Yagura (Turret) ()

"Yagura" (turret), which is written as "櫓" in Japanese, is a term for Japanese traditional constructions, buildings, and structure. This term is also written as "矢倉," "矢蔵," or "兵庫."

Temporary or permanent buildings and constructions made by heaping up lumber.
(such as drum turrets seen at a show tent, a sumo performance, and a festival, and watchtowers including a fire watchtower.)

A building used both as a storehouse for arrows and a launching site which is constructed at an ancient castle, and temporary defense buildings supported by posts sunk directly into the ground.
(such as a watchtower called seiro)

A multi story or single story building for firing arrows or guns which was constructed at an early modern castle.

Names of construction parts (such as funa-yagura [a yagura installed on a Japanese-style ship] and kotatsu-yagura [a wooden frame of a kotatsu, a Japanese foot warmer]), and names of techniques or arts (a winning technique of sumo and a battle formation of shogi, a Japanese board game resembling chess).



Orthodox theaters have mostly had a yagura at the front of the building, above the entrance. Theaters required permission to be permanently built especially until the Edo period, and permitted theaters displayed spears and gohei (a wand tipped with strips of white paper) to show their status. This style was taken over as an architectural style beginning with the Meiji period, and theaters which adopt a traditional style still have a yagura.

Temporary yagura
A temporary tower-style structure is sometimes set up in a field to be used as a special place for a festival or a Bon Festival Dance. This is also called yagura. People play music on the yagura and make the yagura look more attractive with decorations on ropes attached to the yagura.

This type of yagura also includes drum turrets built for yosedaiko (drum beating made on the performance day which announces that the performance is about to begin) and hanedaiko (drum beating made on the performance day which announces that the performance has ended) at a sumo performance. However, the current drum turret set up at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena is a permanent one, not a temporary one, for security reasons; besides, it has an elevator.

Hinomi-yagura (fire watchtower)

When a fire occurs, nowadays, people go up a fire watchtower to check the location of the fire scene, and the watchtower is also used to let other people know the occurrence of the fire by ringing a fire bell which is installed on the top of the watchtower. Fire watchtowers often have a loudspeaker for official disaster radio. They are sometimes called hansho-yagura (fire bell yagura) as well.

Yagura in other styles

Yagura in shogi
One of shogi's kakoi (castle, a defense formation to protect the King) styles is called yagura-gakoi (yagura castle). This is usually adopted in the ibisha strategy (a strategy in shogi in which the Rook stays around its starting position on the board).

Tournament bracket
A tournament bracket is also called 'yagura' because the lines indicating pairings form a tower shape.

Chigai-dana (set of staggered shelves)
Yagura' is one of the chigai-dana types in the shoin-zukuri style (a traditional Japanese style of residential architecture that includes a small alcove).

A 'yagura' refers to a frame including the legs of a hori-gotatsu (a foot warmer built into a floor) or a kotatsu, on which a kotatsu blanket is spread.

Mock cavalry and human tower
The term 'yagura' sometimes refers to players who form a base part on which other players ride in a cavalry battle game (in which people riding piggyback on other people try to knock off their opponents' headgear) or coordinated group gymnastics.

This term refers to the upper structure of a large Japanese-style ship. A deck.

Kojo-yagura (siege turret)
This term refers to a movable yagura for a siege. It has wheels so that soldiers can move to other spots to attack. In addition, a similar type of yagura called dashi-yagura (which literally means "overhanging turret," representing a yagura which protrudes from castle walls) was made to defend the castle. Some people believe that 'dashi' (festival cars), which are used at the Gion Festival (Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture) and other festivals, utilize this type of yagura.

The term 'kuiuchi-yagura' (a pile-driving tower) refers to a temporary structure which is built by constructing logs and steel pipes, and this is used as a machine to drive in piles at a foundation work. A yagura is also built when digging a well.

[Original Japanese]