Imagine yourself standing at the grand Otemon gate of the old Edo Castle, surrounded by the bustling city of Edo. As you pass through the gate, you find yourself entering a square, enclosed area referred to as a “masugata.” This unique design, prevalent in many of the gates of the Edo Castle, served a dual purpose – to prevent enemies from directly entering the castle and to serve as a gathering place for troops during attacks. The surrounding white walls, equipped with “hazama” or holes for firing guns, added an extra layer of defense.
But the Otemon gate holds a special significance – it was the main gate of the Edo Castle, used by daimyos during their alternate attendance (sankin kotai) for New Year’s or monthly ceremonies. It serves as a reminder of the past and the grandeur of the castle and the city it once stood in.
Many of the gates of the Edo Castle were of this design, but the Otemon gate remains a testament to the skill and expertise of the builders who crafted it. It’s not just a gate, but a portal to the past, a glimpse into a bygone era where the castle served as the center of power and politics in Japan.