In old Japanese heraldry
, this was the insignia
on the standard
for the Shimazu family
and the feudal Edo period
. The crest is a circle with the chinese character for "ten", which is like a cross or plus sign, in the middle.
The Shimazu clan ruled Satsuma province (present day western half of Kagoshima prefecture) in Kyushu from the Kamakura period to the establishment of the modern Japanese state in the Meiji.
Highly respected warriors throughout Japanes history, they were instrumental in Ashikaga Takauji's recapture of Kyoto and the establishment of the Muromachi shogunate and for being major supporters of the Meiji emperor in the establishment of the modern Japanese state. During the warring states "Sengoku-Jidai" period they controlled almost all of Kyushu before their subjugation by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who would eventually use them as cannon fodder during the infamous Keicho and Bunroku invasions of Korea. It is said that Shimazu Yoshihiro's Satsuma army defeated a Ming army 20 times its size at the battle of Shisen, earning him the name "oni" Shimazu from the Chinese. These Shimazu/Satsuma bearers saw that this insignia flew at major battles from Sekigahara in 1600 (with another one of Yoshihiro's miracles) to the Boshin War in 1868. Though their loss at Sekigahara with Ishida Mitsunari led to Tokugawa Ieyasu's establishment of the Edo shogunate, their victory in the Boshin War spelled the bakufu's destruction and the coming of the Meiji Restoration.