From Jcastle.info

Walls / 塀

This is a subtype of Features

Dobei are the white walls you commonly see at castles. They are the simplest and most inexpensive defenses available. Dobei originally lined the top of most moats, stone walls and encircled most of the baileys linking together gates and yagura. Many castles had at least one kilometer of walls and Edo Castle had more than 10km. Despite the fact that there were so many such walls during the Edo Period, if you added up all the extant walls today you would only find a little over a kilometer. The majority of extant walls are at Himeji Castle and the longest single extant section is the Nagabei at Kumamoto Castle. These walls evolved from simple structures of wooden planks nailed to a fence. The walls were strengthened and thickened to prevent arrows from piercing them, to prevent fire and later to prevent bullets from easily passing through.

Matsuyama22.jpg Marugame2.jpg Kanazawa122.jpg Sakasai15.jpg


Dobei walls are built by erecting pillars approximately 1.5 meters apart. In between the pillars is a lattice of bamboo or wood strips. Mud and clay were then layered over this lattice up to about 20cm thick. The clay was often mixed with some strong Japanese grass (wara) for added strength and to prevent cracks. Earlier forms of these walls were not covered in plaster which gave them a sandy yellow color. In the picture above from Sakasai Castle you can see a wall with no plaster that shows this yellow color and you can also make out some grasses embedded in the clay. Edo Period dobei were usually covered in hard white plaster which increased their strength and helped prevent weathering. Atop the wall they had tile roofs and often had loopholes for firing arrows or guns. Walls also frequently had support posts behind them to increase their strength especially for walls along the top of stone walls or other places where the foundation was not as solid. Some walls also contained strategically placed rock chutes to drop rocks on attackers. Click the pictures below to enlarge these displays of wall construction.

Utsunomiya8.jpg Utsunomiya9.jpg Odawara24.jpg Kanazawa218.jpg


There are some extant variations of these walls that can be divided into neribei and tuijibei. Neither of these have the kind of wooden pillars or interior framework of the usual walls. Neribei are constructed from dried clay bricks or old tiles that are mortared together with clay and covered with a layer of hard plaster. Neribei were employed at Himeji and Bitchu Matsuyama castles to quickly build some walls.

Tuijibei are made from pounding a mixture sand and clay in 3-5 cm layers. They are about 1 meter thick and up to 3 meters tall. They have a distinctive wooden framework on the outside and are topped with a tile roof. These are very strong walls, but their thickness makes it impossible to build in loopholes and they are very time and labor intensive to build. For these reasons they were not commonly used at castles. There is a small section by the Mizu no Ichi gate at Himeji Castle and the Ninomaru of Nijo Castle is surrounded by impressive Tsuijibei.

Himeji34.jpg Himeji7.jpg Nijo17.jpg Shiwa15.jpg

Loopholes / Sama (狭間)

Loopholes were holes built into the walls for firing arrows or guns. Loopholes designed for arrows were generally tall rectangles and those for firearms were circles, triangles, or squares. Some loopholes were hidden by a door or plug that matched the surface on the outside to prevent detection by attackers. These are called kakushizama as you see in the last two photos below.

Himeji33.jpg Himeji35.jpg Hikone98.jpg Ozu53.jpg

Castles with Walls
  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Akechi Osayama Castle
  4. Akita Castle
  5. Akizuki Castle
  6. Ako Castle
  7. Amagajo
  8. Amagasaki Castle
  9. Aoyagi Castle
  10. Ashinoya Jin'ya
  11. Asuke Castle
  12. Baba Yashiki
  13. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  14. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  15. Edo Castle
  16. Ema Yakata
  17. Fukuchiyama Castle
  18. Fukui Castle
  19. Fukuyama Castle
  20. Funai Castle
  21. Fushimi Castle
  22. Ganjaku Castle
  23. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  24. Ha Castle
  25. Hachigata Castle
  26. Hagi Castle
  27. Hamamatsu Castle
  28. Hanamaki Castle
  29. Hikone Castle
  30. Himeji Castle
  31. Hiraizumi Date
  32. Hirosaki Castle
  33. Hiroshima Castle
  34. Honshouji Castle
  35. Hotta no Saku
  36. Ichijodani Castle
  37. Ide Yakata
  38. Iga Ueno Castle
  39. Iida Castle
  40. Iijima Jin'ya
  41. Iji Castle
  42. Ikeda Castle
  43. Imabari Castle
  44. Ishikawa Jouzan Yashiki
  45. Iwamura Castle
  46. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  47. Izushi Castle
  48. Kakegawa Castle
  49. Kaminoyama Castle
  50. Kamioka Castle
  51. Kanazawa Castle
  52. Kashima Castle (Hizen)
  53. Katsumoto Castle
  54. Kawahara Castle
  55. Kawasaki no Saku
  56. Kinowa Castle
  57. Kishiwada Castle
  58. Kiyosu Castle
  59. Kofu Castle
  60. Koiwatake Castle
  61. Kokura Castle
  62. Kumamoto Castle
  63. Kuriyagawa no Saku
  64. Kyara Palace
  65. Marugame Castle
  66. Maruoka Castle
  67. Matsue Castle
  68. Matsumae Castle
  69. Matsumoto Castle
  70. Matsushiro Castle
  71. Miki Castle
  72. Minakuchi Castle
  73. Mito Castle
  74. Nabari Jinya
  75. Nabebuta Castle
  76. Nagata Jin'ya
  77. Nagisa Castle
  78. Nagoya Castle
  79. Nakatsu Castle
  80. Nanokaichi Jin'ya
  81. Ne Castle
  82. Nihonmatsu Castle
  83. Nijo Castle
  84. Nishio Castle
  85. Nishiohhira Jin'ya
  86. Noda Castle (Shitara)
  87. Obata Jin'ya
  88. Obi Castle
  89. Odawara Castle
  90. Ogaki Castle
  91. Oguchi Castle
  92. Ogurayama Castle
  93. Ohmine Castle
  94. Ohmori Daikansho
  95. Ohtsuka Moated Settlement
  96. Okayama Castle
  97. Okutono Jin'ya
  98. Osaka Castle
  99. Oshi Castle
  100. Otaki Castle
  101. Saga Castle
  102. Sakasai Castle
  103. Sannohe Castle
  104. Sasayama Castle
  105. Sekiyado Castle
  106. Sendai Castle
  107. Shibata Castle
  108. Shimabara Castle
  109. Shirakawa Castle
  110. Shiroishi Castle
  111. Shiwa Castle
  112. Sonobe Castle
  113. Suibara Daikansho
  114. Sunpu Castle
  115. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  116. Takamatsu Castle
  117. Takane Castle
  118. Takasaki Castle
  119. Takashima Castle
  120. Takayama Jin'ya
  121. Takeda Yakata (Ibaraki)
  122. Tanabe Castle
  123. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  124. Tanaka Castle
  125. Tatebayashi Castle
  126. Tatsuno Castle
  127. Tatsuoka Castle
  128. Tomioka Castle
  129. Torigoe Castle
  130. Toyama Castle
  131. Toyoda Tachi
  132. Tsu Castle
  133. Tsuchiura Castle
  134. Tsukikuma Castle
  135. Tsurugaoka Castle
  136. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  137. Tsuyama Castle
  138. Ueda Castle
  139. Ueno Yashiki
  140. Usuki Castle
  141. Utsunomiya Castle
  142. Wakayama Castle
  143. Yamagata Castle
  144. Yamaguchi Yashiki
  145. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  146. Yuzuki Castle
  147. Zeze Castle
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