yamajiro-no-koguchi 山城の虎口
KEY WORD : architecture / castles
A mountain castle entrance. The entrance *koguchi 虎口 of a mountain castle was of a smaller scale than that of a flatland castle and was not standardized in form. The differences in elevation and the turns in the sloping approach helped to protect the gate from an enemy. The simplest such entrance is termed a sakakoguchi 坂虎口 (slope entrance); it was best for the sloping path to approach the entrance on a diagonal, not directly. Upon exiting the koguchi, typically there would be two slopes - one on the right and another on the left. These are termed sakamichi-no-migimae hidarimae 坂道の右前左前 ("right front" migimae 右前, "left front" hidarimae 左前, "sloping paths" sakamichi 坂道). The migimae slope goes down on the right side upon exiting the castle. Descending this slope the castle forces would have their left sides turned towards the enemy. The idea behind the migimae and hidarimae terminology lay in the actions required and the way armor was worn when fighting with bow and arrow. In such cases because the armor was given added protection on the left side of the body, the castle soldiers would have the advantage by going down the migimae slope. Using the hidarimae slope, on the other hand, would put them at a disadvantage. Such a mountain castle entrance and approach is sometimes also termed yamajiro-no-koguchi sakamichi-no-migimae hidarimae 山城の虎口坂道の右前左前.


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