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Toyotomi Hideyoshi Kaou.svg
Chinese name
Chinese 花押
Japanese name
Kanji 花押
Korean name
Hangul 화압
Hanja 花押
kaōs of members of Council of Five Elders.

A kaō or huāyā is a stylized signature or a mark used in east Asia in place of a true signature.


Kaō first appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty, and began to be used in Japan during the Heian period.[1] Though their use became far less widespread after the Edo period, they continue to be used even by some contemporary politicians and other famous people.[2] The reading and identification of individual kaō often requires specialist knowledge; whole books devoted to the topic have been published.[3]

Often used by Japanese swordsmith on sword tang (nakago).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 望月 鶴川 [Kakusen Mochizuki] (June 2005), 花押のせかい [The World of Kaō], 朝陽会 [Chōyōkai], ISBN 978-4-903059-03-7 
  2. ^ 佐藤 進一 [Satō Shin'ichi] (September 2000), 花押を読む [Reading Kaō], 平凡社 [Heibonsha], ISBN 978-4-582-76367-6 
  3. ^ 上島 有 [Tamotsu Kamishima] (December 2004), 中世花押の謎を解く―足利将軍家とその花押 [Cracking the Riddle of Kaō from the Middle Ages: The Ashikaga Shogunate and their Kaō], 山川出版社 [Yamakawa Shuppansha], ISBN 978-4-634-52330-2, JPNO 20717189