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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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. Itoi Jin'ya
  50. Iwakuni Castle
  51. Iwamura Castle
  52. Iwatsuki Castle
  53. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  54. Izu Nagahama Castle
  55. Izuki Jin'ya
  56. Izumi Jin'ya
  57. Izushi Castle
  58. Kaibara Jinya
  59. Kakegawa Castle
  60. Kameda Castle
  61. Kaminoyama Castle
  62. Kamioka Castle
  63. Kanazawa Castle
  64. Kasama Castle
  65. Kawanoe Castle
  66. Kinojo
  67. Kishiwada Castle
  68. Kiyosu Castle
  69. Kochi Castle
  70. Kofu Castle
  71. Koiwatake Castle
  72. Komatsu Castle
  73. Komoro Castle
  74. Kubota Castle
  75. Kumamoto Castle
  76. Kushima Castle
  77. Marugame Castle
  78. Matsuda Yakata
  79. Matsue Castle
  80. Matsumae Castle
  81. Matsumoto Castle
  82. Matsushiro Castle
  83. Mibu Castle
  84. Minakuchi Castle
  85. Minokubi Castle
  86. Minowa Castle
  87. Mito Castle
  88. Mizusawa Castle
  89. Momose Jin'ya
  90. Nabari Jinya
  91. Nagahama Castle
  92. Nagoya Castle
  93. Nanbata Castle
  94. Natsukawa Castle
  95. Ne Castle
  96. Nijo Castle
  97. Nishio Castle
  98. Nobeoka Castle
  99. Obata Jin'ya
  100. Obi Castle
  101. Odawara Castle
  102. Ogaki Castle
  103. Oguchi Castle
  104. Oh'uchi Yakata
  105. Ohmine Castle
  106. Ohmori Daikansho
  107. Oka Castle
  108. Okayama Castle
  109. Osaka Castle
  110. Oshi Castle
  111. Otaki Castle
  112. Owari Ohno Castle
  113. Ozu Castle
  114. Saga Castle
  115. Sakasai Castle
  116. Sannohe Castle
  117. Sekiyado Castle
  118. Shibata Castle
  119. Shichinohe Castle
  120. Shimosaka Yakata
  121. Shirakawa Castle
  122. Shiroishi Castle
  123. Shishido Jin'ya
  124. Shiwa Castle
  125. Shuri Castle
  126. Sonobe Castle
  127. Souma Nakamura Castle
  128. Sunpu Castle
  129. Suwahara Castle
  130. Tahara Castle
  131. Takamatsu Castle
  132. Takane Castle
  133. Takasaki Castle
  134. Takashima Castle
  135. Takato Castle
  136. Takatsuki Castle
  137. Takenaka Jinya
  138. Tamaru Castle
  139. Tanabe Castle
  140. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  141. Tanaka Castle
  142. Tatebayashi Castle
  143. Tatsuno Castle
  144. Tatsuoka Castle
  145. Todoroki Yashiki
  146. Tojo Castle
  147. Tokushima Castle
  148. Tomioka Castle
  149. Torigoe Castle
  150. Tottori Castle
  151. Toyama Castle
  152. Toyooka Jinya
  153. Tsu Castle
  154. Tsuchiura Castle
  155. Ueda Castle
  156. Usuki Castle
  157. Uwajima Castle
  158. Wakayama Castle
  159. Yamagata Castle
  160. Yamaguchi Castle
  161. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  162. Yuzawa Castle
  163. Yuzuki Castle
  164. Zeze Castle
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