Stablished in 1910, the company, Kyo-gen is one of the oldest surviving Japanese family crest business in Japan with Hatoba Shoryu as the third generation artisan. During the earlier times, some warriors preferred the design that represents victories such as the Omodaka (arrowhead) and dragonflies.
However, as the years go by many Japanese pay little attention to the details about the significance of their family crest. Also, because there are probably fewer people wearing a kimono these days, this makes it more difficult to appreciate the beauty of the painted kamon. Hence, there is a continuous decline in the industry of creating family crests. Add to that the fact that other people who used to be engaged in the kamon trade have switched into different businesses.
Hatoba-san of Kyo-gen is now one of a dying breed of Monshō Uwae Shi (family-crest painters and designers). “I’m an endangered species,” the Tokyo native concedes.
That’s because Japan is now on the verge of losing the tradition of making and preserving the ritual or everyday use of kamon (family crests) — which pretty much everyone in the nation once had. That’s despite the fact that its first known family crests date from the eighth century, when nobles at the Imperial court, and then samurai warriors, started using them as badges of identity or ownership.
Hatoba-san works and design together with his son Hatoba Yohji from their beautiful studio in Ueno, Tokyo.