Japanese Gate Typology (24)

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 
  18. Wakimon 
  19. Chokushimon
  20. Onarimon 
  21. Tansōmon 
  22. Zuijinmon 
  23. Miyukimon 


 A-ge-tsuchi-mon (上土門)

The gate () of the raised () earth (). 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 postThe 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,, 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

2 Replies to “Japanese Gate Typology (24)”

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for this amazing series. Each time I read about one of the gates, I think it must be the last. But the next day there's another. It's a brilliant introduction to a fascinating subject I never even knew existed. If you ever think of putting these in a book, I'll buy a copy straight away.

  2. Julian,

    a pleasant comment to read. I'm so glad that you are getting a lot out of this series and opening your eyes to the world of Japanese gates. I sent a proposal off to a book publisher this week so we'll see if anything develops.


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