JAPANESE HERALDRY PART 2
The differences between the Japanese method of heraldry and that of the West are numerous and profound. Perhaps the most striking is the tremendous simplicity compared to heraldic devices in the West. Mons are always monochromatic, being a metal or colour on the contrasting background. In addition, as cadency was not used in Japanese heraldry, the emphasis on each mon being distinctly different was not as much an issue as in the west.
A. Single charge element without enclosure
These are the simplest of Mon, having only a single charge element and no enclosure.
The annulet is by far the most common enclosure, but the voided hexagon (called a kikko) is another rather popular enclosure.
C. Multiple charge elements without an enclosure
A few things to note here. The primary orientation for multiple charge elements in a group is that of radial symmetry, normally with the elements being conjoined as in the first example. Secondly, when there are an odd number of charge elements, the orientation is almost always ‘point up’. Thus, a group of three elements would read 1 and 2, a group of five elements would read 1, 2 and 2. There appears to be no default for groups of two elements, with in fess, saltire and pale all being common enough.
D. Multiple charge elements with an enclosure
1. Mon are restricted to one color and one metal, either one being the field and the other the charges.
2. Mon normally consist of a single charge or charge group
3. The primary (or default) orientation for a charge group containing more than one charge is radial symmetry
4. When there are an odd number of charge elements in a group, the default grouping is with the ‘odd’ element being placed to chief (1,2 or 1,2,2 or 1,3,1).
5. Mon are most often (but not required to be) surrounded by an enclosure, which is usually an annulet.
The general emphasis is on simplicity and symmetry of design