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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. Hekirichi Jinya
  31. Hikone Castle
  32. Himeji 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. Iga Ueno Castle
  44. Iida Castle
  45. Iiyama Castle
  46. Ikeda Castle
  47. Imabari Castle
  48. Inatsuke Castle
  49. Innoshima Suigun Castle
  50. Inuyama Castle
  51. Isawa Jin'ya
  52. Itoi Jin'ya
  53. Iwaki Taira Castle
  54. Iwakuni Castle
  55. Iwamura Castle
  56. Iwatsuki Castle
  57. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  58. Izu Nagahama Castle
  59. Izuki Jin'ya
  60. Izumi Jin'ya
  61. Izushi Castle
  62. Kai Baba Yashiki
  63. Kai Nishikawa Yashiki
  64. Kaibara Jinya
  65. Kakegawa Castle
  66. Kameda Castle
  67. Kaminoyama Castle
  68. Kamioka Castle
  69. Kanazawa Castle
  70. Kanzou Yashiki
  71. Kasama Castle
  72. Kawanoe Castle
  73. Kinojo
  74. Kishiwada Castle
  75. Kitaaranami Fort
  76. Kiyosu Castle
  77. Kochi Castle
  78. Kofu Castle
  79. Koiwatake Castle
  80. Komatsu Castle
  81. Komono Castle
  82. Komoro Castle
  83. Kubota Castle
  84. Kumamoto Castle
  85. Kushima Castle
  86. Marugame Castle
  87. Matsuda Yakata
  88. Matsue Castle
  89. Matsumae Castle
  90. Matsumoto Castle
  91. Matsushiro Castle
  92. Mibu Castle
  93. Minakuchi Castle
  94. Minokubi Castle
  95. Minowa Castle
  96. Mito Castle
  97. Mizusawa Castle
  98. Momose Jin'ya
  99. Nabari Jinya
  100. Nagahama Castle
  101. Nagoya Castle
  102. Nanbata Castle
  103. Nanokaichi Jin'ya
  104. Natsukawa Castle
  105. Ne Castle
  106. Nijo Castle
  107. Nishio Castle
  108. Nishiohhira Jin'ya
  109. Nobeoka Castle
  110. Obata Jin'ya
  111. Obi Castle
  112. Odawara Castle
  113. Ogaki Castle
  114. Oguchi Castle
  115. Oh'uchi Yakata
  116. Ohmine Castle
  117. Ohmori Daikansho
  118. Oka Castle
  119. Okayama Castle
  120. Omono Castle
  121. Osaka Castle
  122. Oshi Castle
  123. Otaki Castle
  124. Owari Ohno Castle
  125. Ozu Castle
  126. Saga Castle
  127. Sakasai Castle
  128. Sannohe Castle
  129. Saraki Jin'ya
  130. Sekiyado Castle
  131. Shibata Castle
  132. Shichinohe Castle
  133. Shimosaka Yakata
  134. Shirakawa Castle
  135. Shiroishi Castle
  136. Shishido Jin'ya
  137. Shiwa Castle
  138. Shuri Castle
  139. Sonobe Castle
  140. Souma Nakamura Castle
  141. Sunpu Castle
  142. Suwahara Castle
  143. Suzaka Jin'ya
  144. Tahara Castle
  145. Takamatsu Castle
  146. Takane Castle
  147. Takasaki Castle
  148. Takashima Castle
  149. Takato Castle
  150. Takatsuki Castle
  151. Takenaka Jinya
  152. Tamaru Castle
  153. Tanabe Castle
  154. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  155. Tanaka Castle
  156. Tatebayashi Castle
  157. Tatsuno Castle
  158. Tatsuoka Castle
  159. Todoroki Yashiki
  160. Tojo Castle
  161. Tokushima Castle
  162. Tomioka Castle
  163. Torigoe Castle
  164. Tottori Castle
  165. Toyama Castle
  166. Toyooka Jinya
  167. Tsu Castle
  168. Tsuchiura Castle
  169. Ueda Castle
  170. Usuki Castle
  171. Uwajima Castle
  172. Wakayama Castle
  173. Yamagata Castle
  174. Yamaguchi Castle
  175. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  176. Yasu Kitamura Castle
  177. Yuzawa Castle
  178. Yuzuki Castle
  179. Zeze Castle
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