This is a series of posts describing the many varieties of Japanese gate, or mon (門). 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:
The gate (門) of the raised (上) earth (土). This is a gate with an earthen roof. The framing is similar to a munamon.
Not very many examples of this type of gate exist. In fact, it is known primarily from one famous example, located at Hōryūji-Seion-in (法隆寺西園院) in Nara:
As you can see, there are two gates in the outer wall – the agetsuchimon is on the left.
A closer look (pic from JAANUS):
The roof under-surface consists of planks, atop which the clay/sand/straw mix, the tsuchi, is added. The narrow ends of the roof are bounded with decoratively-cut boards which attach to the purlins, and these help contain the earthen roof material. These boards are termed eburi-ita (柄振板) and you may have spotted them on other gates and walls seen in this series.
A view from the inside court yard shows the rear support posts:
A front elevation view:
Note the arrow pointing to the foundation of the main post. The foundation for this gate is a bit unusual, employing large rectangular chunks of wood under the main posts – these are termed kara-i-shiki (唐居敷), which means they are thought of as ‘Chinese’ in origin or style:
As it turns out, these foundation points are more usually made of stone, and in fact the word kara-i-shiki is a modification or corruption of kara-ishi-shiki (唐石敷), the middle character, ishi, 石, meaning ‘stone’.
The kara-ishi-shiki is bored out for a door hinge pin in some cases (not in the case of the above gate however, which has post-hung doors):
All the above information about the gate at Hōryūji-Seion-in is interesting enough, however the example above does not actually have an earthen roof any more – it was replaced with bark shingles! The form remains, but not the substance.
I found one more example on the web of this gate, located at a residence in Nagoya city, however this is the best photo I could find:
All for today, a short post to balance some of the preceding longer ones, perhaps? The series will continue. Thanks for coming by. On to post 25