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Samurai Decals

Samurai heraldry is complicated, and much of what you’ll find, online or in books, comes from the Edo period or even later, rather than from the Sengoku period when banners were actually used in battle.

You can find lots of pictures of samurai re-enactors at modern festivals with non-period emblems on their banners, some of them rather fanciful. For instance it is apparently common to see re-enactors wearing sashimonos, or being accompanied by banners, with modern Japanese text spelling out the name of the character they are playing. Imagine an English Civil War re-enactment with someone walking around accompanied by someone waving a banner with “Prince Rupert of the Rhine” written on it, or an American Civil War battle with a general carrying a big “Stonewall Jackson” flag.

Sources, primary and secondary, sometimes contradict each other, and some families and individuals changed the symbols they used several times in the period. Often different branches of the same clan would use different heraldry. There were few fixed rules, but there were patterns of use.

The decals I have produced are a bit of a mixture. I’m confident that some of them are historically accurate, while others are perhaps best described as speculative. Sometimes I’ve been influenced the Rule of Cool – if presented with multiple options for a symbol I’ve gone with the one that looks coolest.

I’ve focussed on doing symbols that are appropriate for the late Sengoku period, roughly 1550 to 1615, In many cases I’ve relied on information from the Family Crest and Clans sections of the Samurai Archive, an online resource and discussion forum for people interested in Japanese history. Another major source has been the books of Stephen Turnbull, possibly the most respected English language writer on all things samurai.

Note that my decals are not true scale. If you just copy a symbol from a full size banner and reduce it to a size suitable for a 28mm figure it will not look right. The problem is even worse if you’re wargaming with very small figures such as the lovely 6mm ones sold by Bacchus. I’m happy to provide advice.

If historical accuracy is a major consideration when you paint your models or build forces for wargaming I suggest that you should do your own research and ensure that you satisfied with your choice. You may still find that some of my decals will help you. I have a page here on the website with a list of useful books and links to online resources. But if you’re looking for references with details of all the different banners used by a given force at a given battle you’ll be very lucky if you find them.

Below are some notes on the Japanese heraldic symbols I’ve made decals for. It is very much a work in progress but I’m aiming to provide a list of at least some of the clans that used, or could have used, the various symbols I sell on their banners. If you find any glaring inaccuracies please email and tell me.

A1 – Tokugawa

A2 – Otomo, Nabeshima

A3 – Honda

A4 – Naito

A5 – Toyotomi.

A6 – Saito

A7- Oda, Arima

A8 – Yagyu (1). There are lots of contradictory sources describing Yagyu mons. This is one of them, there’s another contrasting one below. Information on Yagyu heraldry seems to be particularly complicated.

A9 – Saito Dosan

A10 – Torii. Detailed discussion of Torri banners can be found here on the Samurai Archives website.

B1 – Date.

B2 – Yagyu (2) Another mon recorded as being used by the Yagyu clan.

B3 – Uesugi. Detailed discussion of Uesugi banners can be found here on the Samurai Archives website.

B4 – Rokkaku, Mori (Owari).

B5

B6

B9 -Yukyu, Ina

B10 – Shimazu There’s some detailed information on Shimazu clan banners here on the Samurai Archives website.

C1

C2

C3

C4 – Asano, Otani.

C5

C6 Oda (Hitachi).

C7 – Mori.

C8 Amako, Kyogoku.

C9 – Kamei, Sasa.

C10 – Shôni,

D1 – Hojo. There’s an excellent section on Hojo banners here on the Samurai Archives website. They would be a good choice of clan if you value historical accuracy in your wargames force.

D2 – Takeda.

D3 – Sanada. There’s some detailed information on Sanada banners here on the Samurai Archives website. Another good choice for people who want historical accuracy and one of my own forces for Test of Honour uses these decals. The Sanada Rokumonsen Kamon features six coins, the payment needed to cross a river on the way to the world after death. Basically the use of the symbol says that the bearer is ready for death in battle.

D4 – Ogasawara.

D5 – Atobe.

D6 – Ito.

D7 – Horio.

D8 – Takemata

D9Kato, Ishikawa.

D10 – Disc. Discs like this were sometimes used instead of clan mons on Sengoku period banners. It is fairly common to find them on Asigaru sashimonos for example. See the Samurai Heraldry Gallery thread on the Samurai Archives for numerous examples of their use.

E1 – Yamana.

E2 – Mogami, Matsumoto.

E3 – Jinbo (stripes vertical)

E5 – Ashina.

E7

E8

F1 – Takayama.

F2 – Hosokawa, Matsukara, Chiba, Ito.

F3 – Ii. The famous Ii “Red Devils” are recorded as using this mon on some of their Nobori, but don’t seem to have used it on sashimonos. See here in the Samurai Archives for more details.

F4 – Kakizaki. A Giant Radish. One of the more unusual choices for for samurai banners and well shown in a rather nice illustration by James Field which features in two or three books by Stephen Turnbull.

F5 Akechi

F7 – Hatakeyama

F8 – Hori

F9 – Ryozuji

F10 – Hara

G1 – Oda

G2 – Sakibara

G3 – Hosina

G4 – Ishida

G5 – Ukita

G6 – Murakami

G7 – Inoue

G8 – Wanatabe

G9 – Uesegi. The

G10 – Satake

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