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Turrets (Yagura) / 櫓

This is a subtype of Features

The Japanese term yagura literally means a storehouse (kura) for arrows (ya), but yagura were used to store all manner of weapons, food and supplies. Yagura were not just storehouses, but vital defensive platforms and lookout towers that were placed at strategic locations throughout the castle. Most corners of a bailey had a yagura, often called a sumi yagura (corner yagura). These corners provided a wide field of view and two sides for flanking fire. The corner yagura also protected the vulnerable corners of stone walls which were much easier to climb than the straight sheer sides.


You can sometimes guess what was stored in a yagura or its purpose from the name: Teppo Yagura (guns), Hata Yagura (flags), Yari Yagura (spears), Shio Yagura (salt), among many others. There were also other special function yagura such as Taiko Yagura which kept a drum to sound out the time, Tsukimi Yagura for viewing the moon, and Ido Yagura for housing a well. Sumi Yagura (corner yagura) often had special naming conventions too. They were named according to the 12 signs of the zodiac as placed on the face of a clock. So with north at 12 o'clock a northwest yagura was called Ushitora Yagura, a southeast yagura was Tatsumi Yagura, southwest was Hitsujisaru Yagura and Northwest was Inui Yagura.


Yagura were mostly built in the sotogata style, with the same characteristics of many main keep. Sotogata have a square base with each level a size smaller than the lower one. There are few extant yagura in the borogata style, but some examples are the Utoyagura at Kumamoto Castle and Nohara Yagura at Iyo Matsuyama Castle and the Fushimi Yagura at Fukuyama Castle. See the Main keep page for more details about these structure types.

Seiroyagura (井楼櫓)

Seiroyagura is one of the earlier forms of yagura. It is a simple structure made from wooden beams in a square. They were used as watchtowers in earlier castles and were erected on the battlefield to provide commanders with a better view.

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3 level yagura (三重櫓)

main keeps are basically really big yagura that evolved to 3 or more levels. Especially, in eastern Japan many castles built a large 3 level yagura in place of a main keep. Such main keep were also called gosankai yagura. The main keep of Hirosaki Castle and Marugame Castle are actually 3 level yagura. At Edo Castle, the 3 level Fujimi Yagura was used in place of the main keep after it burned down too.

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Gosankai Yagura (御三階櫓)

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2 Level Yagura (二重櫓)

2 level yagura is the most typical yagura type and there are many surviving examples throughout the country. You see lots of unique shapes and uses for these yagura.

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1 level yagura

Hirayagura (平櫓)

This is the simplest yagura type. It's too short to be used as a lookout tower and not usually used as a sumiyagura. Hirayagura is most frequently used on the edge of an outer bailey like a sannomaru bailey that has no dirt walls. It is also frequently used as a connecting yagura to join gates, larger yagura or main keep.

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Tamonyagura (多聞櫓)

Tamonyagura is a hirayagura that has been stretched out. It can be used in place of dirt walls atop moats and embankments. Tamonyagura are often found connected to corner sumiyagura or main keep. They can be used to store goods, but also function as a very strong defensive platform.

Hikone2.jpg Edo44.jpg Fukuoka8.jpg Himeji20.jpg

Castles with Turrets (Yagura)
  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Ako Castle
  4. Akozu Castle
  5. Amagajo
  6. Amagasaki Castle
  7. Aoyagi Castle
  8. Asuke Castle
  9. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  10. Damine Castle
  11. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  12. Echizen Ohno Castle
  13. Edo Castle
  14. Fujita Castle
  15. Fukuchiyama Castle
  16. Fukuyama Castle
  17. Funai Castle
  18. Fushimi Castle
  19. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  20. Haga Castle
  21. Hanaoka Castle (Saku)
  22. Hikone Castle
  23. Himeji Castle
  24. Hirado Castle
  25. Hirosaki Castle
  26. Hiroshima Castle
  27. Hirota Castle
  28. Hitomoshi Castle (Saku)
  29. Hitoyoshi Castle
  30. Hokkyu Castle
  31. Honshouji Castle
  32. Hotta no Saku
  33. Iga Ueno Castle
  34. Iji Castle
  35. Ikeda Castle
  36. Imabari Castle
  37. Ina Castle
  38. Innoshima Suigun Castle
  39. Inuyama Castle
  40. Iouji Fort
  41. Iroganeyama Fort
  42. Iwamura Castle
  43. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  44. Izu Nagahama Castle
  45. Izushi Castle
  46. Kakegawa Castle
  47. Kameyama Castle
  48. Kaminoyama Castle
  49. Kanazawa Castle
  50. Kasama Castle
  51. Kashima Castle (Hizen)
  52. Kikuchi Castle
  53. Kishiwada Castle
  54. Kochi Castle
  55. Kofu Castle
  56. Koiwatake Castle
  57. Kokura Castle
  58. Kokuzousan Noroshidai
  59. Komoro Castle
  60. Koromo Castle
  61. Kosema Castle
  62. Koyama Castle
  63. Kubo Castle (Mikawa)
  64. Kubota Castle
  65. Kumamoto Castle
  66. Kushima Castle
  67. Kuwana Castle
  68. Marugame Castle
  69. Matsue Castle
  70. Matsumae Castle
  71. Matsumoto Castle
  72. Matsushiro Castle
  73. Minakuchi Castle
  74. Mito Castle
  75. Monjuyama Castle
  76. Nagaoka Castle
  77. Nagoya Castle
  78. Nakatsu Castle
  79. Nakayama Fort (Mikawa)
  80. Nihonmatsu Castle
  81. Nijo Castle
  82. Nishio Castle
  83. Numata Castle
  84. Odawara Castle
  85. Ogaki Castle
  86. Oguchi Castle
  87. Ogurayama Castle
  88. Ohmori Castle
  89. Ohno Castle (Owari)
  90. Okayama Castle
  91. Osaka Castle
  92. Oshi Castle
  93. Otaki Castle
  94. Ozu Castle
  95. Sakasai Castle
  96. Sannohe Castle
  97. Seki Castle (Mino)
  98. Sekiyado Castle
  99. Sendai Castle
  100. Shibata Castle
  101. Shimabara Castle
  102. Shirakawa Castle
  103. Shiroishi Castle
  104. Shiwa Castle
  105. Sonobe Castle
  106. Sunpu Castle
  107. Tahara Castle
  108. Takamatsu Castle
  109. Takane Castle
  110. Takasaki Castle
  111. Takashima Castle
  112. Takato Castle
  113. Takayama Castle (Mino)
  114. Tanabe Castle
  115. Tanaka Castle
  116. Tatsuno Castle
  117. Tatsuoka Castle
  118. Tojo Castle
  119. Tomioka Castle
  120. Toyama Castle
  121. Tsu Castle
  122. Tsuchiura Castle
  123. Tsuyama Castle
  124. Ueda Castle
  125. Usuki Castle
  126. Utsunomiya Castle
  127. Uwajima Castle
  128. Wakayama Castle
  129. Yaga Castle (Tanba)
  130. Yamagata Castle
  131. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  132. Yoshida Castle
  133. Yoshinogari
  134. Yumurayama Castle
  135. Zeze Castle
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