Coin (Zeni)

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

Six coins for Sanada family
(Rokurensen)
Nien coins for Hasebe family Wave coin
(4 mon-sen)
Eiraku coin
(Eiraku-tsuho)
Kan-ei coin
(Kan-ei-tsuho)


Some of the coins portrayed in kamon have kanji characters written on them, and others do not. Of those with characters, Kan-ei-tsuho (of Japanese origin), Sei-wa-tsuho and Eiraku-tsuho ( both of Chinese origin) are common examples. It is likely that they were used as motifs for family crests for their auspicious symbolism, because the characters on the coins had lucky meaning.

For those without any wring, any number of coins from one to six were commonly depicted, although sometimes as many as nine were shown. Kamon depicting more than six coins are called rensen (a series of coins). These designs seem to have been chosen for their religious meaning.

Rokurensen is a special design in which six blank coins are arranged in two rows of three, and this pattern represents rokudo, the six worlds of Buddhism. The six worlds are: hell, the world of starvation, the world of animality, Asura (the world of constant war), the human world, and the world of joy. When a dead person starts on a journey to the next world, six coins are put in the coffin as the fare for crossing the Sanzu River (comparable to the River Styx in Greek mythology). The coins may also have been placed in hopes that Jizoson, or Ksitigarbha, would save all beings in all the six worlds. (From 'Family Crests of Japan' ICG Muse, Inc.2001)


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