Japanese Gate Typology (5)

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


Yotsu-ashi-mon (四脚門)

The four () legged () gate (). The same characters can also be read: shi-kyaku-mon. This could be considered a further development from the yakuimon type, which placed a roof asymmetrically over two main posts and two smaller rear support posts. In a Yotsuashimon, there are two main posts, and then a pair of smaller support posts to the front, and a pair of smaller support posts to the rear. The four smaller posts give the gate its name – a little confusing perhaps since there are really 6 legs altogether.

With the out-rigger posts front and rear, the roof ridge can be centered over the main posts.

Here’s an example:

The above gate has cylindrical posts all around, however it is also common to have cylindrical main posts and square-section supporting posts as in this fairly large gate from Miidera (Mii Temple):

Yotsuashimon were reserved for use on high-ranking temples – yes, temples were ranked – and on Imperial Palaces. The earliest example known is this one from Yakushiji (Yakushi-temple), dating to the end of the 12th century:

Here’s another old one from about the same time period as the Yakushiji example, the Jurin-in south gate:

Another example, this one having cylindrical posts all around:

Here’s one with a slightly unusual employment of an arched beam to support the midpoint of the eave purlin:

A fairly ‘low-budget’ roof on that one.

Here’s erinji‘s (E-rin Temple 恵林寺, located in Yamanashi Prefecture) four-legged gate:

A closer look, the reverse side:

Side view:

The framing is of an archaic pattern, employing daiwa atop kashiranuki, with cross-wise ‘shrimp–tail’ beams, and no frog-leg struts:

And one 4-legger more, just for good measure:

As you can see from the examples above, the roof on this form of gate is almost always gabled, however cusped gable 4-legged gates also exist. I’ll leave those off for now as there will be a separate posting later on just for cusped-gable roofed gates.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way. On to post 6

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