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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 Gates (yaguramon, yagura gates) are gates with a watchtower or turret atop the gatehouse. 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

Nijo5.jpg Edo7.jpg Marugame5.jpg Matsuyama27.jpg

Free Standing Yagura Gates

Kochi8.jpg Hirosaki6.jpg Hirosaki12.jpg Tsuchiura8.jpg

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.

Mito11.jpg Ashikaga7.jpg Kofu10.jpg Marugame63.jpg Obatajinya8.jpg

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

Nagoya13.jpg Nagoya14.jpg

Newer Style Koraimon

Edo13.jpg Edo76.jpg Matsumoto10.jpg Himeji29.jpg

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.

Himeji28.jpg Bitchu11.jpg

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.

Ikeda3.jpg Nanbata6.jpg Kakegawa4.jpg

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.

Yonago18.jpg Nijo15.jpg Iwamura7.jpg

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.

Nijo2.jpg Nijo3.jpg Ichijodani3.jpg

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.

Nagoya15.jpg Odawara15.jpg Himeji14.jpg Matsushiro12.jpg


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.

Edo84.jpg Matsumoto10.jpg Kofu14.jpg Sunpu5.jpg


Castles with Gates
  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Akita Castle
  4. Akizuki Castle
  5. Ako Castle
  6. Amagajo
  7. Annaka Castle
  8. Aoyagi Castle
  9. Ashikagashi Yakata
  10. Asuke Castle
  11. Baba Yashiki
  12. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  13. Chinen Castle
  14. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  15. Echizen Ohno Castle
  16. Edo Castle
  17. Ema Yakata
  18. Fuchuu Castle (Hitachi)
  19. Fukuchiyama Castle
  20. Fukui Castle
  21. Fukuyama Castle
  22. Funai Castle
  23. Funaoka Castle
  24. Fushimi Castle
  25. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  26. Hachigata Castle
  27. Hachinohe Castle
  28. Hagi Castle
  29. Hamada Castle
  30. Hamamatsu Castle
  31. Hanamaki Castle
  32. Hatta Yashiki
  33. Hekirichi Jinya
  34. Hikone Castle
  35. Himeji Castle
  36. Hirado Castle
  37. Hirosaki Castle
  38. Hiroshima Castle
  39. Hitoyoshi Castle
  40. Honshouji Castle
  41. Hotta no Saku
  42. Ibaraki Castle
  43. Ichijodani Castle
  44. Ide Yakata
  45. Iga Ueno Castle
  46. Iida Castle
  47. Iiyama Castle
  48. Ijiri Yashiki
  49. Ikeda Castle
  50. Imabari Castle
  51. Inatsuke Castle
  52. Innoshima Suigun Castle
  53. Inuyama Castle
  54. Isawa Jin'ya
  55. Itoi Jin'ya
  56. Iwaki Taira Castle
  57. Iwakuni Castle
  58. Iwamura Castle
  59. Iwatsuki Castle
  60. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  61. Izu Nagahama Castle
  62. Izuki Jin'ya
  63. Izumi Jin'ya
  64. Izushi Castle
  65. Kai Baba Yashiki
  66. Kai Nishikawa Yashiki
  67. Kaibara Jinya
  68. Kakegawa Castle
  69. Kameda Castle
  70. Kaminoyama Castle
  71. Kamioka Castle
  72. Kanazawa Castle
  73. Kanzou Yashiki
  74. Kasama Castle
  75. Kashima Castle (Hizen)
  76. Kawanoe Castle
  77. Kinojo
  78. Kishiwada Castle
  79. Kitaaranami Fort
  80. Kitamura Castle (Omi)
  81. Kiyosu Castle
  82. Kochi Castle
  83. Kofu Castle
  84. Koga Castle
  85. Koiwatake Castle
  86. Komatsu Castle
  87. Komono Castle
  88. Komoro Castle
  89. Kubota Castle
  90. Kumamoto Castle
  91. Kushima Castle
  92. Marugame Castle
  93. Matsuda Yakata
  94. Matsue Castle
  95. Matsumae Castle
  96. Matsumoto Castle
  97. Matsushiro Castle
  98. Mibu Castle
  99. Miharu Castle
  100. Minakuchi Castle
  101. Minokubi Castle
  102. Minowa Castle
  103. Mito Castle
  104. Mizusawa Castle
  105. Momose Jin'ya
  106. Nabari Jinya
  107. Nagahama Castle
  108. Nagahara Castle
  109. Nagoya Castle
  110. Nanbata Castle
  111. Nanokaichi Jin'ya
  112. Natsukawa Castle
  113. Ne Castle
  114. Nijo Castle
  115. Nikaidou Yakata
  116. Nishio Castle
  117. Nishiohhira Jin'ya
  118. Nobeoka Castle
  119. Obata Jin'ya
  120. Obi Castle
  121. Ochiai Yashiki
  122. Odawara Castle
  123. Ogaki Castle
  124. Oguchi Castle
  125. Oh'uchi Yakata
  126. Ohmine Castle
  127. Ohmori Daikansho
  128. Ohno Castle (Owari)
  129. Oka Castle
  130. Okayama Castle
  131. Omono Castle
  132. Osaka Castle
  133. Oshi Castle
  134. Ota Castle
  135. Otaki Castle
  136. Ozu Castle
  137. Saga Castle
  138. Sagaki Jin'ya
  139. Sakasai Castle
  140. Sannohe Castle
  141. Saraki Jin'ya
  142. Sekiyado Castle
  143. Shibata Castle
  144. Shichinohe Castle
  145. Shimosaka Yakata
  146. Shirakawa Castle
  147. Shiroishi Castle
  148. Shishido Jin'ya
  149. Shiwa Castle
  150. Shuri Castle
  151. Sonobe Castle
  152. Souma Nakamura Castle
  153. Sunpu Castle
  154. Suwahara Castle
  155. Suzaka Jin'ya
  156. Tahara Castle
  157. Takamatsu Castle
  158. Takamuro Yashiki
  159. Takane Castle
  160. Takasaki Castle
  161. Takashima Castle
  162. Takato Castle
  163. Takatsuki Castle
  164. Takeda Yakata (Ibaraki)
  165. Takenaka Jinya
  166. Tamaru Castle
  167. Tanabe Castle
  168. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  169. Tanaka Castle
  170. Tatebayashi Castle
  171. Tatsuno Castle
  172. Tatsuoka Castle
  173. Todoroki Yashiki
  174. Tojo Castle
  175. Tokushima Castle
  176. Tomioka Castle
  177. Torigoe Castle
  178. Tottori Castle
  179. Toyama Castle
  180. Toyooka Jinya
  181. Tsu Castle
  182. Tsuchiura Castle
  183. Tsuruga Castle
  184. Ueda Castle
  185. Ueno Yashiki
  186. Usuki Castle
  187. Uwajima Castle
  188. Wakayama Castle
  189. Yamagata Castle
  190. Yamaguchi Castle
  191. Yamamoto Jin'ya
  192. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  193. Yatsushiro Yashiki
  194. Yuzawa Castle
  195. Yuzuki Castle
  196. Zeze Castle
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