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