三つ巴

14 Aug

Do you know the Chinese yin-yang symbol?

Chinese yin-yang

Chinese yin-yang

It’s meant to symbolize how opposites complete everything.

Life and death. Male and female. Good and evil. And so on.

Many people in the West think that that symbol is used in all of Asia.

But it’s Chinese.

Other Asian countries have similar ones, though.

In Korea, they use a similar symbol but without the two contrasting colored dots. And their symbol is usually red and blue.korean-yin_yang

This symbol is on the Korean flag.

Flag of South Korea.

Flag of South Korea.

In Japan, the closest symbol to these is the 「三つ巴」 (“Mitsudomoe“).

Japanese 三つ巴

Japanese 三つ巴

There’s also a less-common version with two tomoe like the Chinese and Korean ones above…but it’s still uniquely Japanese. It’s called 「二つ巴 (“Futatsudomoe“):

Japanese 二つ巴

Japanese 二つ巴

In Japan, the mitsudomoe is more common than the futatsudomoe. It’s often seen on 提灯 (Japanese paper lanterns) and 太鼓 (Taiko drums).

I took this photo of a 三つ巴 on a 提灯 (paper lantern) with my cell-phone.

I took this photo of a 三つ巴 on a 提灯 (paper lantern) with my cell-phone.

Japanese 太鼓 drum

Japanese 太鼓 drum

It also can be seen as a 家紋 (Japanese family crest).

Here are a few common 家紋 (Japanese family crests)…the mitsudomoe is amongst them:

家紋

家紋

Japanese appreciate simple and less-flashy designs. So, 家紋 (Japanese family crests) are much simpler than colorful European family crests.

A European family crest

A European family crest

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12 Responses to “三つ巴”

  1. BILLY FLORES June 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    wooooow!!! IM FROM MEXICO THANKS GREAT INFO IM JUST POSTING ON FB IVE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS INFO 2 HOURS THAKS YOU!!!

    Like

    • tokyo5 June 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      I’m glad that my site was helpful to you … but I’m disappointed that it took two hours to find it!

      Anyways, thanks for commenting.

      Like

  2. becomingjapanese August 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    I was doing some research and the chinese style “Yin-Yang” is called “Inyodo” in Japan.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

      The Chinese teachings of “Yin-Yang” are called 「陰陽道」 (which can be read as “Inyoudou” or “Onmyoudou“).

      The “Yin-Yang” symbol (which you have as your avatar) is called 「太極図」 (Taikyokuzu) in Japanese.

      Like

      • becomingjapanese August 20, 2009 at 12:37 am #

        Ahhh, thanks for elaborating!

        Like

      • tokyo5 August 20, 2009 at 1:24 am #

        Sure.

        And I just added a photo that I took today with my cell-phone of a 提灯 (Japanese paper lantern) with a 三つ巴 (mitsudomoe) on it.

        Like

  3. soysaucequeen August 15, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    Yeah…I remember Japanese family name has Kamon. but I already forgot mine…

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 15, 2009 at 1:07 am #

      You forgot what your family crest looks like?

      I know my wife’s 家紋 (family crest). (It’s not 三つ巴. 😉 )

      Like

  4. kim's scrapbook August 14, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    not knowing is okay – there are things we all do not know
    not knowing and thinking you do is unforgivable
    or not knowing and thinking you don’t have to know in order to have an opinion – that’s just arogant

    i really like that japanese symbol

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 14, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

      >not knowing (about other cultures) is okay…

      In this “Information Age“, I guess people will start learning more about other cultures in the world.

      >i really like that japanese symbol

      It’s popular.
      A member of the rock band “Rage Against The Machine” has two of them tattooed on his shoulders,
      and the bands Sepultura, Trivium, and others have used it on album covers.

      Like

  5. kim's scrapbook August 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm #

    oh wow – that is interesting
    the ignorance of the west with regards asia is really shocking me at the moment – and i include myself
    i get so cross when Europeans and Americans get countries in Africa mixed up or make some kind of homogenous soup of our cultures etc , and yet it is exactly what we (westerns) do to ‘the east’

    the japanese symbol is very pretty – but does it mean the same as the yin yang one? cos the blanace between white and black is not even.

    Like

    • tokyo5 August 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

      >the ignorance of the west with regards asia

      People in countries that are far apart usually don’t know much about each other. And there are often misconceptions.

      I’ll be honest. I don’t know very much at all about Africa.

      >the japanese symbol is very pretty

      I think it’s the coolest one.

      >but does it mean the same as the yin yang one?

      No. The one with three parts is meant to symbolize earth, sky, and man.
      The one with two represents earth and sky.
      The Korean one is similar to the Chinese one…but I believe it’s parts represent earth and sky, as well.

      Like

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