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