Rajomon (羅城門)

A rajomon was a city gate built at the south end of Suzaku-oji Street (a main street) which ran north and south through the center of ancient jobo (grid-like arrangement of streets and avenues) cities such as Heijo-kyo or Heian-kyo. Rajo' means a wall of a walled city. The rajomon of Heian-kyo (in the central area of present Kyoto City) is well known.

The rajomon of Heian-kyo

It was located around the present Senbon-dori-kujo-dori facing the intersection of Suzaku-oji Street and Kujo-dori Street (Minami Ward, Kyoto City: approximately 100 m eastward from the intersection of Kujo-shinsenbon-dori: or approximately 250 m westward from Keihan-kokudo-guchi intersection). "Shugaisho" (an ancient encyclopedia in 14th century) says it was 'niju-kaku-kyu-ken' (a two storied house with nine bays), and experts say it was a two storied gatehouse with nine bays and five openings. This gatehouse separated Rakuchu and Rakugai, or 'inside ' and 'outside' of the capital city. Sai-ji Temple, and To-ji Temple which still exists today, were built at the west and east guardians' positions of the Rajomon.

Years after the building of Heian-kyo, on the night of August 16, 816 (old lunar calendar), a typhoon blew it down. It was rebuilt, but after it was destroyed again by a storm on July 9, 980 (old lunar calendar), it was never rebuilt and its remains were deserted as Ukyo (the west district of Heian-kyo) declined in population, and the security of the south area of Heian-kyo steadily deteriorated along with the desolation of the country, turning the neighborhood of Rajomon, the south of the capital city, into an area no one would dare to come close to. The following are well known pieces of work: a piece of yokyoku (Noh song) called 'Rashomon' (羅生門) by Nobumitsu KANZE which tells the heroic story of WATANABE no Tsuna who battled against an Oni or demon (Ibarakidoji) that lived in Rajomon; the novel "Rashomon" (羅生門) by Ryunosuke AKUTAGAWA who was inspired by horror stories compiled in "Konjakumonogatarishu" (今昔物語集) (a collection of old stories from the Heian Period).

In ancient times, the name used to be pronounced 'raseimon,' following the pronunciation of the Han period in China, but its reading and spelling gradually fluctuated, and after the yokyoku 'Rashomon' was announced, it settled as 羅生門 and pronounced raseimon or rashomon. Recently, the notation of the gatehouse has been unified to be 羅城門, and it is pronounced 'rajomon,' following the pronunciation of the Wu period in China.

Only a small stone monument stands at its location today.

[Original Japanese]