Kikuka-monshoKikka-monsho (crest of Chrysanthemum) (菊花紋章)
Kikuka-monsho/Kikka-monsho is a crest modeled on the Chrysanthemum blossom. It is also simply called Kikumon, or Kikukamon/Kikkamon (in a corruption) to distinguish it from Kikunoha (crest of Chrysanthemum's leaves) which is also classified as Kikumon. There are more than 156 types.
It is supposed that a chrysanthemum had been introduced into Japan at the end of Nara period from China in Tang as a herb, and was used for ornamental purpose later. It was written about in literature for the first time in Kokinwakashu (Collection of Ancient and Modern poetry) and in The Tale of Genji. In the Heian period, September on the Chinese lunar calendar was called Kiku-zuki (the month of the Chrysanthemum), and people set September 9 for the 'Chrysanthemum Festival' and cerebrated it to remove evil and pray for longevity by drinking Kikuka-shu (liquor made from Chrysanthemum, rice and millet, etc.) in 'Kikuka no en' (the feast to viewing Chrysanthemums held in the Imperial Court) with 'Kikuka no sakazuki' (drink cup of the feast of "Kikka no en"). The Chrysanthemum motif was preferably used for Shozoku (costume) as an auspicious omen motif.
During the Kamakura period, Emperor Gotoba was especially fond of the Chrysanthemum, and used it regularly as his symbol. Then, Emperor Gofukakusa, Emperor Kameyama, and Emperor Gouda inherited it as their own symbol, and the Kikkamon (crest of Chrysanthemum), especially Juroku Yae Omotekiku (eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals facing up), became a regular customary crest of Emperors/the Imperial family.
During the Edo period, the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) permitted free use of the design in contrast to Mitsuba-aoi (Hollyhock with three leaves), and it spread amongst the general populace; Japanese confectionery and kazari-kanagu (decorative metal fixtures) of Buddhist alter articles with this design were made and spread throughout Japan.
A variety of Kikkamon was designed from long ago as the crest of Samurai or samurai families, or trademark of shops; there are also a lot of variants. There are a variety of designs: Jukiku (Chrysanthemum with ten petals) and Junikiku (Chrysanthemum with twelve petals) classified according to its number of petals, Urakiku which shows calyx at the center, Kage-kiku with spaces in the outline, Hishikiku, the square-shaped Chrysanthemum, Korin-kiku, the Chrysanthemum designed by Korin OGATA, Wari-giku or Hangiku, the halved Chrysanthemum, and Kikusui which is Hangiku with water flowing under the flower.
To describe the name of Kikumon, the flower, for example, with ten petals is called Jukiku. The design with twelve petals is called Junikiku, and with sixteen petals Jurokugiku. The design of Chrysanthemum in layers is called -fold Chrysanthemums (e.g. eightfold/ninefold). The Chrysanthemum facing up is called Omotegiku; however, it is normally described as - (number of petals) Chrysanthemum, and the Chrysanthemum facing down is particularly called Uragiku. The eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals facing down is called Juroku-yae-urakiku. There are no special rules: the designs are described differently in each type of literature, and the crests of the imperial families are indicated in details with the number of petals and the unit of petals and leaves (e.g. sixteen petals (edict of Dajokan (Grand Council of state)/Jurokuyo (sixteen leaves (Koshitsurei (the Imperial Families' Act)).
Kikumon of the imperial families
Among the designs of Kikumon, Juroku-yaegiku (eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals) (Jurokuben-yaeomotegiku, eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals facing up/Jurokuyo-yaeomotegiku, eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen leaves facing up) whereby the designed yaegiku (eightfold Chrysanthemum) represents the Japanese emperor and empress. They are commonly called "the Chrysanthemum Throne." The use of this design for the other members of Imperial family including the Imperial Prince was restricted by the declaration of Dajokan, Grand Council of state, issued in 1869; each Imperial family uses their uniquely modified designs of Jushi-urakiku (Chrysanthemum with fourteen petals facing down) or Juroku-urakiku (Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals facing down) (e.g. the Arisugawanomiya family/the Fushiminomiya family) or the design of downsized Juroku-yaegiku (eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals) (e.g. the Chichibunomiya family/the Mikasanomiya family/the Kuninomiya family).
The prewar period
The design of Juroku-yaegiku (eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen petals) was officially designated as the crest of the Imperial family by the declaration of Dajokan (Grand Council of state)/Dajokantatsu dai 802 go (No. 802 of the transmittal of Dajokan) issued on September 30, 1869. The declaration banned the use of Jurokuyo (the design with sixteen leaves) as Kikkamon of the family of Imperial Prince, and decided to replace the design with less number of petals such as Jushiyo (the design with fourteen leaves)/Jugoyo (the design with fifteen leaves) or Urakiku (the design facing down). Moreover, the use of Kikkamon by the family other than the Imperial family was banned by the declaration of Dajokan (Grand Council of state) no. 285 issued on August 3, 1871, and Jushiyo-hitoe-urakiku (Chrysanthemum with onefold blossom facing down and fourteen leaves) was defined as a model of the crest of the imperial family in declaration no. 286.
Later, Article 12 of Koshitsu Giseirei (the act that sets the ceremonies of the Imperial Court, crests of Imperial family, banners, seating arrangements in Imperial ceremonies, etc.) (Taisho 15 nen Koshitsurei Dai 7 go - No. 7 of the Imperial family's Act in 1926) enacted in 1926 defined that 'the crest of the emperor, grand empress dowager, queen mother, empress, crown prince, crown princess, son of the crown prince, and daughter of the crown prince shall be Jurokuyo-yaegiku-omotekikugata (eightfold Chrysanthemum with sixteen leaves facing up),' and Article 13 of the act officially specified as 'the crest of the Imperial Prince, Imperial Princess, Imperial or Royal princess, king, princess, and queen shall be Jushiyo-hitoe-urakiku (Chrysanthemum with onefold blossom facing down and fourteen leaves).'
The declaration of Dajokan no. 195 issued on May 2, 1867 banned drawing Kikumon on Chochin (Japanese paper lantern)/pottery/tribute, and all the designs of Kikumon which had been used at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines were also prohibited to be used except for some temples and shrines by the declaration of Dajokan no. 803 issued on September 30, 1869. Then the use of Kikumon for the decoration of shrine pavilions, curtain/Chochin (Japanese paper lantern) was gradually permitted, and it was allowed to be used for general temples and shrines as the decoration of temples and Buddhist temples by Dajokantatsu dai 23 go (No. 23 of the transmittal of Dajokan - Grand Council of state) issued on May 22, 1879.
The Chrysanthemum became the nickname of the Imperial family because of the use of Kikuka-monsho, and there was a popular song which said 'the Chrysanthemum blossoms, the hollyhock dies' at the end of the Edo period. The Chrysanthemum was impressed at the bow of the military ship of the navy of Empire of Japan and on all the gunyo-shoju (army rifles) produced after Murataju (rifle developed by Tsuneyoshi MURATA) of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The postwar period
To this day, you can see a Kikuka-monsho at the entrance of Japanese diplomatic missions abroad as the national emblem. Besides, Jurokugiku, designed based upon Kikumon, is used on the front cover of a passport issued by the Japanese government. The badge of the National Diet members applies the design of Juichikiku (Chrysanthemum with eleven petals). The emblem of Jimin-to (The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan) also uses Juyon-kagegiku (Chrysanthemum with fourteen petals facing down) placing the letters of "Jimin" at its center. Chrysanthemum is treated like a national flower the same as sakura (Japanese cherry); Kikkamon is also used for Kunsho Nihon no Isho (the Decorations, Japanese Designs). Treated like the national emblem of Japan and legally handled similarly as the national flag, you cannot register a trademark in a similar design (Article 4.1.1, Trademark Act). The Order of the Rising Sun (Keisatsu-sho, police design) is an emblem of the chamber (regulation by Minor Offense Act) so that you cannot use it; there are some examples of detectives using the design of Kikukamon as a symbol of their company to represent the authority.