Paulownia (Kiri)

These family crests (In Japanese, KAMON) are called 'Kiri Mon' in JAPAN.

Paulownia crests
All shadowed paulownia with 5&3 blooms Shadowed paulownia with 5&3 blooms Paulownia with 5&3 blooms Paulownia with 5&3 blooms in circle Paulownia with 5&7 blooms
Bisected crane-shaped paulownias Bat-shaped paulownia Paulownia branch circle Trisected paulownias with 5&3 blooms Three paulownia blooms heads facing outward
Bisected paulownias with 5&7 blooms Taiko paulownia Paulownia with 5&3 blooms in rice cake Pointed-leaf Paulownia with 5&3 blooms in rice cake Paulownia with 5&7 blooms in rice cake

A deciduous tree of the figwort family, the paulownia has light purple flowers that bloom around May. Its wood is light and easy to work with, so it is a popular material for furniture such as chests.

Paulownia crests are used because they are a symbol of good fortune. In ancient China, paulownias were considered to be lucky trees where phoenixes lived. In the Chinese poetry collection, Anthology of Bai Juyi, there is a poem in which a phoenix lives in the high branches fo a blooming paulownia and sings, 'Long live the king!' It is for this reason that paulownia patterns came to be used for the Emperor's garments, and later as crests, at the end of the Kamakura Period.

The Imperial Court bestowed the crests to retainers such as Ashikaga Takauji, and later the Ashikagas granted them to vassals who had performed meritorious deeds, such as Oda Nobunaga. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who had also been allowed to use paulownia crests, distributed them so often that even people to whom they had not been given started using them. Though Hideyoshi prohibited the use of both chrysanthemum and paulownia crests, the ban had little effect and quite a number of daimyo were using these patterns during the Edo Period. Tokugawa Ieyasu was another who was granted the use of this popular crest, but he refused it and used a hollyhock design instead. (From 'Family Crests of Japan' ICG Muse, Inc.2001)

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