Gateways, or mon, have served as powerful symbols of authority throughout Japanese history. In particular the stately mon built for the Edo city residences of the regional lords expressed the dignity of high rank in the Tokugawa political and social order, but unlike their earlier counterparts in temples and palaces, they have been neglected as a subject for scholarly study. These gateways, virtually the only surviving examples of secular buildings from the great castle-city of Edo, clarify our understanding of the use of architectural style as a symbol of status in the period of Tokugawa rule (1603-1867). The Rōjūmon, or "Gatehouse of the Senior Councillor," is one of three well-preserved gatehouses dating from the last century of warrior government in Japan. Analysis of the structure of the building reveals the design principles upon which it was based and details of building practices at the time. The technical and stylistic features of the gatehouse are interpreted in the light of Tokugawa government laws and pictorial records to establish the importance of mon architecture as a status symbol in general terms and the precise meaning of this building as an example of the gatehouse type.

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