Nangű, had yet to make any moves. Finally, at noon, Ieyasu ordered rifle fire directed at Kobayakawa's position and this did the trick - Hideaki ordered a general advance against Ishida's forces, and the battle turned in Ieyasu's favor. By that late afternoon, the Battle of Sekigahara was decided and Ieyasu was able to view the many heads taken and also to greet his son Hidetada very icily when he finally arrived. Over the next few days Ishida Mitsunari and a number of other chief 'western' commanders were caught and executed in Kyoto.

With the defeat of the Western cause, Ieyasu was the undisputed master of Japan. While he had never declared his intention to rule the country, this was the abiding effect of Sekigahara. He used his power to redistribute lands to those who had served him, and reduced the lands of those who had not, marking the latter as tozama (Outside Lords). For instance, he reduced the Mori holdings from 1,200,000 koku to just under 370,000 while granting Maeda Toshinaga an additional 360,000 koku, making the Maeda the wealthiest daimyo in Japan behind Ieyasu himself). Some of the 'western' daimyo he left untouched (such as the Shimazu), while others he stripped of all lands (Ukita, Chosokabe, and Miyabe, for instance). To an extent, he made his decisions in these matters with the understanding that Toyotomi Hideyori was still alive and well in the mighty Osaka Castle.


In 1603 the emperor granted Ieyasu the title of sh˘gun, an honor helped along by his 'Minamoto' genealogy. He held this post for only two years before officially retiring in favor of his son Hidetada. Retreating to Sumpu in Suruga province, he supervised the expansion of Chiyoda (Edo) Castle and the expansion of the surrounding town over the next few years, and conducted diplomatic business with the Dutch (1609) and Spanish, with whom he distanced Japan.
In May 1611 Ieyasu returned to Kyoto at the head of 50,000 men, his trip ostensibly to attend the retirement of Emperor Goy˘zei and the succession of Go-Mizono˘. During his stay in the Capital, Ieyasu ordered the expansion of the Imperial Court's buildings and grounds and asked the western daimy˘ to sign a three-part document vowing their fealty.2 Perhaps based on his experiences on this trip, he composed the
Kuge shohatto in 1613, a document that placed restrictions on the activities of the nobility, essentially limiting that class to ceremonial and aesthetic pursuits. In 1615 he would order the preparation of the Buke Shohatto, a document which contained the injunctions contained within the 1611 order and was initially a 13-article code (amended in 1635). Drawing on previous house codes and earlier ideas, Ieyasu, possibly concerned for the future of his house, formalized what was essentially a 'house code' for the nation's daimy˘. In a further move to secure the stability of the Tokugawa regime, he issued the final and most sweeping Christian Expulsion Edict in 1614.











The following year, Ieyasu fell ill and died in bed. Unlike Hideyoshi, he could pass away secure in the future of his house. The dynasty he had created was exceedingly solid, with three sub-branches (the Kii, Owari, and Mito) maintained for the sole purpose of providing an heir should the main branch fail to produce one. The daimyo were weary of war, and more or less content to enjoy the fruits of their labors. There would be disputes and grievances, but with the exception of the short and bloody Shimabara Rebellion, Japan would enjoy peace for over two hundred years. At the same time, Tokugawa Ieyasu had another legacy - never before had Japan been as socially rigid, nor had the common man and woman had so little control over their own lives. The daimy˘ - especially those tagged as tozama - would also suffer the brunt of the fledgling Tokugawa's heavy-handedness, with relief coming only after the death of the third sh˘gun Iemitsu in 1651.

Few leaders in Japanese history are as difficult to gauge as Tokugawa Ieyasu. At once fair and heartless, Ieyasu was a veteran of countless battles and a life fraught with vicissitudes that included the forced suicide of his eldest son and the execution of his first wife. He was moved to express compassion at the head of his defeated enemy Takeda Katsuyori and protected many former Takeda retainers from Nobunaga's wrath. His worries for the health of his granddaughter (Hideyori's widow) when she fell after the fall of Osaka Castle is touching in that one can see no real motive other then grandfatherly concern. At the same time, he rarely forgot a grudge, and once, as an adult, executed a prisoner who had insulted him in childhood.


The final threat to Tokugawa hegemony was Hideyori. Ironically, Hideyori does not appear to have harboured any particular desire to face Ieyasu. Ieyasu, though, was unwilling to take any chances, especially given his own advanced age. He engineered a pretext for war in 1614 over a convoluted and supposed slight that involved the casting of a great bell. At this point Hideyori had felt compelled to open the gates of Osaka to thousands of ronin for self-defence, and now found himself under attack. The initial Tokugawa assault (called the Osaka Winter Campaign) was repulsed bloodily, and despite the protests of Hidetada Ieyasu sought an indirect resolution of the situation. Guessing that the matron of the castle, Hideyori's mother Yodo-gimi, was a weak link that could be exploited, Ieyasu ordered that her location be determined and cannon fire directed in that area. This had the desired effect and to the shock of the defending generals, Yodo-gimi convinced Hideyori to negotiate. Ieyasu was seemingly magnanimous. He promised the defenders that he would honor a peaceful solution to the crisis, and that Hideyori would be allowed to retain his holdings in the Settsu-Kwatchi area. Moreover, no action would be taken against any member of the defending army. Hideyori, who had probably never wanted a war with a man he had grown up considering an uncle in the first place, agreed and ordered his followers to stand down. Ieyasu made a show of arranging for his army to withdraw, then promptly arranged for Osaka's outer moat to be filled in, the actual deed being done by Honda Masazumi. Hideyori protested, and Ieyasu ultimately revoked his peace offer. The Osaka Summer Campaign essentially revolved around the climactic Battle of Tenn˘ji in June 1615, the last great samurai battle and a Tokugawa victory. With the defeat of his army and the Tokugawa pouring through Osaka's gates, Hideyori and his mother committed suicide. In the aftermath Ieyasu personally ordered that Hideyori's infant son be executed and Osaka Castle largely dismantled.

 Yet he never forgot a friend either, and rarely left a loyal retainer unrewarded. He was at heart a rustic Mikawa samurai, and had little time for poetry or theatre, spending most of his free time hawking or swimming, two of his favourite hobbies.

Occasionally foolhardy in his youth and at times exceedingly cautious in his later years, Ieyasu did not win all of his battles, but he won those that counted. He was also a calculating political gambler, and as much a schemer it would seem as his rival Ishida Mitsunari. More then anything else, though, Tokugawa Ieyasu was a man who seemed to have a sweeping vision and the ability to live his life as a master of Go might win a game-slowly but steadily, and with no doubt in the outcome.

Most of the images on this page are taken from the Royal Armouries Exhibition and come  from their website. These are copyright to them and can not be used for any commercial purposes ę Image property of Nikko Toshogu Shrine

1. Ieyasu was not particularly well-known for his sentimentality, but he did attempt to make good on his promise to Ujizane, suggesting to Oda in 1582 (after the defeat of the Takeda) that the former Imagawa daimy˘ be given back Sumpu. Nobunaga, however, flatly refused to give his approval, and so Ujizane whiled away the rest of his life in easy retirement. Under the Tokugawa bakufu, the Imagawa would become Koke, or landless Masters of Ceremonies.
2. This document was as follows:
   1. We will respect the laws and formularies established by the bakufu for generations since the time of the General of the Right (Yoritomo); out of concern for our own interest, we will strictly obey any regulations which may be passed by Edo hereafter.
   2. If there will be someone who violates the laws and regulations or goes contrary to the instructions given from above (Edo), we will not harbour any such person in our    respective domains.
   3. If any samurai or subordinate officer in our employ is found guilty of rebellion or homicide, and that fact is reported to us, we pledge to each other that we will not take    the offender into our employ.
   In case any of the foregoing articles is violated, upon investigation conducted by Edo, we shall be immediately liable to be severely dealt in accordance with the laws and    regulations.
       Sixteenth Year of Keich˘ [1611] fourth month, 16th day.
Ieyasu would impose a similar document on the daimy˘ of northern Japan the following year.

Berry, Mary Elizabeth Hideyoshi Harvard 1982
Bryant, Anthony Sekigahara 1600 Osprey 1995
Hall, John W. and Marius Jansen (ed.) Studies in the Institutional History of Early Modern Japan Princeton 1968
Jansen, Marius (ed.) Warrior Rule in Japan Cambridge 1995
Lu, David John Sources of Japanese History McGraw-Hill 1974
Sadler, A. L. The Maker of Modern Japan Tuttle 1978
Sansom, George A History of Japan 1334-1615 Standford 1961
Totman, Conrad Tokugawa Ieyasu: Sh˘gun Heian 1983

Shogun: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu-An exhibition at  the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, England
Ian Bottomley introduces an exhibition which reflects a special moment in Anglo-Japanese relations in the 17th century, echoed today by a unique loan arrangement between the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds and the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, resting place of the first significant Shogun.

For centuries Japan has looked after the treasures belonging to its great statesman and Shogun, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Now, for the first time in history eighty of these breathtaking objects ľ screens, weapons, armour, art, scrolls, furniture ľ are leaving their sacred shrines. Their destination, for three months only, is the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled over a single nation forged from hundreds of rival factions. He made a series of audacious alliances and fought one of the most extraordinary battles in history. His life heralded a period of peace that lasted more than two centuries. Shogun, Tokugawa created modern Japan, founding its capital and its political culture, influencing its literature and art. He was made a god, and is honoured today as he was at the height of this power.

Explore the life of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu and the art, culture and traditions of Japan at the Royal Armouries this summer. Take part in armour design, origami workshops or watch Japanese horseback archery and other special demonstrations taking place in the Museum during the Shogun exhibition.















it is no coincidence that the Royal Armouries Museum is hosting an exhibition this summer to celebrate the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the Shogun of Japan in the early years of the seventeenth century. Two armours, a gift from the Tokugawa to James I of England and VI of Scotland were the first known oriental items to enter the Royal Armouries collection in the Tower of London. These, together with a sword and a number of painted screens, were given to mark the successful conclusion of a trading treaty between Japan and England, negotiated in 1613 by Captain John Saris of the East India Company (although there is no record that James ever received this gift). The presentation was made through Tokugawa Hidetada, but it was his father, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who signed the treaty document and it was his personal armourer, Iwai Yosaemon of Nara who made the armours. Sarisĺs diary recording the gift, and one of the gift armours, will appear in the exhibition.


The Royal Armouriesĺ partner in this venture is Nikko Toshogu Shrine, the burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Royal Armouries Museum and Nikko Toshogu established a partnership in 1992 and have been making mutual loans and ...



Founded by Prince Shotoku, who is attributed with having introduced Buddhism to Japan, Horyuji is one of Japan's oldest temples. Its main hall, five storied pagoda and central gate, all located in the temple's Saiin Garan (Western Precinct) and dating from the 7th century, are the world's oldest surviving wooden structures.

Next to the Saiin Garan is the newly constructed Daihozoin, a hall that exhibits a part of the temple's art collection. The main attraction of the Horyuji's Toin Garan (Eastern Precinct) is the Yumedono, the Hall of Visions.

In 1993, Horyuji was designated a UNESCO world heritage site


About Horin-ji temple

Horin-ji temple is a charming, small Buddhist temple from the 7th century. It was founded by Prince Shotoku's son, Prince Yamashiro-no-Oe in 622, as a place to pray for Prince Shotoku's recovery. The temple was no more than a small prayer hall at first, but was later enlarged into a full-scale temple. According to old records, when Horyu-ji temple burned down in 670, the priests built three monasteries before deciding where the Horyu-ji would be built. This temple was one of the three. In 1645, a violent storm destroyed all the buildings except for the pagoda, and the pagoda was struck by lightening in 1940 and also burned down. There are no buildings remaining from when the temple was first built.

There are the Shoro (Bell Tower), Kon-do (Golden Hall), Kodo (Lecture Hall / Treasure Hall), and its old temples in Horin-ji temple. This temple was built on the basis of Horyu-ji temple, so it provides the miniature reproduction of Horyu-ji temple. In the Kodo, which mostly serves as the temple treasure hall, are temple sculptures safely preserved. Sculptures such as the Yakushi Nyorai and a Sho Kannon, were originally kept in the Kon-do.

ôRain at Horyuji Temple, Naraö by Tsuchiya Koitsu (1870-1949) dated 1938. The black ink signature and red seal of the artist are at the lower right. The title and date are printed in the lower right margin. The seals of the publisher Doi Hangaten, printer Yokoi and carver Harada are in the left margin. The Doi publisherĺs watermark is at the upper left.








Museums in Japan:






Japanese History

A Timeline


A brief timeline of Japanese history.


Note: Many dates are approximate. Some developments emerged over a period of years, and precise dates for events before A.D. 600 have not been determined. Notice how long the prehistorical era was compared to other periods.

JOMON (10,000 - 300 B.C.) Prehistoric period of tribal/clan organization.
Stone Age hunters and gatherers who make jomon (rope-patterned) pottery inhabit Japan. 660 B.C. Mythological Jimmu ("Divine Warrior"), descendant of sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, founds empire.

YAYOI (300 B.C. - A.D. 300) Rice cultivation, metalworking, and the potter's wheel are introduced from China and Korea. Era named "Yayoi" after the place in Tokyo where wheel-turned pottery was found.
In Shinto, Japan's oldest religion, people identify kami (divine forces) in nature and in such human virtues as loyalty and wisdom. 100-300: Local clans form small political units.

KOFUN (YAMATO) (300 - 645) Unified state begins with emergence of powerful clan rulers; Japan establishes close contacts with mainland Asia.
Clan rulers are buried in kofun (large tomb mounds), surrounded by haniwa (clay sculptures). Yamato clan rulers, claiming descent from Amaterasu Omikami, begin the imperial dynasty that continues to occupy the throne today. Japan adopts Chinese written characters. Shotoku Taishi (574-622) begins to shape Japanese society and government more after the pattern of China. He seeks centralization of government and a bureaucracy of merit. He also calls for reverence for Buddhism and the Confucian virtues.

ASUKA (645 -710) A great wave of reforms called the Taika no Kaishin (Taika Reforms) aims to strengthen the emperor's power.
New aristocratic families are created. Especially powerful is that of Fujiwara no Kamatari, who helped push the reforms.

NARA (710 - 794) Imperial court builds new capital, modeled upon Chang-an in China, at Nara. Though emperors are Shinto chiefs, they patronize Buddhism in the belief that its teachings will bring about a peaceful society and protect the state.
Legends surrounding the founding of Japan are compiled as history in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan). With the adoption of Buddhism as the state religion, its monasteries gain political power.

HEIAN (794-1185) Imperial court moves to Heiankyo (now Kyoto) to escape domination of Nara's Buddhist establishment. Official contacts with China stop in 838.
Buddhism, in combination with native Shinto beliefs, continues to flourish. Flowering of classical Japanese culture aided by invention of kana (syllabary for writing Japanese language). Court women produce the best of era's literature. Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji (ca. 1002) is the world's first novel. Court undergoes decline of power with rise of provincial bushi (warrior class).

KAMAKURA (185-1333) Military government established in Kamakura by Minamoto no Yoritomo. Emperor, as figurehead, remains in Kyoto with the court aristocracy.

1192: Imperial court confers on Yoritomo the title of seii taishogun ("barbarian-subduing generalissimo"). Bushi become new ruling class.

1274, 1281: Kublai Khan's Mongol invasions are repelled with help of kamikaze ("divine winds," or storms). Defense against these invasions weakens structure of the military government at Kamakura.

MUROMACHI (1333 -1568) Muromachi district of Kyoto becomes base for Shogun Ashikaga Takauji's new military government.
Takauji and his successors become patrons of Zen and spontaneity in ink painting, garden design, and the chanoyu (tea ceremony).

1467-1568: The 10 year-long Onin no Ran (Onin War) brings disintegration of central government, followed by the Sengoku Jidai (Era of the Country at War). Firearms introduced by shipwrecked Portuguese soldiers (1543),Christianity by Francis Xavier (1549).

AZUCHIMOMOYA MA (1568 -1600) Oda Nobunaga starts process of reunifying Japan after a century of civil war; he is followed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). Foundation of modern Japan is laid.
Hideyoshi's ambition to conquer Korea and China is thwarted by local resistance. Arts such as painting, monumental decorative designs, and the tea ceremony continue to flourish.

EDO (TOKUGAWA) (1600 -1868) Japan enters an age of peace and national isolation.
Tokugawa leyasu founds new shogunate at Edo (now Tokyo). In 1635 national isolation policy limits Chinese and Dutch traders to Nagasaki. Christianity is suppressed. Establishment of rigid social hierarchy ensures peace and stability throughout Japan. (Samurai are ranked highest, followed by farmers, artisans, and merchants.) By the early 1700s, cities and commerce flourish. A growing merchant class enjoys Kabuki and Bunraku theater. Printing and publication of books increase; education becomes available to the urban population. Commodore Matthew C. Perry and his steam frigates arrive in Japan (1853); the United States wants to use Japanese ports as supply bases for its commercial fleet. Japan accepts the U.S. demands and opens its door for the first time in two centuries.


MEIJI (1868 -1912) The emperor is restored; Japan makes transition to nation-state.
Dispossessed bushi become soldiers, policemen, and teachers with fall of feudal system and political reform. New national policy is to make Japan a rich and powerful country, to prevent invasion by Western powers. Emphasis is on building a strong military and strengthening industries. Japan becomes world power through victories in Sino-Japanese (1895) and Russo-Japanese (1904-05) wars. Korea annexed (1910-45).





-300 BC


The early Japanese were gatherers, hunters and fishers.

300 BC-300


The intoduction of rice agriculture evokes the development of a social hierarchy and hundreds of small countries that started to unify into larger countries.



300 Japan is for the first time more or less united. Large tombs (kofun) were built for the deceased leaders.



538/552 Introduction of Buddhism.
604 Prince Shotoku's Constitution of seventeen articles is promulgated.
645 The Taika reform is introduced. The Fujiwara era starts.



710 Nara becomes the first permanent capital.
784 The capital moves to Nagaoka.



794 The capital moves to Heian (Kyoto).
1016 Fujiwara Michinaga becomes regent.
1159 The Taira clan under Taira Kiyomori takes over the power after the Heiji war.
1175 The Buddhist Jodo sect (Pure land sect) is introduced.
1180-85 In the Gempei War, the Minamoto clan puts an end to Taira supremacy.



1191 The Zen sect is intoduced.
1192 Minamoto Yoritomo is appointed shogun and establishes the Kamakura government.
1221 The Jokyu Disturbance ends a struggle between Kamakura and Kyoto resulting in the supremacy of the Hojo regents in Kamakura.
1232 A legal code, the Joei Shikimoku, is promulgated.
1274 and 1281 The Mongols try to invade Japan twice, but fail mainly because of bad weather conditions.
1333 The Kamakura bakufu falls.



1334 Kemmu restoration: the emperor restores power over Japan.
1336 Ashikaga Takauji captures Kyoto.
1337 The emperor flees and establishes the Southern court in Yoshino.
1338 Takauji establishes the Muromachi government and a second emperor in Kyoto (Northern court).
1392 Unification of the Southern and Northern courts.
1467-1477 Onin war.
1542 Portuguese introduce firearms and Christianity to Japan.
1568 Nobunaga enters Kyoto.
1573 The Muromachi Bakufu falls.



1575 The Takeda clan is defeated in the battle of Nagashino.
1582 Nobunaga is murdered and succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
1588 Hideyoshi confiscates the weapons of farmers and religious institutions in the "Sword Hunt".
1590 Japan is reunited after the fall of Odawara (Hojo).
1592-98 Unsuccessful invasion of Korea.
1598 Death of Hideyoshi.
1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats his rivals in the battle of Sekigahara.

1603 - 1867


1603 Ieyasu is appointed shogun and establishes the Tokugawa government in Edo (Tokyo).
1614 Ieyasu intensifies persecution of Christianity.
1615 The Toyotomi clan is destroyed after Ieyasu captures Osaka Castle.
1639 Almost complete isolation of Japan from the rest of the world.
1688-1703 Genroku era: popular culture flourishes.
1792 The Russians unsuccessfuly try to establish trade relations with Japan.
1854 Commodore Matthew Perry forces the Japanese government to open a limited number of ports for trade.



1868 Meiji restoration.
1872 First railway line between Tokyo and Yokohama.
1889 The Meiji Constitution is promulgated.
1894-95 Sino-Japanese War.
1904-05 Russo-Japanese War.
1910 Annexion of Korea.
1912 Death of emperor Meiji.


Kansei (Japanese: 寛政) was a Japanese era after Tenmei and before Kyōwa and spanned from 25 January 1789 to 5 February 1801. The reigning emperor was Kōkaku.

Change of era

Because of calamities such as a fire at the Imperial Palace, on the 25th day of the 1st month (old calendar) of Temmei 9 (1789), the era became Kansei ("tolerant/relaxed/broad-minded government").

Events of the Kansei Era






























TAISHO [1912-1926] Japan expands economic base within Asia and the Pacific.
Prospering businessmen support Liberal party government, broadening political participation. Universal manhood suffrage begun in 1925.

SHOWA [1926 -1989] Japan experiences World War II and its aftermath, as well as economic recovery.
Japan's liberal rulers replaced; military-run cabinets make imperialistic inroads in China. Manchuria taken over in 1931.
HEISEI (1989- ) Global issues foster debate.
In 1989 Prince Akihito succeeds to the throne. In1991 the gulf War ignites controversy over Japan's role in the international community. Should Japan strictly protect the "peace" constitution of 1947, a major cause of its prosperity? Or should it contribute troops as well as financial support to United Nations operations? In 1993, after Japanese troops are pulled out of a United Nations operation in Cambodia, the arguments go on: Should Japan become more internationally minded? Or should domestic peace and prosperity be the main priority?


Timeline section-Cited to

 Copyright ę 1995-2007 Asia Society


Mon (紋?)(plural mon), also monshō (紋章?), mondokoro (紋所?), and kamon (家紋?), are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual or family. While mon is encompassing term that may refer to any such device, kamon and mondokoro refer specifically to emblems used to identify a family. These devices are quite 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, which is another European heraldic device that mimics the mon in function.

ďmura: daimy˘ family of Hizen  Oda (I): daimy˘ family of Owari  Onodera: daimy˘ family of Dewa
Omura          Oda 1             Onodera

Looking at these three Mon it is hard to differentiate. However based on the image in the painting the centre of the Mon has a definite pattern that matches the Oda 1 Mon.

The top of the mon has a slightly smaller leaf than the Omura and is more like the Oda 1 or Onodera . The final area is the number of inner leafs and in the Oda 1 this is five while the Onodera is six.
Craig Coussins


Abe: Tokugawa retainer family Akagawa: M˘ri retainer family Akai: samurai family of Tamba Akamatsu: daimy˘ family of Mimasaka and Harima Akechi: Toki, Oda retainer family Aki: daimy˘ family of Tosa Akita: daimy˘ family of Dewa
Akiyama: Takeda retainer family Akizuki: daimy˘ family of Chikuzen Amako: daimy˘ family of Izumo Amakusa: samurai family of Hizen. Amano: M˘ri retainer family Ando: Oda, Tokugawa retainer family Araki: daimy˘ family of Settsu
Arima: daimy˘ family of Hizen Asahina: Imagawa, Takeda retainer family Asai: daimy˘ family of ďmi Asakura: daimy˘ family of Echizen Asano: Toyotomi, Tokugawa retainer family Ashikaga: sh˘guns of Japan to 1573 Ashina: daimy˘ family of Mutsu
Aso: daimy˘ family of Higo Atagi: Miyoshi, Oda retainer family Atobe: Takeda retainer family Baba (I): Takeda retainer family Baba (II): samurai family of SW Shinano Bessho: daimy˘ family of Harima Chiba: daimy˘ family, H˘j˘ retainer family of Shimosa
Baba I
Baba II
Chosokabe: daimy˘ family of Tosa Date: Daimy˘ family of Mutsu Doi: K˘no retainer family Fukushima: Toyotomi retainer family Gamo: Rokkaku, Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Goto: daimy˘ family of Hizen Hachisuka: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family
Hanabusa: Ukita retainer family Hara: Takeda retainer family Hatakeyama (I): daimy˘ family of Noto Hatakeyama (II): daimy˘ family of Kwatchi Hatano: daimy˘ family of Tamba Hineno: Toyotomi retainer family Hirate: Oda retainer family
Hatakeyama I
Hatakeyama II
Hisamatsu: Tokugawa retainer family Hisakari: samurai family of Satsuma H˘j˘:(I): regents for the Minamoto sh˘guns to 1333 (II): daimy˘ family of Izu and Sagami Honda: Tokugawa retainer family Hongo: Shimazu retainer family Hori: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Horio: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family
Horiuchi: daimy˘ family of Kii Hosokawa: Ashikaga, Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Ichij˘: daimy˘ family of Tosa Ii: Tokugawa retainer family Ijuin: Shimazu retainer family Ikeda (I): daimy˘ family of Settsu Ikeda (II): Oda, Toyotomi retainer family
Ikeda I
Ikeda II
Ikoma: Toyotomi retainer family Imagawa: daimy˘ family of Suruga


It is thought that mon originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership in a specific clan or organisation. By the twelfth century, sources give a clear indication that heraldry had been implemented as a distinguishing feature, especially for use in battle. It is seen on flags, tents and equipment.
Like European heraldry, mon were initially held only by aristocratic families, and were gradually adapted by commoners. On the battlefield, mon served as army standards, even though this usage was not universal and uniquely designed army standards were just as common as mon-based standards. (cf. sashimono, uma-jirushi) Mon were also adapted by various organizations, such as merchant and artisan guilds, temples and shrines, theatre troupes and even criminal gangs. In an illiterate society, they served as useful symbols for recognition.
Japanese traditional formal attire generally displays the mon of the wearer. Commoners without mon often used the mon of their patron or the organization they belonged to. In cases when none of those were available, they sometimes used one of the few mon which were seen as "vulgar", or invented or adapted whatever mon they wished, passing it on to their descendants. It was not uncommon for shops, and therefore shopowners, to develop mon to identify themselves.
Rules regulating the choice and use of mon were somewhat limited, though the selection of mon was generally determined by social customs. It was considered improper to use a mon that was known to be held by someone else, and offensive to use a mon that was held by someone of a high rank. When mon came into conflict, the lower-ranked person sometimes changed their mon to avoid offending their superior. The mon held by the ruling clans of Japan, such as Tokugawa's hollyhock mon and the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon, were legally protected from unauthorized usage.
Ina: Takeda, Tokugawa retainer family Inaba: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Inoue: M˘ri retainer family Irobe: Nagao, Uesugi retainer family Ishida: Asai, Toyotomi retainer family Ishikawa: Tokugawa retainer family Ishiki: daimy˘ family of Tango
Itami: daimyo family of Settsu Ito: daimy˘ family of Hyűga Jinbo: daimy˘ family of Etchű Jojo: Uesugi retainer family Kakizaki: Uesugi retainer family Kamei: Amako retainer family Kasai: daimy˘ family of Mutsu
Katakura: Date retainer family Kato: Toyotomi retainer family Kii: daimy˘ family of Buzen Kikkawa: M˘ri retainer family Kikuchi: daimy˘ family of Higo Kimotsuki: daimy˘ family of ďsumi/Shimazu vassal family Kimura: Toyotomi retainer family
Kiso: daimy˘ family of Shinano Kobayakawa: M˘ri, Toyotomi retainer family Koide: Toyotomi retainer family Ukita, Toyotomi retainer family Kono: daimy˘ family of Iyo Kűki: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Kunishi: M˘ri retainer family
Kuroda: Toyotomi, Tokugawa retainer family Kurushima: Kono, Toyotomi retainer Kusunoki: Southern Court loyalist family


There are no set rules in the design of a mon. It most commonly consists of a roundel encircling a figure of plant, animal, man-made, natural or celestial objects, all abstracted to various degrees. Religious symbols, geometric shapes and kanji were commonly used as well.
Similar to the blazon in European heraldry, mon are also named by the content of the design, even though there is no set rule for such names. Unlike in European heraldry, however, this "blazon" is not prescriptive - the depiction of a mon does not follow the name - instead the names only serve to describe the mon. The pictorial depictions of the mon are not formalized and small variations of what is supposed to be the same mon can sometimes be seen, but the designs are for the most part standardized through time and tradition.
The degree of variation tolerated differ from mon to mon as well. For example, the paulownia crest with 5-7-5 leaves is reserved for the prime minister, whereas paulownia with fewer leaves could be used by anyone. The imperial chrysanthemum also specifies 16 petals, whereas chrysanthemum with fewer petals are used by other lesser imperial family members.
Japanese heraldry does not have a cadency or quartering system, but it is not uncommon for cadet branches of a family to choose a slightly different mon from the senior branch. The princely families (Shinnōke), for example, each uses a modified chrysanthemum crest as their mon. Mon holders may also combine their mon with that of their patron, benefactor or spouse, sometimes creating increasingly complicated designs.
Mon are essentially monotone; the colour does not constitute part of the design and they may be drawn in any colour.

Ky˘goku: daimy˘ of ďmi/Toyotomi, Tokugawa retainer family Maeda: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Matsuda: H˘j˘ retainer family Matsukura: daimy˘ family of Yamato Matsumae (Kakizaki): daimy˘ family of Ezo Matsunaga: Miyoshi, Oda retainer family Matsuura: daimy˘ family of Hizen
Mikumo: Rokkaku retainer family Mimura: daimy˘ family of Bingo Minamoto: sh˘guns of Japan prior to the Ashikaga Miura: ďuchi retainer family Miyoshi: daimy˘ family of Settsu and Awa Mizuno: Tokugawa retainer family Mogami: daimy˘ family of Dewa
Moniwa: Date retainer family M˘ri: daimy˘ family of Aki Mori: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Murakami (I): daimy˘ family of Shinano Murakami (II): M˘ri retainer family Nabeshima: Ryűz˘ji,Toyotomi retainer family Nagano: samurai family of K˘zuke
Murakami I
Murakami II
Nagao: daimy˘ family of Echigo Naito (I): ďuchi retainer family Naito (II): Takeda retainer family Naito (III): Tokugawa retainer family retainer family Nakagawa: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Nakajo: uesugi retainer family Nanbu: daimy˘ family of Mutsu
Naito I
Naito II
Naito III
Naoe: Uesugi retainer family


Virtually all modern Japanese families have a mon, though modern usage is rare. Many Japanese may no longer recognize their own family's mon. On occasions when the use of mon is required, one can try to look it up in the temple registries of their ancestral hometown or consult one of the many genealogical publications available. Professional wedding planners, undertakers and other ritual masters may also offer guidance on finding the proper mon.
Mon can still be seen widely on stores and shops engaged in traditional crafts and specialities. They are favoured by sushi restaurants which often incorporate a mon into their logos, while mon designs can be seen on the ceramic roof tiles of older houses. Mon designs also frequently appear on senbei, sake, tofu, and other packaging for foodstuffs to lend them an air of elegance and refinement. The paulownia mon appears on the obverse side of the 500 yen coin.
Items symbolising family crafts, arts or professions were often chosen as a mon. A fan design might be chosen by a geisha. A woman may still wear her maiden mon if she wishes and pass them on to her daughters and does not have to adopt her husband's or father's mon.


Sait˘ (II): Uesugi retainer family Sakikabara: Tokugawa retainer family Sakai: Tokugawa retainer family Sakuma: oda retainer family Sanada: Takeda retainer/daimy˘ family of Shinano Sasa: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family Satake: daimy˘ family of Hitachi
Sait˘ II
Satomi: daimy˘ family of Awa Seki: Kitabatake retainer family Shiba: shűgo family of Owari Shibata: Oda retainer family Shibuya: samurai family of Satsuma Shimazu: daimy˘ family of Satsuma Mimura, M˘ri retainer family
Shisido: M˘ri retainer family Sh˘ni: daimy˘ family of Hizen Sigi: M˘ri retainer family S˘: daimy˘ family of Tsushima Soma: daimy˘ family of Mutsu Suda: daimy˘ family of Shinano Suganuma: Tokugawa retainer family
Suwa: daimy˘ family of Shinano Tachibana: ďtomo, Toyotomi retainer family Tada: Takeda retainer family Taira: Heian Period samurai clan Takahashi: ďtomo retainer family Takeda: daimy˘ family of Kai Takemata: Uesugi retainer family
Takenaka: Sait˘, Toyotomi retainer family Takigawa: Oda retainer family Takiyama: Oda, Toytomi retainer family


Logo of Mitsubishi ("three hishi", or water chestnuts), in the form of a mon
Mon add formality to a kimono. A kimono may have one or three or five mon. The mon themselves can be more or less formal; more formal kimono display more numerous mon, and frequently in a manner so as to make them stand out more. This may help dress up or dress down the formality of a kimono at the wearer's discretion. In the dress of the ruling class, the mon could be found on the kimono on both sides of the chest, on both sleeves, and in the middle of the back. On the armour, it could be found on the kabuto (helmet), on the do (cuirass), flags, and various other places. Mon could also be found on coffers, tents, fans, and many other items of importance.
As in the past, modern mon are not regulated by any law, with the exception of the imperial chrysanthemum, which doubles as the national emblem, and the paulownia, which is the mon of the office of prime minister and also serves as the emblem of the cabinet and the government. Some local governments, associations and businesses may use mon as their logo or trademark, and thus enjoy all the protection as such, but otherwise mon are not recognized by law. One of the best known examples of a corporate logo in the form of a mon is the logo for Mitsubishi, a name meaning "three water chestnuts", which are represented as rhombuse

Tanegashima: Shimazu retainer family Togashi: daimy˘ family of Kaga Togo: Shimazu retainer family Tokugawa: daimy˘ family of Mikawa/sh˘guns of Japan Torii: Tokugawa retainer family Toyotomi: Oda retainer/kanpaku family Tsuchimochi: samurai family of Hyűga
Tsugaru: daimy˘ family of Mutsu Tsutsui: daimy˘ family of Yamato Udono: Imagawa retainer family Uesugi: daimy˘ family of Echigo/Kanto region Ujiie: Sait˘, Oda retainer family Ukita: daimy˘ family of Bizen Urakami: daimy˘ family of Bizen
Usui: ďtomo retainer family Utsunomiya: daimy˘ family of Shimotsuke Wada: Ashikaga, Oda retainer family Yagyu: Tsutsui, Oda, Tokugawa retainer family Yamana: daimy˘ family of Inaba Yamamoto: Takeda retainer family Yamaouchi: Oda, Toyotomi retainer family
Yui: Imagawa retainer family Yűki: daimy˘ family of Shimosa


Narita: H˘j˘ retainer family Nasu: daimy˘ family of Shimotsuke Natsuka: Toyotomi retainer family Niiro: Shimazu retainer family Nitta: samurai family of K˘zuke Niwa: Oda retainer family Nukui: samurai family of Noto
Obata: samurai family of K˘zuke Obu: Takeda retainer family Oda (I): daimy˘ family of Owari Oda (II): daimy˘ family of Shimosa Odera: samurai family of Harima Ogasawara: daimy˘ family of Shinano/Tokugawa retainer family ďi: samurai family of Kai
Oda I
Oda II
Okubo: Tokugawa retainer family Okudaira: Tokugawa retainer family ďmura: daimy˘ family of Hizen Onodera: daimy˘ family of Dewa Ota: H˘j˘ retainer family ďtani: Toyotomi retainer family ďtomo: daimy˘ family of Bungo
ďuchi: daimy˘ family of Suo and Nagato Oyamada: Takeda retainer family Rokkaku (Sasaki): daimy˘ family of ďmi Rusu: Date retainer family Ryűz˘ji: daimy˘ family of Hizen Sagara: daimy˘ family of Higo Saigo: Imagawa, Tokugawa retainer family
Sait˘ (I): daimy˘ family of Mino