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Gates / 門

This is a subtype of Features

There are many different types of gates, but the basic construction is the same for all. Two columns (kagamibashira) that hold the gate doors are connected by a crossbeam (kabuki) across the top. Usually, the columns are joined to support pillars (hikaebashira) behind them to help prevent the gate from being pushed over backwards. The rest of the gate construction is developed from the gate's position, function and defensive needs.

Gates were often strategically positioned in the walls of each bailey so that anyone who attempts to enter the castle must zig zag back and forth to reach the inner grounds and the main keep. Gates were often further fortified by bolting metal plates over them for strength.


Yaguramon Gates (yaguramon, yagura gates) are gates with a watchtower or turret atop the gatehouse. These are often large, strong and impressive looking gates. They are frequently used as the inner gate of a masugata and for other important entrance points. Yaguramon were were a safe place to observe the outside and they could be used as defensive platforms with defenders in the top. They were equipped with loopholes and windows to shoot from and the floor in front of the gate could be opened like a rock chute to attack anyone at the doors below. There are 2 types of yaguramon. Watariyagura style uses a watariyagura to span from one stone wall across the gate to another stone wall. The other style is basically a free standing yagura with a gate built into the first floor.

Watariyagura Style

Nijo5.jpg Edo7.jpg Marugame5.jpg Matsuyama27.jpg

Free Standing Yagura Gates

Kochi8.jpg Hirosaki6.jpg Hirosaki12.jpg Tsuchiura8.jpg

Yakuimon (薬医門)

A gate where one roof covers both the main front pillars (kagamibashira) and the rear support pillars (hikaebashira). The roof was necessarily large to cover all four pillars. This is an older style gate that was eventually replaced by Koraimon gates (see below), because it was impractical for defense. The large roof blocked the defenders vision of the outside and it actually shielded any attackers at the doors. There are very few extant examples of yakuimon gates at castles today. The second picture below is an inside view of the gate in the first picture so that you can get a better view of the structure of Yakuimon gates compared to Koraimon gates. The picture from Kakunodate Castle shows a smaller yakuimon in front of a samurai home.

Mito11.jpg Ashikaga7.jpg Kofu10.jpg Marugame63.jpg Obatajinya8.jpg

Koraimon (高麗門)

The front pillars and doors are covered with one small roof and the rear support pillars and support beams are each covered by a separate roof on either side at right angles to the main roof over the front pillars. This type of gate is often used as the outer gate of a masugata. There are two types of Koraimon. The roof of the older style is nearly even with the surrounding walls, while the newer style gate is taller so the roof is up higher than the surrounding walls.

Older Style Koraimon

Nagoya13.jpg Nagoya14.jpg

Newer Style Koraimon

Edo13.jpg Edo76.jpg Matsumoto10.jpg Himeji29.jpg

Munamon (棟門€)

Munamon is a gate with two main pillars covered by a roof. It is similar to the koraimon, but lacks the extra support pillars in the rear making it relatively unstable. It is often wedged in between stone or earthen walls to gain extra support.

Himeji28.jpg Bitchu11.jpg

Tonashimon (戸無し門)

As the name implies, tonashimon is literally a gate with no doors. The only extant gate of this type that I know of is at Iyo Matsuyama Castle. It is basically a koriamon gate with no doors. It is said that this gate was built here atop a long slope at the front of a hairpin curve to trick attackers into thinking it would be an easy way into the castle. Once they pass through the gate and around the curve they are actually met with a large heavily fortified gate.


Kabukimon (冠木門)

This is a gate with only the two front vertical pillars and the one horizontal cross beam. It has doors but no roof. This gate is a formality only and has little or no defensive value.

Ikeda3.jpg Nanbata6.jpg Kakegawa4.jpg

Heijuumon (塀重門)

A heijuumon gate takes the kabukimon a step further and eliminates the cross beam between the two front pillars.


Nagayamon (長屋門)

This is where a gate is passed through a section of a long warehouse. Rooms were easily built on either side of the gate and it was often used as a guardhouse around samurai homes.

Yonago18.jpg Nijo15.jpg Iwamura7.jpg

Karamon (唐門)

An ornate gate with a karahafu style roof. A karahafu is a gable chracterized by the rounded ridge in the center. There are several surviving karamon that were moved from castles to temples, but the only one that I know of that is at a castle is the famous gate from Nijo Castle.

Nijo2.jpg Nijo3.jpg Ichijodani3.jpg

Uzumimon (埋門€)

Uzumimon literally means buried gate. There are two types of uzumimon. In one type, a hole is literally cut through the middle of a completed stone wall. In the second type, when the stone walls are constructed a narrow gap is left for a gate. Then the defensive wall atop the stone wall foundation is run across the gate evenly with the rest. An uzumimon was often used as an emergency exit or as a rear entrance to the castle.

Nagoya15.jpg Odawara15.jpg Himeji14.jpg Matsushiro12.jpg


A masugata is a compound gate made up of 2 gates, most commonly a koraimon on the outside and a yaguramon on the inside. The 2 gates are placed at right angles and joined by walls to create a square enclosure. Any enemy who attempts to enter the castle will be trapped in the box while it tries to breach the strong inner gate. The trapped enemy is then vulnerable to attack from the defenders inside the castle, and lining the walls above.

Edo84.jpg Matsumoto10.jpg Kofu14.jpg Sunpu5.jpg


Castles with Gates
  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Akita Castle
  4. Akizuki Castle
  5. Ako Castle
  6. Amagajo
  7. Annaka Castle
  8. Aoyagi Castle
  9. Ashikagashi Yakata
  10. Asuke Castle
  11. Baba Yashiki
  12. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  13. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  14. Echizen Ohno Castle
  15. Edo Castle
  16. Ema Yakata
  17. Fukuchiyama Castle
  18. Fukui Castle
  19. Fukuyama Castle
  20. Funai Castle
  21. Funaoka Castle
  22. Fushimi Castle
  23. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  24. Hachigata Castle
  25. Hachinohe Castle
  26. Hagi Castle
  27. Hamada Castle
  28. Hamamatsu Castle
  29. Hanamaki Castle
  30. Hatta Yashiki
  31. Hekirichi Jinya
  32. Hikone Castle
  33. Hirado Castle
  34. Hirosaki Castle
  35. Hiroshima Castle
  36. Hitachi Fuchuu Castle
  37. Hitoyoshi Castle
  38. Hizen Kashima Castle
  39. Honshouji Castle
  40. Hotta no Saku
  41. Ibaraki Castle
  42. Ichijodani Castle
  43. Ide Yakata
  44. Iga Ueno Castle
  45. Iida Castle
  46. Iiyama Castle
  47. Ijiri Yashiki
  48. Ikeda Castle
  49. Imabari Castle
  50. Inatsuke Castle
  51. Innoshima Suigun Castle
  52. Inuyama Castle
  53. Isawa Jin'ya
  54. Itoi Jin'ya
  55. Iwaki Taira Castle
  56. Iwakuni Castle
  57. Iwamura Castle
  58. Iwatsuki Castle
  59. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  60. Izu Nagahama Castle
  61. Izuki Jin'ya
  62. Izumi Jin'ya
  63. Izushi Castle
  64. Kai Baba Yashiki
  65. Kai Nishikawa Yashiki
  66. Kaibara Jinya
  67. Kakegawa Castle
  68. Kameda Castle
  69. Kaminoyama Castle
  70. Kamioka Castle
  71. Kanazawa Castle
  72. Kanzou Yashiki
  73. Kasama Castle
  74. Kawanoe Castle
  75. Kinojo
  76. Kishiwada Castle
  77. Kitaaranami Fort
  78. Kiyosu Castle
  79. Kochi Castle
  80. Kofu Castle
  81. Koga Castle
  82. Koiwatake Castle
  83. Komatsu Castle
  84. Komono Castle
  85. Komoro Castle
  86. Kubota Castle
  87. Kumamoto Castle
  88. Kushima Castle
  89. Marugame Castle
  90. Matsuda Yakata
  91. Matsue Castle
  92. Matsumae Castle
  93. Matsumoto Castle
  94. Matsushiro Castle
  95. Mibu Castle
  96. Minakuchi Castle
  97. Minokubi Castle
  98. Minowa Castle
  99. Mito Castle
  100. Mizusawa Castle
  101. Momose Jin'ya
  102. Nabari Jinya
  103. Nagahama Castle
  104. Nagoya Castle
  105. Nanbata Castle
  106. Nanokaichi Jin'ya
  107. Natsukawa Castle
  108. Ne Castle
  109. Nijo Castle
  110. Nikaidou Yakata
  111. Nishio Castle
  112. Nishiohhira Jin'ya
  113. Nobeoka Castle
  114. Obata Jin'ya
  115. Obi Castle
  116. Ochiai Yashiki
  117. Odawara Castle
  118. Ogaki Castle
  119. Oguchi Castle
  120. Oh'uchi Yakata
  121. Ohmine Castle
  122. Ohmori Daikansho
  123. Oka Castle
  124. Okayama Castle
  125. Omono Castle
  126. Osaka Castle
  127. Oshi Castle
  128. Ota Castle
  129. Otaki Castle
  130. Owari Ohno Castle
  131. Ozu Castle
  132. Saga Castle
  133. Sagaki Jin'ya
  134. Sakasai Castle
  135. Sannohe Castle
  136. Saraki Jin'ya
  137. Sekiyado Castle
  138. Shibata Castle
  139. Shichinohe Castle
  140. Shimosaka Yakata
  141. Shirakawa Castle
  142. Shiroishi Castle
  143. Shishido Jin'ya
  144. Shiwa Castle
  145. Shuri Castle
  146. Sonobe Castle
  147. Souma Nakamura Castle
  148. Sunpu Castle
  149. Suwahara Castle
  150. Suzaka Jin'ya
  151. Tahara Castle
  152. Takamatsu Castle
  153. Takamuro Yashiki
  154. Takane Castle
  155. Takasaki Castle
  156. Takashima Castle
  157. Takato Castle
  158. Takatsuki Castle
  159. Takeda Yakata (Ibaraki)
  160. Takenaka Jinya
  161. Tamaru Castle
  162. Tanabe Castle
  163. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  164. Tanaka Castle
  165. Tatebayashi Castle
  166. Tatsuno Castle
  167. Tatsuoka Castle
  168. Todoroki Yashiki
  169. Tojo Castle
  170. Tokushima Castle
  171. Tomioka Castle
  172. Torigoe Castle
  173. Tottori Castle
  174. Toyama Castle
  175. Toyooka Jinya
  176. Tsu Castle
  177. Tsuchiura Castle
  178. Tsuruga Castle
  179. Ueda Castle
  180. Ueno Yashiki
  181. Usuki Castle
  182. Uwajima Castle
  183. Wakayama Castle
  184. Yamagata Castle
  185. Yamaguchi Castle
  186. Yamamoto Jin'ya
  187. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  188. Yasu Kitamura Castle
  189. Yatsushiro Yashiki
  190. Yuzawa Castle
  191. Yuzuki Castle
  192. Zeze Castle
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