Trenches

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Trenches / 空堀

This is a subtype of Features

The term karabori Trenches in general covers a wide range of trench like fortifications around castles and may also be called trenches, ditches, empty moats, or dry moats in English. Karabori are dug to prevent attackers from easily entering or moving around a castle. There are also various subtypes depending on the location in the castle and orientation such as horizontal, vertical or across a mountain ridge. There are also subtypes depending on structure like unebori and shouji-bori. 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. For example, it can be harder for intruders to hide in a dry moat and there no natural water sounds that might disguise entry. The slick clay sides of many castles in the Kanto region were especially slippery and difficult to climb. I have had a difficult time even in hiking boots getting up only slight slope where there is no grass for traction. On the other hand, water moats, where feasible, can be a good psychological deterrent. Attackers don't know how deep they are or what is underneath. A wet intruder will likely leave a trail and they will need to expend more energy to get across.

When you see photos or visit these locations yourself you may think that these trenches are shallow and would not be much of a deterrent but keep in mind that they have filled with leaves and dirt and have 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 there are signs to point them out or you are familiar with seeing horikiri you might not notice them at all. But, if you think about it, such a sudden steep dip in a ridge is very 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 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 parallel tatebori across one slope on a mountaintop castle. They may be difficult to see if the are on a steep side of the castle that you cannot get to.

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 slick clay walls putting them in vulnerable positions and using a lot of physical energy. These are often attributed to the Hojo but the Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle had great shojibori too. Unfortunately you can not longer see them. The only really good shojibori you can see today are at Yamanaka Castle in Shizuoka but many more have been excavated and reburied over the years.

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 (空堀)

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

150px Sakura2.jpg Osaka22.jpg

Castles with Trenches

  1. Aizu Odayama Castle
  2. Akagi Kita Castle
  3. Akagi Minami Castle
  4. Akatsuka Castle
  5. Akizuki Castle
  6. Akutagawasan Castle
  7. Ansho Castle
  8. Aoyagi Castle
  9. Aoyama Castle
  10. Aragaito Fort
  11. Arashi Castle
  12. Arikoyama Castle
  13. Aruga Castle
  14. Asaba Castle
  15. Asahi Castle
  16. Ashigara Castle
  17. Asonuma Castle
  18. Asuke Castle
  19. Azuchi Castle
  20. Azumi Kameyama Castle
  21. Azumi Kitsune Castle
  22. Azumi Nagao Castle
  23. Azumi Nishimaki Castle
  24. Azumi Nishiyama Castle
  25. Azumi Ogiwara Castle
  26. Azumi Ogura Castle
  27. Azumi Oshino Castle
  28. Azumi Taya Castle
  29. Baba Yashiki
  30. Bingo Kouyama Castle
  31. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  32. Bitchu Takamatsu Castle
  33. Chigasaki Castle
  34. Chihaya Castle
  35. Chikuma Awaji Castle
  36. Chikuma Koya Castle
  37. Chikuma Kushiki Castle
  38. Chikuma Motoyama Castle
  39. Chikuma Osaka Castle
  40. Chikuma Takasu Castle
  41. Chikuma Takayama Castle
  42. Chikuma Takeda Castle
  43. Chikuma Tazawa Castle
  44. Chikuma Ueda Castle
  45. Chikuma Uenoyama Castle
  46. Chikuzen Sakata Castle
  47. Chojayama Castle
  48. Choujayashiki Yakata
  49. Dainenji Yakata
  50. Echizen Ohno Castle
  51. Ema Yakata
  52. Fujihashi Castle (Tokyo)
  53. Fujita Castle
  54. Fukakusa Yakata
  55. Fukazawa Castle
  56. Fukuyo Castle
  57. Funaoka Castle
  58. Funaokayama Castle
  59. Funayama Castle
  60. Furuwatari Castle
  61. Futamata Castle
  62. Futoge Castle
  63. Futohyama Castle
  64. Ganjaku Castle
  65. Gassan Toda Castle
  66. Gifu Castle
  67. Gion Castle
  68. Gobara Castle
  69. Gokan Castle
  70. Haba Castle
  71. Hachigata Castle
  72. Hachikenchōja Castle
  73. Hachioji Castle
  74. Hagi Castle
  75. Hagikura Fort
  76. Haibara Castle
  77. Hakusan Castle
  78. Hakusan Castle (Harima)
  79. Hamada Castle
  80. Hanamaki Castle
  81. Hanawa Castle
  82. Hanazono Castle
  83. Hanazono Mitake Castle
  84. Hanishina Terao Castle
  85. Haranomoto Castle
  86. Hasedo Castle
  87. Hatakenaka Yakata
  88. Hatayama Castle
  89. Hatsuzawa Castle
  90. Hayaotoshi Castle
  91. Hayashikojo Castle
  92. Hayashiohjo Castle
  93. Hekirichi Jinya
  94. Hida Kojima Castle
  95. Hikaru Castle
  96. Hikobe Yashiki
  97. Hirai Castle
  98. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  99. Hirase Castle
  100. Hirase Kitano Castle
  101. Hisawa Castle
  102. Hishakuyama Castle
  103. Hitachi Yorii Castle
  104. Horigane Yakata
  105. Houzouji Yakata
  106. Hyakusaiji Castle
  107. Ibuka Castle
  108. Ichinomiya Castle
  109. Igawa Castle
  110. Iida Castle
  111. Iida Fort
  112. Iinawa Castle
  113. Imai Castle
  114. Ina Akasu Castle
  115. Ina Inamura Castle
  116. Ina Joumura Castle
  117. Ina Kasuga Castle
  118. Ina Kitano Castle
  119. Ina Kiyomizu Castle
  120. Ina Koide Castle
  121. Ina Kokuro Castle
  122. Ina Konishi Castle
  123. Ina Korin Castle
  124. Ina Kurata Castle
  125. Ina Matsuo Castle
  126. Ina Matsushima Castle
  127. Ina Minowa Castle
  128. Ina Muraoka Castle
  129. Ina Nagayama Castle
  130. Ina Nakagome Castle
  131. Ina Ohkubo Castle
  132. Ina Omotegi Castle
  133. Ina Ryuugasaki Castle
  134. Ina Shimono Castle
  135. Ina Sokura Castle
  136. Ina Suganuma Castle
  137. Ina Suzuoka Castle
  138. Ina Takada Castle
  139. Ina Tanagi Castle
  140. Ina Yasuoka Castle
  141. Ina Yoshioka Castle
  142. Inamurafuru Castle
  143. Inuinofuru Castle
  144. Inukai Castle
  145. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  146. Ishigami Castle
  147. Isobe Castle
  148. Itazuke Moated Settlement
  149. Itousakaue Fort
  150. Iwabitsu Castle
  151. Iwadono Castle
  152. Iwakiri Castle
  153. Iwamura Castle
  154. Izu Nagahama Castle
  155. Jindaiji Castle
  156. Jofukuji Castle
  157. Joujou Castle
  158. Joumurafuru Castle
  159. Jounoue Fort
  160. Kaesa Castle
  161. Kamaenohaka Yakata
  162. Kamagatake Castle
  163. Kamimakifuru Castle
  164. Kamogatake Castle
  165. Kanaiyama Castle
  166. Kanao Yogaisan Castle
  167. Kanayama Castle
  168. Kanazawa Castle
  169. Kanegasaki Castle (Iwate)
  170. Kannonji Castle
  171. Karakai Castle
  172. Karasaki Castle
  173. Karasawayama Castle
  174. Karasuyama Castle
  175. Kariya Castle
  176. Kasama Castle
  177. Kasane Castle
  178. Kaseyama Castle
  179. Kashiwara Castle
  180. Kasugayama Castle
  181. Kasumi Castle
  182. Katsunuma Castle
  183. Katsunumashi Yakata
  184. Katsuyama Castle (Tsuru)
  185. Kawahara Castle
  186. Kawamura Castle
  187. Kazurayama Castle
  188. Kikkawa Motoharu Yakata
  189. Kirihara Castle
  190. Kiso Fukushima Castle
  191. Kita Kumai Castle
  192. Kitabatakeshi Yakata
  193. Kogane Castle
  194. Koike Fort
  195. Koiwatake Castle
  196. Kokokuji Castle
  197. Komaki Castle
  198. Komoro Castle
  199. Konomine Castle
  200. Konosumiyama Castle
  201. Koori Nishiyama Castle
  202. Koriyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  203. Koshigoe Castle
  204. Koyama Castle
  205. Kozukue Castle
  206. Kubota Castle
  207. Kuma Castle
  208. Kumamoto Castle
  209. Kunohe Castle
  210. Kurita Castle
  211. Kurobane Castle
  212. Kuroi Castle
  213. Kururi Castle
  214. Kutsukake Castle
  215. Kuwabara Castle
  216. Maeda Battery
  217. Mamabe Castle
  218. Manago Castle
  219. Mariko Castle
  220. Masugatayama Castle
  221. Masuo Castle
  222. Matsudaira Castle
  223. Matsuida Castle
  224. Matsukura Castle
  225. Matsuo Castle
  226. Matsuyama Castle (Gunma)
  227. Matsuyama Castle (Saitama)
  228. Meiseireijin Fort
  229. Minagawa Castle
  230. Minami Kumai Castle
  231. Minami Majino Castle
  232. Minami Sakaide Castle
  233. Minamoto no Tsunemoto Yakata
  234. Minebata Castle
  235. Minochi Aiki Castle
  236. Minochi Masugata Castle
  237. Minokubi Castle
  238. Minowa Castle
  239. Mito Castle
  240. Miyahara Castle
  241. Mizuban Castle
  242. Mizuki
  243. Mogusa Castle
  244. Morioka Castle
  245. Moriya Castle
  246. Moriyama Castle
  247. Moroto Castle
  248. Motosakura Castle
  249. Motosu Castle
  250. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  251. Mumo Castle
  252. Murakami Kamei Castle
  253. Murakami Kemurino Castle
  254. Murakami Kokuzousan Castle
  255. Murakami Monomi Castle
  256. Murakami Takatsuya Castle
  257. Murakami Torikoya Castle
  258. Murakami Tsumi Castle
  259. Murakami Wagou Castle
  260. Musashi Masugatayama Castle
  261. Musashi Tenjin'yama Castle
  262. Mutsu Iwasaki Castle
  263. Myogi Castle
  264. Nabekura Castle
  265. Naegi Castle
  266. Nagabayashi Fort
  267. Nagashino Castle
  268. Nagato Aoyama Castle
  269. Nagato Katsuyama Castle
  270. Nagoya Castle
  271. Nagurumi Castle
  272. Najima Castle
  273. Naka Castle
  274. Nakagaya Yakata
  275. Nakahara Yakata
  276. Nakasai Castle
  277. Nakatou Castle
  278. Narisawa Castle
  279. Nasu Kanda Castle
  280. Nata Castle
  281. Negoya Castle
  282. Niitakayama Castle
  283. Nijo Castle (Tochigi)
  284. Nirayama Castle
  285. Nishijo Castle
  286. Nishikata Castle
  287. Nishina Castle
  288. Nochiseyama Castle
  289. Numata Castle
  290. Oba Castle
  291. Obata Castle
  292. Obata Jin'ya
  293. Obiki Castle
  294. Oda Castle
  295. Odaka Castle
  296. Odani Castle
  297. Odano Castle
  298. Odawara Castle
  299. Odoi
  300. Odori Castle
  301. Oeda Castle
  302. Ogawa Castle
  303. Ogimachi Castle
  304. Ogoe Castle
  305. Oguchi Castle
  306. Ogura Castle
  307. Ogyu Castle
  308. Oh'ide Castle
  309. Oh'idefuru Castle
  310. Ohga Castle
  311. Ohguma Castle
  312. Ohikemurayama Castle
  313. Ohkusa Castle
  314. Ohmine Castle
  315. Oike Fort
  316. Okami Castle
  317. Okkoshi Castle
  318. Oko Castle
  319. Omi Castle
  320. Omifuru Castle
  321. Omori Castle
  322. Oniba Castle
  323. Oogo Castle
  324. Oohara Castle
  325. Oomizo Castle
  326. Ori Castle
  327. Osaka Castle (Ibaraki)
  328. Otawara Castle
  329. Owari Haguro Castle
  330. Owari Ohno Castle
  331. Rikan Castle
  332. Ryusenji Castle
  333. Saimyoji Castle
  334. Sakasai Castle
  335. Sakata Castle
  336. Sakura Castle
  337. Sakurazakaue Fort
  338. Sanada Isezaki Castle
  339. Sanada Negoya Castle
  340. Sanada Palace
  341. Sanada Seba Castle
  342. Sanada Yazawa Castle
  343. Sanadahonjo Castle
  344. Sano Castle
  345. Sarashina Osaka Castle
  346. Sasao Castle
  347. Sasayama Castle
  348. Sashiki Castle
  349. Sasou Castle
  350. Sawayama Castle
  351. Seirin Fort
  352. Seiryuin
  353. Seiryuji Yakata
  354. Sekinomori Castle
  355. Senpuku Castle
  356. Setagaya Castle
  357. Shakujii Castle
  358. Shigiyama Castle
  359. Shimizu Castle
  360. Shimomakifuru Castle
  361. Shimosaka Yakata
  362. Shimura Castle
  363. Shinano Chausuyama Castle
  364. Shingu Castle
  365. Shinpu Castle
  366. Shioda Castle
  367. Shiozaki Castle
  368. Shiozakishin Castle
  369. Shirasawa Fort
  370. Shishiku Castle
  371. Shiwa Castle
  372. Soma Nakamura Castle
  373. Sugaya Yakata
  374. Sugiyama Castle
  375. Suwa Imori Castle
  376. Suwa Kami Castle
  377. Suwa Osaka Castle
  378. Suwa Owa Castle
  379. Suwa Sakura Castle
  380. Suwa Shimo Castle
  381. Suwa Takagi Castle
  382. Suwa Takei Castle
  383. Suwa Tezuka Castle
  384. Suwahara Castle
  385. Tage Castle
  386. Takagifuru Castle
  387. Takagiuchi Castle
  388. Takaharasuwa Castle
  389. Takahata Castle
  390. Takai Castle
  391. Takai Hakoyama Castle
  392. Takamifuru Castle
  393. Takanashi Yakata
  394. Takane Castle
  395. Takasaka Yakata
  396. Takatenjin Castle
  397. Takato Castle
  398. Takatome Castle
  399. Takatori Castle
  400. Takatsuki Castle (Tokyo)
  401. Takayama Castle (Gifu)
  402. Takayama Castle (Hiroshima)
  403. Takeda Castle
  404. Takei Castle
  405. Taki Castle
  406. Takiyama Castle
  407. Tamaru Castle
  408. Tanagura Castle
  409. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  410. Tatsuno Castle
  411. Tekozuka Castle
  412. Tenjinyama Castle
  413. Tenjinyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  414. Tenpaku Castle
  415. Terao Chausuyama Castle
  416. Terao Naka Castle
  417. Teshiro Castle
  418. Toba Yakata
  419. Tobiyama Castle
  420. Todoroki Castle
  421. Toishi Castle
  422. Toishi Iizuna Castle
  423. Tokiwa Castle
  424. Tokura Castle
  425. Tonojima Castle
  426. Tonomi-no-saku
  427. Torigoe Castle
  428. Torinji Castle
  429. Tounohara Castle
  430. Tsukui Castle
  431. Tsumagi Castle
  432. Tsumago Castle
  433. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  434. Tsuwano Castle
  435. Uchigoya Yakata
  436. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  437. Ueda Castle
  438. Uehara Castle
  439. Uenodan Castle
  440. Uenotaira Castle
  441. Uenoyama Castle
  442. Urizura Castle
  443. Ushiku Castle
  444. Usui Castle
  445. Usuida Shukuuchi Fort
  446. Washi Castle
  447. Washio Castle
  448. Washizu Fort
  449. Yagi Castle
  450. Yamabe Castle
  451. Yamabukiko Castle
  452. Yamabukioh Castle
  453. Yamabukiyama Noroshidai
  454. Yamada Castle
  455. Yamagami Castle
  456. Yamagata Castle
  457. Yamagata Castle (Hitachi)
  458. Yamana Castle
  459. Yamanaka Castle
  460. Yamazaki Castle
  461. Yamazaki Castle (Saitama)
  462. Yanagawa Castle
  463. Yanagizakaue Fort
  464. Yashiro Castle
  465. Yato Castle
  466. Yogaisan Castle
  467. Yoshida Castle
  468. Yoshida Castle (Ibaraki)
  469. Yoshinogari
  470. Yoshinohori Yashiki
  471. Yoshinomachi Yakata
  472. Yumurayama Castle
  473. Yunagaya Jin'ya
  474. Yuzawa Castle
  475. Yuzuki Castle
  476. Zen Castle
  477. Zeze Castle
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