Today we talk about the carriage wheel motif. This design is associated with The Tale of Genji, a Heian-period classic of Japanese literature, and it’s popularity as a motif dates to the latter part of Heian period (794–1185).(Dower:130) It may have also developed some religious associations due to its similarity to the Buddhist wheel of the law, a separate motif.(SH:57) The basic Genji carriage wheel, below on the left, has maintained its popularity from the Heian period, being used by Sakakibara Yasumasa in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1603)(SH:59) and continuing to be used in the same form today.(IEJFC:164) Other variations were possible; for example the partial wheel used by Ikoma Chikamasa when fighting in the Momoyama-period invasions of Korea (1592–1598), shown below on the right.(SH:E7,60) (While this crest is identified as the ‘wheel of the law’, graphically it reflects the Genji carriage wheel design.)

Genji Carriage WheelPartial Wheel

Carriage Wheel Mon