My stereotypical Japanese terrain for ‘Ronin’


If you’re going to do samurai skirmish gaming, you might as well go the whole hog so far as stereotypical Japanese terrain is concerned. I think I’ve pushed all the buttons: cherry blossoms, humpbacked red footbridges, sturdy torii ornamental gates, and a pointy-roofed shrine. click on the above photo to get the full-size effect and be transported into my little impression of Japan.

By the way, and for those interested, that is a 28mm Kingsford Miniatures samurai in the foreground – but unpainted, as yet.  They do a lovely range of absolutely exquisite  figures.


Here is a view of the three kits of Japanese structures I’ve assembled this last weekend – the torii gate, the bridge, and a small house or shrine. I threw them together into a little diorama for this photo session, using a river section and my cherry-blossom trees.

The bamboo edging of my temporary diorama was purely serendipitous. I needed a board to carry my buildings out into the garden for the photography session, and just happened to find an old broken bamboo-framed mirror frame close at hand.  It wasn’t till I posted the above photo on The Miniatures Page that it was pointed out to me how apt this bamboo edging was for an Asian scene!


The buildings are all Plast Craft Games kits available from the Fukei website. They’re mainly made of pre-cut plastic foam card. This is very easy to work with, and the pressed-out parts fit together well with just a touch of superglue gel. The roofs are made of corrugated card supplied with the kit, and the windows of the house are resin pieces.


The end result I think looks terrific. Though they may be a smidgen fragile for very robust wargaming, especially the pointy roof ornaments. But handled with care they should be fine.


Fukei also produce the Japanese gravestones in resin. I’ve glued them as ornaments on the bases of my cherry trees. I’m not sure if this is where you would find them in real life, but they look the part to my eye. The large grave makes a nice centre-piece for a courtyard.


The little hump-backed bridge, despite its complex curved shape, was surprising easy to put together. Superglue gel holds the curved pieces very quickly because of their light weight. Scoring some boards on the deck of the bridge also helped shape the plastic foam card into a curve.


Overall, I don’t think you can get more Japanese than this peaceful scene. It seems almost a shame for my models to fight over!


Oh, one last thing:  I’m not sure what Japanese characters to write on the white plaque at the top centre of my torii gate.  Any Japanese speakers who can help?  I just want it to be two or three characters in a vertical line, saying something like “little red shrine” or similar …

16 thoughts on “My stereotypical Japanese terrain for ‘Ronin’

  1. Well, “little/small red shrine” as a name would probably be: 小 赤 神 社 That’s four characters, though. You could go for “Cherry Blossom/Tree Shrine”: 桜 神 社 as that is three characters.

    However, since there are graves on the site, I’m thinking it isn’t a Shinto shrine and might be a Buddhist temple. Shinto, as far as I’m aware, views death and graves as a contamination and unclean sort of thing, so they wouldn’t put graves so close to the shrine. Buddhism, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t have that view and so you’ll sometimes find graves on the walk up to a temple. Though large torii are generally found only at Shinto shrines, there are some Buddhist temples with torii from what I’ve heard.

    So you could call it “Little/Small Red Temple,” which would be: 小 赤 寺 and that has three characters. Or you could go with “Cherry Blossom/Tree Temple”: 桜 寺 and have just two characters.

    For any of these to be written vertically just put the leftmost character on top and then put the next one under it and so on until the name is finished.

    Very nice scene! I’m now tempted to give Ronin a try.

  2. Inspiring! I’ve got an ancient set of samurai skirmish rules published sometime in the 1970’s (typed on a typewriter and photocopied by the look of it!) by Adams and Clarke in the UK, but I’ve never done anything with them. I might have another look at that, especially with a table like the one you’ve built.

  3. Thanks for the wonderful pictures, and the information. I’ve started a Shinto shrine project, but for a different purpose. I’ve visited a few, and yes, they don’t like to put grave stones on the grounds, but hey! Nobody’s perfect, and it doesn’t have to be for miniatures, always.

    Great work. I’m interested in how you did the trees. I have to make trees for mine, as I haven’t found any that I like thus far.

    Cheers, and keep on posting. Love your work.

  4. Great work!! I was looking to install a Japanese house or temple over a tree trunk in my back yard as part of my bonsai garden. The trunk has a diameter of 15 inches. Something simple but that you can tell it”s Japanese style. Is this something you can make?

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