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 150px

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