Trenches

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Trenches / 空堀

This is a subtype of Features

Trenches, earthworks, empty moats, or dry moats cover a wide range of trench like fortifications around castles. In flatland castles they are often similar in structure to water moats but without the water. Both water moats or dry trenches have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. it can be harder for intruders to hide in a dry moat and no natural water sounds to disguise entry. The slick clay sides of many castles in the Kanto region were especially slippery and difficult to climb.

When you see a lot of photos on this site or visit these locations yourself you may think these trenches wouldn't be much of a deterrent but keep in mind that they have probably filled with leaves and dirt and been eroded significantly over the last 400 years. What is now a meter or less deep may have been two or three times that deep at one time.

Some terms related to trenches that you may see include:


Horikiri (堀切)

this is a deep trench cut across a mountain ridge to impede attackers from easily climbing the ridge. You see a lot of these on the path to mountaintop castles and it's usually the first sign that you've entered a castle. Unless a signs there to point them out or you are used to seeing them you might not notice them but if you think about it, such a sudden steep dip in the ridge is unnatural.

Kuma4.jpg Washio26.jpg


Yokobori (横堀)

a horizontal trench across a slope or mountain. It can also provide an easier route for defenders to cross a slope.

Koshigoe9.jpg Iwabitsu33.jpg


Tatebori (竪堀)

a vertical trench running up and down a slope. It can be used to impede attackers from easily crossing a slope and can force them into a kill zone.

Iwabitsu34.jpg Haibara16.jpg


Unejotatebori (畝状竪堀)

several tatebori across one slope on a mountaintop castle. They may be difficult to see if the are running down the steep side of a castle you may not be able to get to them.

Jofukuji26.jpg Kuma23.jpg


Shojibori (障子堀)

a wider trench with square depressions carved out. It forces attackers to either walk the narrow ridges and be easily fired upon or scale up and down the walls putting them in vulnerable positions and using energy.

Yamanaka7.jpg Yamanaka8.jpg


Unebori (畝堀)

A trench with ridges across them. This is similar in design to the shojibori but instead of a "waffle" like design it is only a single row of dugout depressions.

Kawamura3.jpg Kawamura9.jpg


Empty Moats

These are the moats you are more likely to see on flatland castles. They re similar in size and shape to water moats but without the water.

150px Sakura2.jpg

Castles with Trenches

  1. Aizu Odayama Castle
  2. Akizuki Castle
  3. Akutagawasan Castle
  4. Ansho Castle
  5. Aoyagi Castle
  6. Aoyama Castle
  7. Arikoyama Castle
  8. Asaba Castle
  9. Asahi Castle
  10. Ashigara Castle
  11. Asonuma Castle
  12. Asuke Castle
  13. Azuchi Castle
  14. Azumi Kameyama Castle
  15. Azumi Nishiyama Castle
  16. Baba Yashiki
  17. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  18. Bitchu Takamatsu Castle
  19. Chigasaki Castle
  20. Chihaya Castle
  21. Echizen Ohno Castle
  22. Ema Yakata
  23. Fujihashi Castle (Tokyo)
  24. Fujita Castle
  25. Fukazawa Castle
  26. Funaoka Castle
  27. Funayama Castle
  28. Futamata Castle
  29. Futoge Castle
  30. Ganjaku Castle
  31. Gassan Toda Castle
  32. Gifu Castle
  33. Gion Castle
  34. Gobara Castle
  35. Gokan Castle
  36. Hachigata Castle
  37. Hachioji Castle
  38. Hagi Castle
  39. Haibara Castle
  40. Hakusan Castle
  41. Hakusan Castle (Harima)
  42. Hamada Castle
  43. Hanamaki Castle
  44. Hanawa Castle
  45. Hanazono Castle
  46. Hanazono Mitake Castle
  47. Hasedo Castle
  48. Hayashikojo Castle
  49. Hayashiohjo Castle
  50. Hekirichi Jinya
  51. Hida Kojima Castle
  52. Hirai Castle
  53. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  54. Hyakusaiji Castle
  55. Ichinomiya Castle
  56. Imai Castle
  57. Inukai Castle
  58. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  59. Ishigami Castle
  60. Isobe Castle
  61. Iwabitsu Castle
  62. Iwamura Castle
  63. Izu Nagahama Castle
  64. Jindaiji Castle
  65. Jofukuji Castle
  66. Kanaiyama Castle
  67. Kanao Yogaisan Castle
  68. Kanayama Castle
  69. Kanazawa Castle
  70. Kanegasaki Castle (Iwate)
  71. Kannonji Castle
  72. Karakai Castle
  73. Karasawayama Castle
  74. Karasuyama Castle
  75. Kasama Castle
  76. Kasane Castle
  77. Kaseyama Castle
  78. Kashiwara Castle
  79. Kasugayama Castle
  80. Kasumi Castle
  81. Katsunuma Castle
  82. Katsunumashi Yakata
  83. Kawahara Castle
  84. Kawamura Castle
  85. Kazurayama Castle
  86. Kirihara Castle
  87. Kita Kumai Castle
  88. Kogane Castle
  89. Kokokuji Castle
  90. Komaki Castle
  91. Komoro Castle
  92. Konomine Castle
  93. Konosumiyama Castle
  94. Koriyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  95. Koshigoe Castle
  96. Koyama Castle
  97. Kozukue Castle
  98. Kubota Castle
  99. Kuma Castle
  100. Kumamoto Castle
  101. Kunohe Castle
  102. Kurobane Castle
  103. Kururi Castle
  104. Kuwabara Castle
  105. Mariko Castle
  106. Masugatayama Castle
  107. Masuo Castle
  108. Matsuida Castle
  109. Matsukura Castle
  110. Matsuo Castle
  111. Matsuyama Castle (Gunma)
  112. Matsuyama Castle (Saitama)
  113. Minagawa Castle
  114. Minami Kumai Castle
  115. Minokubi Castle
  116. Minowa Castle
  117. Mito Castle
  118. Morioka Castle
  119. Moriya Castle
  120. Moriyama Castle
  121. Moroto Castle
  122. Motosakura Castle
  123. Motosu Castle
  124. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  125. Mumo Castle
  126. Musashi Masugatayama Castle
  127. Mutsu Iwasaki Castle
  128. Myogi Castle
  129. Nabekura Castle
  130. Naegi Castle
  131. Nagashino Castle
  132. Nagoya Castle
  133. Nagurumi Castle
  134. Naka Castle
  135. Nakahara Yakata
  136. Narisawa Castle
  137. Nasu Kanda Castle
  138. Nata Castle
  139. Niitakayama Castle
  140. Nirayama Castle
  141. Nishikata Castle
  142. Nochiseyama Castle
  143. Numata Castle
  144. Oba Castle
  145. Obata Castle
  146. Obata Jin'ya
  147. Obiki Castle
  148. Oda Castle
  149. Odaka Castle
  150. Odani Castle
  151. Odano Castle
  152. Odawara Castle
  153. Oeda Castle
  154. Ogawa Castle
  155. Ogimachi Castle
  156. Ogoe Castle
  157. Oguchi Castle
  158. Ogura Castle
  159. Ohkusa Castle
  160. Okami Castle
  161. Okkoshi Castle
  162. Oko Castle
  163. Omori Castle
  164. Oogo Castle
  165. Oohara Castle
  166. Oomizo Castle
  167. Ori Castle
  168. Osaka Castle (Ibaraki)
  169. Otawara Castle
  170. Owari Ohno Castle
  171. Rikan Castle
  172. Ryusenji Castle
  173. Saimyoji Castle
  174. Sakasai Castle
  175. Sakata Castle
  176. Sakura Castle
  177. Sanada Palace
  178. Sanadahonjo Castle
  179. Sano Castle
  180. Sasao Castle
  181. Sasayama Castle
  182. Sashiki Castle
  183. Seiryuin
  184. Sekinomori Castle
  185. Senpuku Castle
  186. Setagaya Castle
  187. Shakujii Castle
  188. Shigiyama Castle
  189. Shimizu Castle
  190. Shinpu Castle
  191. Shishiku Castle
  192. Shiwa Castle
  193. Soma Nakamura Castle
  194. Sugaya Yakata
  195. Sugiyama Castle
  196. Suwahara Castle
  197. Tage Castle
  198. Takaharasuwa Castle
  199. Takai Castle
  200. Takane Castle
  201. Takatenjin Castle
  202. Takato Castle
  203. Takatome Castle
  204. Takatori Castle
  205. Takatsuki Castle (Tokyo)
  206. Takayama Castle (Gifu)
  207. Takayama Castle (Hiroshima)
  208. Takeda Castle
  209. Takei Castle
  210. Taki Castle
  211. Takiyama Castle
  212. Tamaru Castle
  213. Tanagura Castle
  214. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  215. Tatsuno Castle
  216. Tenjinyama Castle
  217. Tenjinyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  218. Tenpaku Castle
  219. Tobiyama Castle
  220. Toishi Castle
  221. Tokiwa Castle
  222. Tokura Castle
  223. Tonomi-no-saku
  224. Torigoe Castle
  225. Torinji Castle
  226. Tsukui Castle
  227. Tsumagi Castle
  228. Tsumago Castle
  229. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  230. Tsuwano Castle
  231. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  232. Ueda Castle
  233. Uehara Castle
  234. Ushiku Castle
  235. Usui Castle
  236. Usuida Shukuuchi Fort
  237. Washi Castle
  238. Washio Castle
  239. Yagi Castle
  240. Yamabe Castle
  241. Yamagami Castle
  242. Yamagata Castle
  243. Yamagata Castle (Hitachi)
  244. Yamanaka Castle
  245. Yamazaki Castle
  246. Yanagawa Castle
  247. Yato Castle
  248. Yogaisan Castle
  249. Yoshida Castle
  250. Yoshida Castle (Ibaraki)
  251. Yoshinogari
  252. Yumurayama Castle
  253. Yunagaya Jin'ya
  254. Yuzawa Castle
  255. Yuzuki Castle
  256. Zen Castle
  257. Zeze Castle
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