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Turrets (Yagura) / 櫓

This is a subtype of Features

The Japanese term yagura literally means a storehouse (kura) for arrows (ya), but yagura were used to store all manner of weapons, food and supplies. Yagura were not just storehouses, but vital defensive platforms and lookout towers that were placed at strategic locations throughout the castle. Most corners of a bailey had a yagura, often called a sumi yagura (corner yagura). These corners provided a wide field of view and two sides for flanking fire. The corner yagura also protected the vulnerable corners of stone walls which were much easier to climb than the straight sheer sides.


You can sometimes guess what was stored in a yagura or its purpose from the name: Teppo Yagura (guns), Hata Yagura (flags), Yari Yagura (spears), Shio Yagura (salt), among many others. There were also other special function yagura such as Taiko Yagura which kept a drum to sound out the time, Tsukimi Yagura for viewing the moon, and Ido Yagura for housing a well. Sumi Yagura (corner yagura) often had special naming conventions too. They were named according to the 12 signs of the zodiac as placed on the face of a clock. So with north at 12 o'clock a northwest yagura was called Ushitora Yagura, a southeast yagura was Tatsumi Yagura, southwest was Hitsujisaru Yagura and Northwest was Inui Yagura.


Yagura were mostly built in the sotogata style, with the same characteristics of many main keep. Sotogata have a square base with each level a size smaller than the lower one. There are few extant yagura in the borogata style, but some examples are: <a href="/photos/view/420-Kumamoto-Castle">Utoyagura</a> (Kumamoto Castle), Nohara Yagura (Iyo Matsuyama Castle) and the <a href="/photos/view/453-Fukuyama-Castle">Fushimi Yagura</a> of Fukuyama Castle. See the <a href="/resources/view/15-Donjon">main keep page</a> for more details about these structure types.

<a href="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/yagura/yagura1.jpg" rel="lightbox-d" title="display at Utsunomiya Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/yagura/yagura1s.jpg"></a>Display at Utsunomiya Castle

Seiroyagura (井楼櫓)

Seiroyagura is one of the earlier forms of yagura. It is a simple structure made from wooden beams in a square. They were used as watchtowers in earlier castles and were erected on the battlefield to provide commanders with a better view.

<a href="/photos/view/804-Sakasai-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/sakasai/sakasai2-h.jpg" />Sakasai Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/829-Arato-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/arato/arato7-h.jpg" />Arato Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/1157-Takane-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/takane/takane4-h.jpg" />Takane Castle</a>

3 level yagura (三重櫓)

main keeps are basically really big yagura that evolved to 3 or more levels. Especially, in eastern Japan many castles built a large 3 level yagura in place of a main keep. Such main keep were also called gosankai yagura. The main keep of Hirosaki Castle and Marugame Castle are actually 3 level yagura. At Edo Castle, the 3 level Fujimi Yagura was used in place of the main keep after it burned down too.

Typical 3 level yagura
<a href="/castle/profile/35-Edo-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/edo/edo1-h.jpg" />Edo Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/483-Takamatsu-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/takamatsu/takamatsu4-h.jpg" />Takamatsu Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/453-Fukuyama-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/fukuyama/fukuyama14-h.jpg" />Fukuyama Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/343-Nagoya-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/nagoya/nagoya7-h.jpg" />Nagoya Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/253-Hikone-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/hikone/hikone9-h.jpg" />Hikone Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/1283-Hirosaki-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/hirosaki/hirosaki9-h.jpg" />Hirosaki Castle</a>
Gosankai Yagura
<a href="/castle/profile/43-Hirosaki-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/hirosaki/hirosaki13-h.jpg" />Hirosaki Castle</a> <a href="/castle/profile/48-Kakegawa-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/kakegawa/kakegawa3-h.jpg" />Kakegawa Castle</a> <a href="/castle/profile/65-Shiroishi-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/shiroishi/shiroishi1-h.jpg" />Shiroishi Castle</a> <a href="/castle/profile/64-Shirakawa-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/shirakawa/shirakawa9-h.jpg" />Shirakawa Castle</a>

2 Level Yagura (二重櫓)

2 level yagura is the most typical yagura type and there are many surviving examples throughout the country. You see lots of unique shapes and uses for these yagura.

<a href="/photos/view/232-Edo-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/edo/edo3-h.jpg" />Edo Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/359-Nijo-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/nijo/nijo4-h.jpg" />Nijo Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/339-Nagoya-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/nagoya/nagoya3-h.jpg" />Nagoya Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/220-Iyo-Matsuyama-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/matsuyama/matsuyama6-h.jpg" />Iyo Matsuyama Castle</a>

1 level yagura

Hirayagura (平櫓)

This is the simplest yagura type. It's too short to be used as a lookout tower and not usually used as a sumiyagura. Hirayagura is most frequently used on the edge of an outer bailey like a sannomaru bailey that has no dirt walls. It is also frequently used as a connecting yagura to join gates, larger yagura or main keep.

<a href="/photos/view/813-sakasai-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/sakasai/sakasai14-h.jpg" />Sakasai Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/328-Matsumoto-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/matsumoto/matsumoto7-h.jpg" />Matsumoto Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/799-Iyo-Matsuyama-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/matsuyama/matsuyama13-h.jpg" />Matsuyama Castle</a>

Tamonyagura (多門櫓)

Tamonyagura is a hirayagura that has been stretched out. It can be used in place of dirt walls atop moats and embankments. Tamonyagura are often found connected to corner sumiyagura or main keep. They can be used to store goods, but also function as a very strong defensive platform.

<a href="/photos/view/246-Hikone-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/hikone/hikone2-h.jpg" />Hikone Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/220-Iyo-Matsuyama-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/matsuyama/matsuyama6-h.jpg" />Iyo Matsuyama Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/469-Fukuoka-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/fukuoka/fukuoka8-h.jpg" />Fukuoka Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/208-Himeji-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/himeji/himeji20-h.jpg" />Himeji Castle</a>

Castles with Turrets (Yagura)

  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Ako Castle
  4. Akozu Castle
  5. Amagajo
  6. Aoyagi Castle
  7. Asuke Castle
  8. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  9. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  10. Echizen Ohno Castle
  11. Edo Castle
  12. Fujita Castle
  13. Fukuchiyama Castle
  14. Fukuyama Castle
  15. Funai Castle
  16. Fushimi Castle
  17. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  18. Haga Castle
  19. Hikone Castle
  20. Himeji Castle
  21. Hirado Castle
  22. Hirosaki Castle
  23. Hiroshima Castle
  24. Hitoyoshi Castle
  25. Hotta no Saku
  26. Iga Ueno Castle
  27. Ikeda Castle
  28. Imabari Castle
  29. Innoshima Suigun castle
  30. Inuyama Castle
  31. Iwamura Castle
  32. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  33. Izu Nagahama Castle
  34. Izushi Castle
  35. Kakegawa Castle
  36. Kameyama Castle
  37. Kaminoyama Castle
  38. Kanazawa Castle
  39. Kasama Castle
  40. Kikuchi Castle
  41. Kishiwada Castle
  42. Kochi Castle
  43. Kofu Castle
  44. Kokura Castle
  45. Komoro Castle
  46. Koromo Castle
  47. Koyama Castle
  48. Kubota Castle
  49. Kumamoto Castle
  50. Kushima Castle
  51. Kuwana Castle
  52. Marugame Castle
  53. Matsue Castle
  54. Matsumae Castle
  55. Matsumoto Castle
  56. Matsushiro Castle
  57. Minakuchi Castle
  58. Nagoya Castle
  59. Nakatsu Castle
  60. Nihonmatsu Castle
  61. Nijo Castle
  62. Nishio Castle
  63. Numata Castle
  64. Odawara Castle
  65. Ogaki Castle
  66. Oguchi Castle
  67. Okayama Castle
  68. Omori Castle
  69. Osaka Castle
  70. Oshi Castle
  71. Otaki Castle
  72. Owari Ohno Castle
  73. Ozu Castle
  74. Sakasai Castle
  75. Sannohe Castle
  76. Sekiyado Castle
  77. Sendai Castle
  78. Shibata Castle
  79. Shimabara Castle
  80. Shirakawa Castle
  81. Shiroishi Castle
  82. Shiwa Castle
  83. Sonobe Castle
  84. Sunpu Castle
  85. Tahara Castle
  86. Takamatsu Castle
  87. Takane Castle
  88. Takasaki Castle
  89. Takashima Castle
  90. Takato Castle
  91. Tanabe Castle
  92. Tanaka Castle
  93. Tatsuno Castle
  94. Tatsuoka Castle
  95. Tojo Castle
  96. Tokiwa Castle
  97. Tomioka Castle
  98. Toyama Castle
  99. Tsu Castle
  100. Tsuchiura Castle
  101. Tsuyama Castle
  102. Ueda Castle
  103. Usuki Castle
  104. Utsunomiya Castle
  105. Uwajima Castle
  106. Wakayama Castle
  107. Yamagata Castle
  108. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  109. Yoshinogari
  110. Zeze Castle
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