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