Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

       
Strongholds of the Samurai: Japanese Castles 250-1877 Imjin War book cover

Japanese Castle Gates

Vital componants in any Japanese castle were its gates. The whole point of any fortified complex is to keep people out, and to a lesser extent, to keep some in. There are a variety of gate styles & sizes that were in use at Japanese castles.

Yagura Mon - 櫓門

Pictured is one of the two main styles of turret-topped gates. The distinct feature is the single room above the gate. The other style is known as a Watari-yagura-mon whose upper-level turret is more like a hall-like room stradling the stone base.

Yakui Mon - 薬医門

The main characteristics of this type of gate are the multiple heavy pillars and the massive roofs they support. They are quite simple in their structure. Ceramic-tiled roofs are common as are copper-tiled roofs.

Korai Mon - 高麗門

In addition to the two front posts that support the main roof, there are two posts located at the back to provide additional support. These rear posts themselves have mini-roofs which also protected the doors when opened.

Kara Mon - 唐門

This would have to be regarded as the most graceful of all the castle gates. The beautifully curved roof is what identifies it as a Chinese-style gate. There remain several exquisitely carved and detailed gates.

Nagaya Mon - 長屋門

Nagayamon, literally meaning long house gate, acted as a gate/guardhouse. They were common not only on castle grounds but could also be found at samurai residences. Many examples have been preserved & can be found if you keep your eyes open.