Kara-zukuri style (a term concerning architecture) (唐造)

The kara-zukuri style concerns castle buildings in Japan, the external view of tenshu (the main keep or tower of a castle) in particular. This is a style of uchimawarien (for whose structure, refer to the description of the structure item below). The Chinese character 唐 (kara, indicating China) is used because it gives a new or unusual external view. Later it was also called the nanban (literally, Southeast Asian countries)-zukuri style.

This style is mostly provided for the uppermost floors. However, it is sometimes used for a lower floor: For example, in the tenshu of Iwakuni-jo Castle, the style is used for the third floor. In the castles of this style, their upper part is likely to become larger the lower part, with the external view giving an extremely unstable and impressive impression. Ieyasu TOKUGAWA restricted the number of floors of tenshu that could be newly built, and therefore, it is said that such a style was also used, to bypass the restriction, to reduce the externally counted number of floors of the tenshu built in the Keicho era (1596 - 1615) or later.

The structure

The structure is something like what is made by enclosing a protruded sotomawarien (a narrow veranda all around a room, outside the sliding storm doors, used for viewing the surrounding area) with walls or boards.

For example, when the style is used for the uppermost floor, the uchimawarien part protrudes from the room part, whose size is almost the same as that of the lower floors, as described below. The size of the room part is made almost equal to that of the lower floors.

When rain water leaks from the roof or the veranda decays, storm doors or walls from the eaves to the veranda can be erected around the veranda, making the building look like this style. However, doors or walls are sometimes erected between the eaves of the upper most floor and the roof(s) of the lower floor(s), or the veranda itself is sometimes moved. Structures made in such a way are not called kara-zukuri.

Examples of tenshu in the kara-zukuri style

The great tenshu of Kokura-jo Castle
The tehshu of Iwakuni-jo Castle
The tehshu of Saga-jo Castle
The tehshu of Takamatsu-jo Castle (in Sanuki Province)
The tehshu of Shimabara-jo Castle

[Original Japanese]