Umajirushi (commanders battle standard) (馬印)

This term is written as 馬印, 馬標, or 馬験 in Japanese. From the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) through the Edo period, Japanese military commanders attached this type of symbols to their camp flags or they placed the symbols around themselves in order that they could show their positions and/or their majesties. This section also describes hatajirushi (emblems on flags) which was the prototype of umajirushi and was used in a similar way to umajirushi.

Before umajirushi appeared, part of a banner or a shihan-bata (samurai flag) was changed to another unique design and placed around a general. Subsequently, umajirushi in various shapes, not only in a flag shape, were developed with various materials, and these umajirushi became popular. The following two documents mentioned the origin of umajirushi.

The "Nobunaga-ki" (Record of Nobunaga) says, 'There had not been the term "umajirushi" until the Eiroku era (from 1558 to 1570), and then some symbols were gradually developed from the Genki era (from 1570 to 1573) and now they are used as a main symbol,' in the Section 15: Umajirushi.

According to the "Koyo Gunkan" (record of the military exploits of the Takeda family), the first umajirushi was a gold lantern used as a second matoi (military flag) by a vassal of Ujiyasu HOJYO named Daidoji, and he obtained this lantern by defeating his enemy named Ominokami HONMA and taking his sashimono (standard for identification used on a battlefield). This occurred at the Kawagoe Yoikusa (Night Battle of Kawagoe) of 1546, and this description is inconsistent with the description of the Nobunaga-ki.

Traditional ones which were in a flag shape were called hatajirushi and others which were not in a flag shape were regarded as umajirushi, and in later years, o-umajirushi (large umajirushi) were distinguished from ko-umajirushi (small umajirushi); additionally, hatajirushi whose size was equivalent to o-umajirushi were called matoi. An o-umajirushi and a matoi which respectively represented a commander (samurai general) and his lord were placed around a banner (either an o-umajirushi or a matoi, or both an o-umajirushi and a matoi should be placed) in their camp, and a ko-umajirushi was placed near the commander to display his majesty and position.

Likewise, some samurai changed their sashimono attached on their backs to their own design so that they could display their achievement individually. When such samurai were promoted and became military commanders, some of them continued to use their sashimono as their umajirushi.

Umajirushi and hatajirushi of famous samurai warriors
Shingen TAKEDA
Hatajirushi: A flag of Sonshi (also known as a flag of Fu-Rin-Ka-Zan which literally means "Wind, Forest, Fire, and Mountain," which was the motto of the feudal lord Shingen TAKEDA, quoted from Sonshi (Chinese books about tactics), meaning "swift as the wind, quiet as a wood, fierce as fire, and immovable as a mountain."), a flag of Suwa Myojin (The Suwa Deity)
Kenshin UESUGI
Hatajirushi: A flag of Bishamonten (guardian god of Buddhism), a flag of midare-ryu (calligraphy of the Chinese character "龍," which means a dragon, in a simplified form)
Umajirushi: A navy-blue fan with a cinnabar red circle
Nobunaga ODA
Umajirushi: A gold-colored bamboo-and-paper umbrella
Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI
Ko-umajirushi: A gold upside-down gourd with a gold kirisaki (a cloth whose hem is ripped)
O-umajirushi: A gold fan with a cinnabar red streamer
Katsuie SHIBATA
Umajirushi: A gold gohei (a wand tipped with strips of paper)
Terumoto MORI
Umajirushi: Bird feathers under a white camel
Masamune DATE
Hatajirushi: A black large-sized shihan (a flag at two by three ratio), a decoration made of bird feathers
Umajirushi: A black two-tier bird feather hats, a decoration made of bird feathers
Naomasa II
Umajirushi: A gold flytrap
Matoi: A gold diamond-shaped figure on a red background
Ieyasu TOKUGAWA (refer to the section of Umajirushi of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA for further details)
Ko-umajirushi: A gold gourd with a gold kirisaki, and a silver kuri-hangetsu (crescent-shaped moon)
O-umajirushi: A gold fan
Hatajirushi: A flag with the Chinese characters "厭離穢土欣求浄土" (leaving a corrupted country for the Pure Land)
Narimasa SASSA
Umajirushi: Three-tier hats (three layers of hats with a bar passed through)
Mitsunari ISHIDA
Umajirushi: A gold streamer and a gold fan with kuyo-mon (a family crest representing nine stars)