Carvings of Karamon- Nijo Castle

Title: Carvings of Karamon, Nijo-jo

Photographer: Reggaeman

Date: April, 6, 2009

Repository/Location: Nijo Castle, Kyoto


The Carvings of Karamon are within the Karamon Gate, of Nijo Castle. Karamon gate is made up of cypress bark, and depicts wooden carvings of “luan” (a mythical bird), pine trees, peonies, clouds, and “shachihoko” (a traditional dolphin-like fish). These carvings are extremely entangled and detailed, making it hard to distinguish foreground, midground, and background. While they are painted bright colors, their edges are also plated in gold. This fits with the additional gold patterned decor on the supporting beams- making the piece look distinguished and elegant. The gate itself has a “hip-gable” roof, which consists of all roof sides sloping downwards, over the walls. This level of decoration speaks to the purpose of the gate: to be a symbol of authority. Thus, it proclaimed the level of prestige of the buildings behind it. This is why the Karamon entrance was only reserved for the Shogun, for his visits. This alludes to the power of the Tokugawa Shogunate (who owned Nijo castle), and can be sharply contrasted with the Emperor’s Katsura Villa.

Author: Rachel Park

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