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How to draw Kamon, the traditional family emblems of Japan

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Kamon are Japanese family crests—Ka meaning ‘family’ and Mon meaning ‘symbol’ or ’emblem.’ The unique designs, which originate from familiar motifs found throughout Japan, are created with precise circles and straight lines.

Third-generation artisan Shoryu Hatoba demonstrates this discipline in the video above, the first in a series of UWAEMON tutorial demonstrations. The featured crest, a Katabami or wood sorrel, is an ancient design.

Hatoba, who has been featured in NHK’s Peabody Award-winning Design Ah! educational program, encourages all ages to download the free template and draw along with the video. You’ll need a pencil, a compass, and a ruler.

measuring with the template
While the basic structure of a mon is simple, the designs can be highly-detailed and complex. Not only do families have their own Kamon crest, but mon can be found on shops, restaurants, packaging, buildings, and more. The Imperial Kamon, a chrysanthemum flower, is on Japanese passports.

Do You Know Japan shares examples of these highly-detailed emblems, explaining that there are likely “more than 20,000 distinct individual Kamon in Japan.”

Shoryu Hatoba
In the sixth tutorial in the series, Hatoba demonstrates how to draw a Kumaizasa mon, a depiction of the strong, prolific, and useful bamboo plant. The symbol represents “hopes of longevity and prosperity for the family.”

kumaizasa design

Find the template here, and learn with the complete series of ten video tutorials.

Then watch more drawing and made in Japan videos on TKSST, including:
The art of suminagashi or Japanese paper marbling
Making a traditional Japanese wooden Kokeshi Doll
Learn how to draw Totoro in one minute
• Motoi Yamamoto’s intricate, temporary salt installations
• Hisako Koyama, the woman who stared at the sun

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