jô, shiro  城郭 jōkaku

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The Japanese castle is a distinctive architectural form developed in the 16-17th century, during the nation's Age of Warring States. Centered around a high tower known as the tenshukaku these castles are surrounded by moats (hori) to keep out potential invaders. Most castles are mounted with decorative sculptures of the shachihoko fish. According to Chinese legend, this fish spouts out water in case of fire, with the sculpture thus expressing the importance of fire prevention.

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