Alma Sato

Alma P. Fatagani-Sato

Kamon  (Japanese  Family Crest)

Japanese family crests, known as Kamon, originated more than a millennium ago and were initially utilized exclusively by the aristocrats. However, as time passed, these distinctive emblems became widely embraced by samurais, merchants, and various other social classes. These intricate symbols effectively conveyed the social standing and lineage of individuals and their respective families.

Kamon, consists of two parts:  “Ka” represents one’s lineage, encompassing the broader context of the family tree, while “mon” stands for a crest or a symbol.

During the Heian Period (794–1185), the aristocracy had a fixed hierarchy based on status. Family crests were added to the carriages to clearly convey this sign of status.

At some point, crests also started appearing on clothing and being used by the bushi warrior class.

During the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), when there were many wars raging, the samurai used it widely as a mark to identify them & confirm their achievements and distinguish friend from foe in the battlefield.

At the start of the Muromachi Period (1333–1568), there were cases of common people using kamon, such as merchants putting crests on their shop signboards, which then became family crests. Eventually, kabuki actors adopted them, too.

During the Edo Period (1603–1868), Japan was a hierarchical society of samurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants and Kamon were used as a means of indicating the social status of your family to others and determining the social standing and lineage of others. 

It was from this period onward, common people were given permission to choose their own family crests for use, with the exception of the “kikumon” (chrysanthemum crest) belonging to the imperial family and the “aoimon” (hollyhock crest) of the Tokugawa clan.

During the Meiji Period (1868–1912), the use of family crests had become firmly established among the general public. Due to modernization, the class system was abolished and everybody needs to use a family name. As such, everyone can choose their family crest, with the above-mentioned exceptions.

The main categories for the symbols used in Kamon are animals, plants, nature, buildings and vehicles, and receptacles and patterns.

Nowadays, the Kamon is still used practically everywhere, shop signboards, tombstones, especially on Japanese traditional kimono (Tomesode for women & Montsuki Hakama for men) worn during formal social gatherings.  

Alma P. Fatagani-Sato

Japanese  Autumn

Autumn, my favorite season of the year, follows the incredibly humid and scorching Japanese Summer. From mid-September to November, enjoy the wonderful sight of bright fall leaves dancing on the trees as a mild, cool wind touches your skin, surrounding you in a serene ambiance.  There are plenty additional alternatives worth mentioning in addition to the delicious cuisine offered, such as persimmons, matsutake mushrooms, figs, and gingko nuts.  

There are so many events hosted all around Japan in the summer. However, autumn also offers a variety of festivals and events that you could appreciate, such as the following:

Takayama Hachiman Festival 

You may watch a parade of floats decked with marionettes from the Edo era at the Takayama Hachiman Festival in Gifu Prefecture on October 9th and 10th.

Tori no Ichi Festival  

Businessmen and women purchase kumade (bamboo rakes) for use as decorations at business premises and pray for prosperity in their businesses during the Tori no Ichi Festival, which is observed in temples and shrines around Japan on November 11th and 23rd.

Danjiri Matsuri 

The Danjiri Matsuri, taking place from September 15th to 17th in Kishiwada, a town near Osaka, is an exhilarating festival that involves teams from the local neighborhood engaging in a thrilling race with wooden floats. This heart-pounding event is all about having fun, but be warned; things can get quite intense and even a bit raucous.


Every year on October 31st, Halloween takes over Shibuya with a spectacular parade of people decked out in elaborate costumes, creating a vibrant spectacle that was not as popular before 2010.


On November 15th, known as Shichi-go-san, you may observe very young boys (aged 5) and girls (aged 7 and 3) dressed in traditional Japanese garb. This is done to honor the children's development and to wish them health and longevity.

There are also red calendar days during autumn:

Every 3rd Monday of Sep – Respect for the Aged Day, usually the family members give gifts to their elderly members.

Sep 23rd – Autumnal Equinox (day and night are of equal length, the date is different every year)

Every 2nd Monday of Oct – Health & Sports Day

Nov 3rd – Culture Day

Nov 23rd – Labor Thanksgiving Day

Japan's autumn season offers a wide variety of tasty foods to sample as well as several fun festivals and activities. Have a wonderful time!


Nattō (Fermented soy beans)

By: Alma P. Fatagani-Sato 

Nattō is a traditional Japanese food made from whole soybeans that have been fermented with Bacillus subtilis .  It is often served as a breakfast food with rice.  It is also served with Japanese mustard (karashi), soy or some sauce (tare), and sometimes Japanese onion leeks.


Within Japan, nattō is most popular in the eastern regions, including Kantō, Tōhoku, and Hokkaido.  However, in some areas of the Japan, like the Kansai region, most people dislike it because of its powerful pungent smell (similar to an aged cheese), strong flavor, and sticky, slimy texture.


By improving the soybean and nattō bacillus varieties, the smell and stickiness are reduced, developing variations like, dried nattō, fried nattō and another type of fermented soybeans called "Mamenoka”, making it easier to eat for those who dislike its smell and texture.


Nattō is considered to be a very healthy and nutritious food.  It contains fiber, probiotics, calcium, vitamin K2 and nattōkinase.


The combination of these may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and decrease the risk of heart disease, resulting to a healthier heart.  It also helps your body absorb the nutrients that it contains. The probiotics can act as your digestive system’s first line of defense against toxins and harmful bacteria.  The calcium and vitamin K2, both contribute to healthier and stronger bones. The fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels.


Nattōkinase, a type of enzyme produced during fermentation, helps dissolve blood clots. It is in the “stringy portion” of nattō. These sticky stringy portions are produced by stirring.  The more you stir, more strings are produced.


However, people who take medicine for Thrombosis should not eat nattō since it has some conflict with the said medication and may cause non-stop bleeding.


Nattō is frequently eaten as, nattō on rice (nattō gohan).  But, there are so many ways to eat it.  Nattō is occasionally used in other foods, such as nattō sushi (nattōmaki),  nattō toast, tamagoyaki, salad, as an ingredient in okonomiyaki and in miso soup, chahan, or even with spaghetti