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

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Free Standing Yagura Gates

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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.

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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

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Newer Style Koraimon

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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