Japanese Gate Typology (6)

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


Munamon ().

Also called munemon, munakado, and munekado. Before we move too much further along looking at bigger and bigger gates with more and more posts, I wanted to look at a 2-post gate which I didn’t want to fall through the cracks. A munamon is a ‘ridged’ () ‘gate’ (). It’s a simple gate supported primarily with two main posts:

You’ll recall that from post 2, where we looked at the kabukimon gate, we went in two directions as far as improving weather protection. One route involved putting a small roof over the main beam, or kabuki, and a pair of sub-roofs crosswise out over the rear support posts and their bracing, producing the kōraimon arrangement. The other direction involved putting a single roof over the entire gate, asymmetrically positioned so that the roof’s ridge did not sit in alignment with the main front posts – the yakuimon design. In that design, the rear set of support posts are covered by the roof, and those posts may or may not carry some portion of the roof load. They are however protected from the weather by the offset roof.

Now a third direction: place a single roof over the gate, and have it be centered on the main posts. That means, in some cases, that the roof will not quite extend far enough out to the rear that it covers the rear support posts, hikae-bashira. This is the essence of the munamon type of gate.


You can see that the hikae-bashira stand out in the weather with the above example. Typically you would see copper capping over the post tops, however not in the above case.

Here the resemblance in form to the kabukimon is pretty obvious:

Munamon are a kind of catch-all of minor gates, generally simple in form, which were used on castles as side entrances, and on samurai houses (as in the above example) and other settings where putting on too much of a display would have been inappropriate. This would be the sort of gate one would put in front of a larger garden.

Munamon are a suitable choice for a gate to a park or museum garden, as in this example from Himeji City Museum:

Some munamon have no outrigger support posts at all, or have support posts which are essentially token in nature, and/or are simply have their main posts buried in the ground for support, or are kept upright by a surrounding fence:

Here the fence is doing most of the work:

These gates are typically on the smaller side, however residences occasionally feature larger versions:

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way on your travels today. On to post 7

2 thoughts on “Japanese Gate Typology (6)

  1. Hi Chris,

    Enjoying this series. Was hoping you could sometime comment on the culture/tradition/superstition around the gates as it seems a number of them have not been built as part of a defensive perimeter but rather for other reasons. It also seems that in some cases the gates have been preserved while the walls have been removed/destroyed hence suggesting they have a specific significance.


  2. Robin,

    your comment is most appreciated and you question a good one – so good in fact that I devoted the next post in this series to answering it!


Anything to add?