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Hagakure mon, Hazmat Symbol?

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  • Hagakure mon, Hazmat Symbol?

    Hey all,
    I was on amazon last night looking to buy some books and searched Hagakure and noticed the mon on the front cover is the same as the hazmat symbol,
    I'm right certain the mon was developed before the hazmat symbol, but can someone shed some light on why they are the same? or is it just some uncanny coincidence.


  • #2
    Maybe the publisher wants to say something about the content ?

    This page shows several different "kamon" used on the English cover. As far as I have seen (which admittedly isn't much), the Japanese covers do not show any kamon.

    I somehow suspect it's simply a matter of graphic design choice rather than an informed historic reference (but I don't know for sure). The three crane design looks similar to the HazMat symbol. Someone who was a fan of Ghost Dog seems to have looked into it and concluded the same here.

    As mentioned in the above link, Yamamoto Tsunetomo was a retainer to the Nabeshima clan of Hizen domain (today Saga Prefecture and most of Nagasaki Prefecture). Their kamon looks like this.

    I would treat design elements on English translations of Eastern works popular for their "spiritualism" or "wisdom" with a huge grain of salt. The publishers sell more by fulfilling our Western ideas of what Eastern wisdom should look like. Their audience goes beyond budoka/zazen-practitioner/yoga-practitioner who are wiser (sometimes) to these things.
    Last edited by dillon; 30th April 2012, 09:53 AM.


    • #3
      The mon on the Hagakure cover is "Mitsu Dai no ji" (Three of the character for "big"). It's primarily associated with the kabuki actor Bandō Mitsugorō (all 15 of him).

      Per a sourced section of Wikipedia,
      The biohazard symbol was developed by the Dow Chemical Company in 1966 for their containment products.[1] According to Charles Baldwin,[1] an environmental-health engineer who contributed to its development: "We wanted something that was memorable but meaningless, so we could educate people as to what it means." In an article in Science in 1967, the symbol was presented as the new standard for all biological hazards ("biohazards"). The article explained that over 40 symbols were drawn up by Dow artists, and all of the symbols investigated had to meet a number of criteria: "(i) striking in form in order to draw immediate attention; (ii) unique and unambiguous, in order not to be confused with symbols used for other purposes; (iii) quickly recognizable and easily recalled; (iv) easily stenciled; (v) symmetrical, in order to appear identical from all angles of approach; and (vi) acceptable to groups of varying ethnic backgrounds." The chosen scored the best on nationwide testing for memorability.[4]
      It's possible that Baldwin once saw the kamon and subconsciously recreated it among the many candidates he designed, but there's no explicit connection. Like dillon, I imagine the publishers chose the mon for similar reasons as Baldwin's biohazard design was chosen: striking and attention getting.


      • #4
        That's the paperback. The hardcover uses a different mon... Just goes to show you wear appropriate protection when engaging in sword arts.


        • #5
          I'm trying to imagine what I would have thought prior to learning this had I seen formal event in which someone was wearing this mon,
          for some reason the idea of a bio hazardous kimono is amusing.