Godaimon (The five major family crests in Japan) (五大紋)
Godaion refers to the five family crest designs that are especially widely used throughout Japan, and they are fuji (wisteria), kiri (paulownia), takanoha (feathers of hawks), mokko (cross-section of a gourd), and katabami (yellow sorrel).
It is unknown when and who designated these designs as the five major crests, and on what criteria the designation was based. In addition to these, five more crest designs, tsuta (ivy), myoga (a type of ginger), omodaka (arrowhead), tachibana (mandarin orange tree) and kashiwa (oak), make up Judaimon (the ten major family crests in Japan).
According to data presented by Japan Family Crest Research Institute, the most commonly used family crest, on national average, is "katabami-mon" (about 9%), and the least commonly used crest is "kiri-mon" (about 5%) among the five major family crests. Incidentally, based on the national average from the survey conducted by Japan Family Crest Research Institute, family crest designs can be listed from the most commonly used to the least commonly used as: katabami, mokko, takanoha, kashiwa, fuji, kiri, tsuta, ume (Japanese plum), tachibana, then meyui (kanoko (dappled pattern)).
A website named "Seven thousand Japanese family names" provides "a list of representative family crests by prefecture," in which about ten most widely used family crests in each prefecture are chosen and shown in a table. According to the list, fuji, kiri, takanoha, mokko, and katabami are all ranked as "representative family crests" in more than half of the 46 prefectures.
Characteristics of Godaimon
The reasons why these five family crests are especially widely used are listed below.
Fuji (Wisteria (plant))
Fuji-mon is a pattern of wisteria flowers and leaves. While fuji-mon design is widely used in general households, it is said that only seven (out of 97) families of the Fujiwara clan lineage use them.
Many families of the Fujiwara clan lineage, whose family names include the letter '藤' (such as Sato, Kato, Saito), use the fuji-mon design. Many families with "Sato" as their family names use genjiguruma (a cartwheel of a cattle-drawn carriage)-mon rather than fuji-mon.
Kiri-mon (paulownia designs)
Kiri-mon is a design made of paulownia flowers and leaves. Along with the Imperial Crest of the Chrysanthemum, it is the family crest which was used by the Imperial family.
Gradually, kiri-mon was given from the Emperor to the shogun family as an imperial gift, and then from the shogun family to the vassals. It became widely popular among people from meika (court nobles, important or distinguished families) to commoners, and today, it is prevalent as a relatively popular family crest.
Takanoha is a design of hawk feathers. There are several designs in which feathers are arranged side by side or two feathers cross each other. During the Edo period, takanoha-mon was popular among samurai.
There are several opinions and theories about what mokko-mon designs are based on, such as a theory that suggests that mokko-mon is a design of a cross-section of a gourd or the gourd itself, and an opinion that suggests that mokko-mon is a design of a bird's nest.
Katabami (sakusho-so)-mon is a design of yellow sorrel flowers, and as a crest, whose design is based on plants, it became the second most popular crest after kiri-mon (paulownia design). Ktabami-mon is widely used by the general public as family crests, because it symbolizes their hopes for fertility and family prosperity.