Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Japanese Castles 1540-1640 Imjin War book cover

Japanese Castle Roofs

Kara hafu - 唐破風

Prior to the mid 1500′s the undulating curves of the Kara gable were most commonly found on shrines, temples, gates & palanquins. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 to 1603) though, they were increasingly incorporated into the towers & gates of castles. Read more

Shachi - 鯱

Tiger-carp hybrids, Killer whales and Dragon-headed fish have all been used to describe Shachihoko. Whatever the origins of the mythical fish-tailed beast, they have been used to adorn roofs of Japanese castles, turrets and gates for centuries. Certainly they contribute to the overall beauty of these buildings but primarily they were symbols of good luck to ward off the threat of fire. Read more

Onigawara - 鬼瓦

The term Onigawara refers to the upright roof tile that often bears the grotesque face of a demon. Seen on towers, temples, gates and walls, this particular type of tile can be found in one of two places, at the ends of the upper-most ridge, or on one of the downward-sloping ridges. Read more