Gates / 門

This is a subtype of Features

There are many different types of gates, but the basic construction is the same for all. Two columns (kagamibashira) that hold the gate doors are connected by a crossbeam (kabuki) across the top. Usually, the columns are joined to support pillars (hikaebashira) behind them to help prevent the gate from being pushed over backwards. The rest of the gate construction is developed from the gate's position, function and defensive needs.

Gates were often strategically positioned in the walls of each bailey so that anyone who attempts to enter the castle must zig zag back and forth to reach the inner grounds and the main keep. Gates were often further fortified by bolting metal plates over them for strength.

Yaguramon (櫓門)

A gate with a yagura situated on top. These are often large, strong and impressive looking gates. They are frequently used as the inner gate of a masugata and for other important entrance points. Yaguramon were were a safe place to observe the outside and they could be used as defensive platforms with defenders in the top. They were equipped with loopholes and windows to shoot from and the floor in front of the gate could be opened like a rock chute to attack anyone at the doors below. There are 2 types of yaguramon. Watariyagura style uses a watariyagura to span from one stone wall across the gate to another stone wall. The other style is basically a free standing yagura with a gate built into the first floor.

Watariyagura Style

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Free Standing Yagura Gates

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Yakuimon (薬医門)

A gate where one roof covers both the main front pillars (kagamibashira) and the rear support pillars (hikaebashira). The roof was necessarily large to cover all four pillars. This is an older style gate that was eventually replaced by Koraimon gates (see below), because it was impractical for defense. The large roof blocked the defenders vision of the outside and it actually shielded any attackers at the doors. There are very few extant examples of yakuimon gates at castles today. The second picture below is an inside view of the gate in the first picture so that you can get a better view of the structure of Yakuimon gates compared to Koraimon gates. The picture from Kakunodate Castle shows a smaller yakuimon in front of a samurai home.

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Koraimon (高麗門)

The front pillars and doors are covered with one small roof and the rear support pillars and support beams are each covered by a separate roof on either side at right angles to the main roof over the front pillars. This type of gate is often used as the outer gate of a masugata. There are two types of Koraimon. The roof of the older style is nearly even with the surrounding walls, while the newer style gate is taller so the roof is up higher than the surrounding walls.

Older Style Koraimon

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Newer Style Koraimon

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Munamon (棟門€)

Munamon is a gate with two main pillars covered by a roof. It is similar to the koraimon, but lacks the extra support pillars in the rear making it relatively unstable. It is often wedged in between stone or earthen walls to gain extra support.

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Tonashimon (戸無し門)

As the name implies, tonashimon is literally a gate with no doors. The only extant gate of this type that I know of is at Iyo Matsuyama Castle. It is basically a koriamon gate with no doors. It is said that this gate was built here atop a long slope at the front of a hairpin curve to trick attackers into thinking it would be an easy way into the castle. Once they pass through the gate and around the curve they are actually met with a large heavily fortified gate.


Kabukimon (冠木門)

This is a gate with only the two front vertical pillars and the one horizontal cross beam. It has doors but no roof. This gate is a formality only and has little or no defensive value.

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Heijuumon (塀重門)

A heijuumon gate takes the kabukimon a step further and eliminates the cross beam between the two front pillars.


Nagayamon (長屋門)

This is where a gate is passed through a section of a long warehouse. Rooms were easily built on either side of the gate and it was often used as a guardhouse around samurai homes.

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Karamon (唐門)

An ornate gate with a karahafu style roof. A karahafu is a gable chracterized by the rounded ridge in the center. There are several surviving karamon that were moved from castles to temples, but the only one that I know of that is at a castle is the famous gate from Nijo Castle.

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Uzumimon (埋門€)

Uzumimon literally means buried gate. There are two types of uzumimon. In one type, a hole is literally cut through the middle of a completed stone wall. In the second type, when the stone walls are constructed a narrow gap is left for a gate. Then the defensive wall atop the stone wall foundation is run across the gate evenly with the rest. An uzumimon was often used as an emergency exit or as a rear entrance to the castle.

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Masugata (枡形)

A masugata is a compound gate made up of 2 gates, most commonly a koraimon on the outside and a yaguramon on the inside. The 2 gates are placed at right angles and joined by walls to create a square enclosure. Any enemy who attempts to enter the castle will be trapped in the box while it tries to breach the strong inner gate. The trapped enemy is then vulnerable to attack from the defenders inside the castle, and lining the walls above.

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Castles with Gates

  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Akita Castle
  4. Akizuki Castle
  5. Ako Castle
  6. Amagajo
  7. Aoyagi Castle
  8. Ashikagashi Yakata
  9. Asuke Castle
  10. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  11. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  12. Echizen Ohno Castle
  13. Edo Castle
  14. Fukuchiyama Castle
  15. Fukuyama Castle
  16. Funai Castle
  17. Funaoka Castle
  18. Fushimi Castle
  19. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  20. Hachigata Castle
  21. Hachinohe Castle
  22. Hagi Castle
  23. Hamada Castle
  24. Hamamatsu Castle
  25. Hekirichi Jinya
  26. Hikone Castle
  27. Himeji Castle
  28. Hirado Castle
  29. Hirosaki Castle
  30. Hiroshima Castle
  31. Hitoyoshi Castle
  32. Hotta no Saku
  33. Ibaraki Castle
  34. Ichijodani Castle
  35. Iga Ueno Castle
  36. Ikeda Castle
  37. Imabari Castle
  38. Inatsuke Castle
  39. Innoshima Suigun castle
  40. Inuyama Castle
  41. Iwamura Castle
  42. Iwatsuki Castle
  43. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  44. Izu Nagahama Castle
  45. Izumi Jin'ya
  46. Izushi Castle
  47. Kakegawa Castle
  48. Kameda Castle
  49. Kaminoyama Castle
  50. Kamioka Castle
  51. Kanazawa Castle
  52. Kasama Castle
  53. Kawanoe Castle
  54. Kinojo
  55. Kishiwada Castle
  56. Kiyosu Castle
  57. Kochi Castle
  58. Kofu Castle
  59. Komoro Castle
  60. Kubota Castle
  61. Kumamoto Castle
  62. Kushima Castle
  63. Marugame Castle
  64. Matsue Castle
  65. Matsumae Castle
  66. Matsumoto Castle
  67. Matsushiro Castle
  68. Minakuchi Castle
  1. Minokubi Castle
  2. Mito Castle
  3. Nagahama Castle
  4. Nagoya Castle
  5. Nanbata Castle
  6. Natsukawa Castle
  7. Ne Castle
  8. Nijo Castle
  9. Nishio Castle
  10. Nobeoka Castle
  11. Obata Jin'ya
  12. Obi Castle
  13. Odawara Castle
  14. Ogaki Castle
  15. Oka Castle
  16. Okayama Castle
  17. Osaka Castle
  18. Oshi Castle
  19. Otaki Castle
  20. Owari Ohno Castle
  21. Ozu Castle
  22. Saga Castle
  23. Sakasai Castle
  24. Sannohe Castle
  25. Sekiyado Castle
  26. Shibata Castle
  27. Shichinohe Castle
  28. Shirakawa Castle
  29. Shiroishi Castle
  30. Shishido Jin'ya
  31. Shiwa Castle
  32. Shuri Castle
  33. Soma Nakamura Castle
  34. Sonobe Castle
  35. Sunpu Castle
  36. Suwahara Castle
  37. Tahara Castle
  38. Takamatsu Castle
  39. Takane Castle
  40. Takasaki Castle
  41. Takashima Castle
  42. Takato Castle
  43. Takatsuki Castle
  44. Takenaka Jinya
  45. Tamaru Castle
  46. Tanabe Castle
  47. Tanaka Castle
  48. Tatebayashi Castle
  49. Tatsuno Castle
  50. Tatsuoka Castle
  51. Tojo Castle
  52. Tokushima Castle
  53. Tomioka Castle
  54. Torigoe Castle
  55. Tottori Castle
  56. Toyama Castle
  57. Toyooka Jinya
  58. Tsu Castle
  59. Tsuchiura Castle
  60. Ueda Castle
  61. Usuki Castle
  62. Uwajima Castle
  63. Wakayama Castle
  64. Yamagata Castle
  65. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  66. Yuzawa Castle
  67. Yuzuki Castle
  68. Zeze Castle

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