“The main Hongo campus of Tokyo (Imperial) University occupies the former estate of the Maeda family, the Edo-period feudal lords [daimyo] of Kaga Province. One of the university’s best-known landmarks, Akamon [red Gate], is a relic of that period.
“Akamon was first erected in 1827 by Maeda Nariyasu, the 12th Lord of the Kaga, to welcome Lady Yasu-hime, a daughter of the 11th shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, as his bride. Such gates were built for the purpose known as goshuden-mon, the feudal tradition requiring that a daimyo whose family was marrying into the Tokugawa family erect a spacious home with a red gate.
“Akamon was constructed in the traditional gate style called yakui-mon and painted red, as was the conventional practice when receiving a shogun’s daughter as a bride. A design featuring an arched gable with undulating bargeboards (a style called kara-hafu) together with two guard posts on the sides of the gate was a style of the highest rank and allowed only for the most prosperous daimyo.
“Akamon became the university’s venerated entrance in 1903. At the end of the Meiji period, sometime after 1912, Akamon was dismantled. A brick and concrete facsimile was constructed a short distance from where the original gate stood. (See Whole View of Tokyo Imperial University, c. 1930 for an aerial photo of Akamon’s present-day location.)
“Akamon was already registered as a National Treasure before World War II. It has since been designated an Important Cultural Property. The gate was extensively repaired in 1961 and still stands today, watching over the comings and goings of the students.”