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This article is about the Japanese towers or turrets called yagura (櫓 or 楼?). For the yagura (やぐら?) tombs used in Kamakura during the Kamakura period, see Yagura (tombs).
File:Funai Castle 02.jpg

Yagura (櫓 or 楼) is the Japanese word for "tower" or "turret." The word is most often seen in reference to structures within Japanese castle compounds, but can be used in a variety of other situations as well. The bandstand tower erected for Bon Festival is often called a yagura, as are similar structures used in other festivals. Yagura-daiko, that is, taiko drumming from atop a yagura is a traditional part of professional sumo competitions [1]

"Yagura" was also used more traditionally in the elaborate names of restaurants or other establishments, such as the "Color of Night Tower" (夜色楼), a popular and famous Edo period establishment in Kyoto.

The term originally derives from the use of fortress towers as arrow (矢, ya) storehouses (倉, kura), and was thus originally written as 矢倉. Today, modern towers such as skyscrapers or communications towers are almost exclusively referred to or named using the English-derived word tawaa (タワー), and not yagura.

Castle towers

Castle towers varied widely in shape, size, and purpose. Many served, of course, as watchtowers, guardtowers, and for similar military purposes. Arrows were often stored there, along with, presumably, other equipment. However, as castles also served as the luxurious home of Japan's feudal lords (the daimyō), it was not uncommon for a castle to also have an astronomy tower, or a tower which provided a good vantage point for enjoying the natural beauty of the scenery.

Japan has rarely feared invasion or maintained border forts. However, it is not unlikely that various types of guardtowers or watchtowers would have been kept, outside of larger castle compounds, at various times and places throughout Japan's history.

References

  1. Official Grand Sumo homepage

Literature

  • Turnbull, Stephen (2003). "Japanese Castles 1540-1640." Oxford: Osprey Publishing.
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 

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