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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 Matsumoto9.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 Odawara4.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. Aoyagi Castle
  8. Ashikagashi Yakata
  9. Asuke Castle
  10. Baba Yashiki
  11. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  12. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  13. Echizen Ohno Castle
  14. Edo Castle
  15. Ema Yakata
  16. Fukuchiyama Castle
  17. Fukui Castle
  18. Fukuyama Castle
  19. Funai Castle
  20. Funaoka Castle
  21. Fushimi Castle
  22. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  23. Hachigata Castle
  24. Hachinohe Castle
  25. Hagi Castle
  26. Hamada Castle
  27. Hamamatsu Castle
  28. Hanamaki Castle
  29. Hekirichi Jinya
  30. Hikone Castle
  31. Himeji Castle
  32. Hirado Castle
  33. Hirosaki Castle
  34. Hiroshima Castle
  35. Hitoyoshi Castle
  36. Hizen Kashima Castle
  37. Honshouji Castle
  38. Hotta no Saku
  39. Ibaraki Castle
  40. Ichijodani Castle
  41. Iga Ueno Castle
  42. Iida Castle
  43. Iiyama Castle
  44. Ikeda Castle
  45. Imabari Castle
  46. Inatsuke Castle
  47. Innoshima Suigun castle
  48. Inuyama Castle
  49. Iwakuni Castle
  50. Iwamura Castle
  51. Iwatsuki Castle
  52. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  53. Izu Nagahama Castle
  54. Izuki Jin'ya
  55. Izumi Jin'ya
  56. Izushi Castle
  57. Kaibara Jinya
  58. Kakegawa Castle
  59. Kameda Castle
  60. Kaminoyama Castle
  61. Kamioka Castle
  62. Kanazawa Castle
  63. Kasama Castle
  64. Kawanoe Castle
  65. Kinojo
  66. Kishiwada Castle
  67. Kiyosu Castle
  68. Kochi Castle
  69. Kofu Castle
  70. Koiwatake Castle
  71. Komatsu Castle
  72. Komoro Castle
  73. Kubota Castle
  74. Kumamoto Castle
  75. Kushima Castle
  76. Marugame Castle
  77. Matsuda Yakata
  78. Matsue Castle
  79. Matsumae Castle
  80. Matsumoto Castle
  81. Matsushiro Castle
  82. Mibu Castle
  83. Minakuchi Castle
  84. Minokubi Castle
  85. Minowa Castle
  86. Mito Castle
  87. Mizusawa Castle
  88. Momose Jin'ya
  89. Nabari Jinya
  90. Nagahama Castle
  91. Nagoya Castle
  92. Nanbata Castle
  93. Natsukawa Castle
  94. Ne Castle
  95. Nijo Castle
  96. Nishio Castle
  97. Nobeoka Castle
  98. Obata Jin'ya
  99. Obi Castle
  100. Odawara Castle
  101. Ogaki Castle
  102. Oguchi Castle
  103. Oh'uchi Yakata
  104. Ohmine Castle
  105. Ohmori Daikansho
  106. Oka Castle
  107. Okayama Castle
  108. Osaka Castle
  109. Oshi Castle
  110. Otaki Castle
  111. Owari Ohno Castle
  112. Ozu Castle
  113. Saga Castle
  114. Sakasai Castle
  115. Sannohe Castle
  116. Sekiyado Castle
  117. Shibata Castle
  118. Shichinohe Castle
  119. Shimosaka Yakata
  120. Shirakawa Castle
  121. Shiroishi Castle
  122. Shishido Jin'ya
  123. Shiwa Castle
  124. Shuri Castle
  125. Soma Nakamura Castle
  126. Sonobe Castle
  127. Sunpu Castle
  128. Suwahara Castle
  129. Tahara Castle
  130. Takamatsu Castle
  131. Takane Castle
  132. Takasaki Castle
  133. Takashima Castle
  134. Takato Castle
  135. Takatsuki Castle
  136. Takenaka Jinya
  137. Tamaru Castle
  138. Tanabe Castle
  139. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  140. Tanaka Castle
  141. Tatebayashi Castle
  142. Tatsuno Castle
  143. Tatsuoka Castle
  144. Todoroki Yashiki
  145. Tojo Castle
  146. Tokushima Castle
  147. Tomioka Castle
  148. Torigoe Castle
  149. Tottori Castle
  150. Toyama Castle
  151. Toyooka Jinya
  152. Tsu Castle
  153. Tsuchiura Castle
  154. Ueda Castle
  155. Usuki Castle
  156. Uwajima Castle
  157. Wakayama Castle
  158. Yamagata Castle
  159. Yamaguchi Castle
  160. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  161. Yuzawa Castle
  162. Yuzuki Castle
  163. Zeze Castle
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