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Walls / 塀

This is a subtype of Features

Dobei are the white walls you commonly see at castles. They are the simplest and most inexpensive defenses available. Dobei originally lined the top of most moats, stone walls and encircled most of the baileys linking together gates and yagura. Many castles had at least one kilometer of walls and Edo Castle had more than 10km. Despite the fact that there were so many such walls during the Edo Period, if you added up all the extant walls today you would only find a little over a kilometer. The majority of extant walls are at Himeji Castle and the longest single extant section is the Nagabei at Kumamoto Castle. These walls evolved from simple structures of wooden planks nailed to a fence. The walls were strengthened and thickened to prevent arrows from piercing them, to prevent fire and later to prevent bullets from easily passing through.

Nagoya11.jpg Kanazawa19.jpg Kofu5.jpg Sakasai15.jpg

<a href="/castle/profile/32-Himeji-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/dobei5.jpg"></a>Himeji Castle <a href="/photos/view/1052"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/kanazawa/kanazawa19-h.jpg"></a>Kanazawa Castle <a href="/photos/view/181"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/kofu/kofu5-h.jpg"></a>Kofu Castle <a href="/photos/view/1051"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/sakasai/sakasai15-h.jpg"></a>Sakasai Castle <a href="/photos/view/662"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/takashima-hei.jpg"></a>Takashima Castle


Dobei walls are built by erecting pillars approximately 1.5 meters apart. In between the pillars is a lattice of bamboo or wood strips. Mud and clay were then layered over this lattice up to about 20cm thick. The clay was often mixed with some strong Japanese grass (wara) for added strength and to prevent cracks. Earlier forms of these walls were not covered in plaster which gave them a sandy yellow color. In the picture above from Sakasai Castle you can see a wall with no plaster that shows this yellow color and you can also make out some grasses embedded in the clay. Edo Period dobei were usually covered in hard white plaster which increased their strength and helped prevent weathering. Atop the wall they had tile roofs and often had loopholes for firing arrows or guns. Walls also frequently had support posts behind them to increase their strength especially for walls along the top of stone walls or other places where the foundation was not as solid. Some walls also contained strategically placed rock chutes to drop rocks on attackers. Click the pictures below to enlarge these displays of wall construction.

<a href="/images/resource/dobei/dobei3.jpg" rel="lightbox-d" title="display at Utsunomiya Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/dobei3s.jpg"></a>Display at Utsunomiya Castle <a href="/images/resource/dobei/dobei1.jpg" rel="lightbox-d" title="display at Kanazawa Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/dobei1s.jpg"></a>Display at Kanazawa Castle <a href="/images/resource/dobei/dobei2.jpg" rel="lightbox-d" title="display at Odawara Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/dobei2s.jpg"></a>Display at Odawara Castle
<a href="/images/resource/dobei/dobei4.jpg" rel="lightbox-d" title="display at Utsunomiya Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/dobei4s.jpg"></a>Display at Utsunomiya Castle


There are some extant variations of these walls that can be divided into neribei and tuijibei. Neither of these have the kind of wooden pillars or interior framework of the usual walls. Neribei are constructed from dried clay bricks or old tiles that are mortared together with clay and covered with a layer of hard plaster. Neribei were employed at Himeji and Bitchu Matsuyama castles to quickly build some walls.

Tuijibei are made from pounding a mixture sand and clay in 3-5 cm layers. They are about 1 meter thick and up to 3 meters tall. They have a distinctive wooden framework on the outside and are topped with a tile roof. These are very strong walls, but their thickness makes it impossible to build in loopholes and they are very time and labor intensive to build. For these reasons they were not commonly used at castles. There is a small section by the Mizu no Ichi gate at Himeji Castle and the Ninomaru of Nijo Castle is surrounded by impressive Tsuijibei.

<a href="/photos/view/211-Himeji-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/himeji/himeji7-h.jpg"></a>Himeji Castle <a href="/photos/view/1050-Nijo-Castle"><img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/nijo/nijo17-h.jpg"></a>Nijo Castle

Loopholes sama (狭間)

Loopholes were holes built into the walls for firing arrows or guns. These are an important defensive structure and we see records of them dating back to the Heian Period. Loopholes designed for arrows were generally rectangles on end and those for firearms were circles, triangles, or squares. Some loopholes were hidden by a door or plug that matched the surface on the outside to prevent detection by attackers. These are called kakushizama.

<img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/hei-sama.jpg"></a>3 loophole types at Himeji Castle <img src="http://media.jcastle.info/images/resource/dobei/kakushizama.jpg"></a>Hidden loophole at Hikone Castle

Castles with Walls

  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Akita Castle
  4. Akizuki Castle
  5. Ako Castle
  6. Amagajo
  7. Amagasaki Castle
  8. Aoyagi Castle
  9. Asuke Castle
  10. Baba Yashiki
  11. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  12. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  13. Edo Castle
  14. Ema Yakata
  15. Fukuchiyama Castle
  16. Fukui Castle
  17. Fukuyama Castle
  18. Funai Castle
  19. Fushimi Castle
  20. Ganjaku Castle
  21. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  22. Hachigata Castle
  23. Hagi Castle
  24. Hamamatsu Castle
  25. Hanamaki Castle
  26. Hikone Castle
  27. Himeji Castle
  28. Hirosaki Castle
  29. Hiroshima Castle
  30. Hizen Kashima Castle
  31. Hotta no Saku
  32. Ichijodani Castle
  33. Iga Ueno Castle
  34. Iida Castle
  35. Iijima Jin'ya
  36. Ikeda Castle
  37. Imabari Castle
  38. Iwamura Castle
  39. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  40. Izushi Castle
  41. Kakegawa Castle
  42. Kaminoyama Castle
  43. Kamioka Castle
  44. Kanazawa Castle
  45. Katsumoto Castle
  46. Kawahara Castle
  47. Kishiwada Castle
  48. Kiyosu Castle
  49. Kofu Castle
  50. Koiwatake Castle
  51. Kokura Castle
  52. Kumamoto Castle
  53. Marugame Castle
  54. Maruoka Castle
  55. Matsue Castle
  56. Matsumae Castle
  57. Matsumoto Castle
  58. Matsushiro Castle
  59. Miki Castle
  60. Minakuchi Castle
  61. Nabari Jinya
  62. Nagisa Castle
  63. Nagoya Castle
  64. Nakatsu Castle
  65. Ne Castle
  66. Nihonmatsu Castle
  67. Nijo Castle
  68. Nishio Castle
  69. Obata Jin'ya
  70. Obi Castle
  71. Odawara Castle
  72. Ogaki Castle
  73. Oguchi Castle
  74. Ohmine Castle
  75. Okayama Castle
  76. Osaka Castle
  77. Oshi Castle
  78. Otaki Castle
  79. Saga Castle
  80. Sakasai Castle
  81. Sannohe Castle
  82. Sasayama Castle
  83. Sekiyado Castle
  84. Sendai Castle
  85. Shibata Castle
  86. Shimabara Castle
  87. Shirakawa Castle
  88. Shiroishi Castle
  89. Shiwa Castle
  90. Sonobe Castle
  91. Sunpu Castle
  92. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  93. Takamatsu Castle
  94. Takane Castle
  95. Takasaki Castle
  96. Takashima Castle
  97. Takayama Jin'ya
  98. Tanabe Castle
  99. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  100. Tanaka Castle
  101. Tatebayashi Castle
  102. Tatsuno Castle
  103. Tatsuoka Castle
  104. Tomioka Castle
  105. Torigoe Castle
  106. Toyama Castle
  107. Tsu Castle
  108. Tsuchiura Castle
  109. Tsukikuma Castle
  110. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  111. Tsuyama Castle
  112. Ueda Castle
  113. Usuki Castle
  114. Utsunomiya Castle
  115. Wakayama Castle
  116. Yamagata Castle
  117. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  118. Yuzuki Castle
  119. Zeze Castle
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