Japanese Gate Typology (18)

This is a series of posts describing the many varieties of Japanese gate, or mon (). If you look at the preceding kanji more closely,  you can think of it as a picture of a pair of swinging doors, reminiscent of saloon doors in a wild west movie. I thought that it would be a nice idea to bring more awareness to a western audience as to the tremendous diversity in forms and types of Japanese gates. This series intends to be a gateway to gates.

Previous posts in this series:

  1. Heijūmon 
  2. Kabukimon 
  3. Kōraimon 
  4. Yakuimon 
  5. Yotsu-ashimon 
  6. Munamon 
  7. Commentary
  8. Uzumimon 
  9. Yaguramon 
  10. Rōmon
  11. Shōrōmon
  12. Taikomon
  13. Nijūmon
  14. Sanmon 
  15. Niōmon 
  16. Nitenmon
  17. Sōmon


Wakimon (脇門)

Also referred to a ekimon (腋門). A flanking, or side gate. This is a smaller gate found to one or both sides of a main gate (not necessarily adjacent to the main gate however) and generally used as a service entrance.

Here is one of the fancier versions you’re likely to find, at Nikkō:

A closer look at the gable end, which is of the cusped gable, or kara hafu form:

Castles also had these sort of gates. We’ve already seen previosuly the uzumimon type, which can be filled in with rocks in case of attack. Here’s a side gate at Shuri Castle (首里城) in Okinawa:

Most of this castle was destroyed in 1945, so the gate and other structures you see now are modern rebuilds:

The other side:

This type of gate is also common at shrines – here at Sata-ten-jingū (佐太天神宮) in Osaka:

At Anchōji (安長寺) in Fukuoka, a small temple, we see the modest sanmon, and to the left we can glimpse the  wakimon:

A look at the simple wakimon from another angle:

Modern wakimon usually are built to allow vehicle traffic.

One last example, at Daitsuji (大通寺) in Shiga Prefecture:

Short and sweet for today. The series continues, and I hope you’ll return to check out future installments. On to post 19.

Anything to add?

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