Friday, December 16, 2011

Crookusai War Flags

Previously [1], I designed a kamon (家紋 "family crest") for my family—even though we're not Japanese. However, kamon-ka weren't the only heraldic banners used by Medieval Japanese clans. There were also small flags, called sashimono (指物 "pointer thing" or "indicator thing") that were attached to the backs of foot soldiers [2]; medium flags, called nobori (幟 "banner"), that indicated separate units of the army [3]; and uma-jirushi (馬印 "horse symbol" or "horse insignia") that identified the military commander.[4] I figured that since my family now has a kamon, we need some war banners, too.

As you can see, in contrast to the horizontal flags of Western Civilization, Japanese banners are usually vertical. The two small flags [5] on the left are sashimono. The first depicts a stylized root (brown) with leguminous root nodules (pink). This sashimono would be used by common soldiers [6] whereas the one depicting a clover leaf would be used by samurai (侍). The two tall flags are nobori. The one on the left says kurukkusai (i.e. the clan name, Crookusai). The one on the right has the kanji character for "bean" ( mame). The next two banners are uma-jirushi. Important families were allowed to have two, a ko uma-jirushi (left) and an ō uma-jirushi (right). The banner on the far right is another sashimono, this one intended for couriers.[7]


[1] See that post here.

[2] See If you've seen Kagemusha (影武者) or Ran (乱) by Akira Kurosawa, then you've seen shashimono on the backs of foot soldiers.

[3] See

[4] See

[5] While trying to figure out how big to make the different flags in comparison with each other, I found this website to be very helpful.

[6] Known as ashigaru (足軽 "light feet" i.e. "foot soldiers").

[7] Known as tsukai (使い "messenger", "courier"; also "envoy" or "ambassador").

1 comment:

  1. The Kanji character for bean(豆) looks like Charlie Brown when he is sad.

    And now I want some Edamame (枝豆).