I became interested in my Japanese family's kamon and history after both my parents passed away about 15 years ago and I realized that our family history would be lost forever after their generation. As a first-generation Japanese American with children who do not know any Japanese, I wanted to make sure that the ties to their Japanese roots were not lost.
So I started my research into Japanese family kamon and names, and also reached out to my aunt, the last remaining sibling on my mother's side, for any information. I was very grateful to learn that she had saved very precious photographs and letters from generations ago in the hopes that our generation would preserve the information for the future.
What resulted was not only a family tree encompassing a total of 8 generations, but also the discovery of a document outlining the lives, loves and conflicts of some of my ancestors on the family farm in Yamaguchi.
I also discovered the beautiful kamon of a butterfly that was my mother's female mon, which serves as my logo. I was also further astounded by the sophistication of design of all the various kamon, which are very historical but also very contemporary in their appeal. (For example, did you know that the corporate logosfor Mitsubishi and Kikkoman are also the kamon of the founders of the companies?)
I hope that you will also be encouraged to research and preserve your own Japanese family history and heritage. Please let me know if you would like me to assist you by searching for information for kamon which may have been used by your family.
This is the first page of the written family history as preserved by my mother's side of the family for 5 generations.
It tells the story of a prodigal brother who left the ancestral village in Okayama Prefecture to marry into a wealthy family (as an adopted son/groom), but missed his family so much that he had the marriage annulled and returned to the family farm, begging for any scrap of land that he could cultivate.
The older brother gave him some land that he considered worthless, but the younger brother managed to not only survive but also prosper on his small farm, enough to support a second wife and many children. His success and prestige in the village was so envied by his neighbors that many of them changed their last names to be the same as his, "Imoto", and it remains a common family name to this day.
This famiy tree represents 9 generations of my family on my mother's side.