Stone walls

Revision as of 13:23, 28 October 2017 by Eric (talk | contribs)

Stone Walls / 石垣

This is a subtype of Features

Ishigaki are one of the most impressive features of any castle. The skill it took to make them from cutting and collecting the stones to actually building the walls in a myriad of shapes, terrains, and locations, is truly remarkable. The fact that there are still so many stone walls remaining after hundreds of years attests to the skill of their builders too. You can even read the history of a castle from its ishigaki. The type of stone tells you where it came from, markings on the stones tell you who it was cut or gathered for, and the method of building the walls can also tell you in what period they were constructed or by whom. Even in the same castle, you may see walls constructed with different methods indicating who built them and when. You can also find unique stories buried in the stone walls at many castles like the old woman who donated her grinding stone or Buddhist statues that were procured from temples to fill in the walls.

Below is a description of the main styles and types of stone walls. There are also a few sub-categories and rare types not discussed here that I may put together for a future page.

Basic Structure

The pictures below are from a display at Kanazawa Castle that show how the stone walls are constructed. You can see that the stones are much longer and larger than they appear from the outside. Smaller stones are filled in between the larger stones to stabilize them. Extra stones are backfilled behind them for drainage to help prevent erosion and smaller stones are also filled into the spaces in the front to stabilize the larger stones. Note that there is no mortar used. This allows the stone walls to have some flexibility which is what has helped them to survive for hundreds of years in earthquake prone Japan.

Kanazawa4.jpg Kanazawa5.jpg


The style of wall indicates the pattern of how the stones are arranged. These two patterns below are used with all of the different types explained in the next section.

Ranzumi (乱積)

The stones used are of various sizes so that there is no particular pattern to the face of the stone wall.

<a href="/photos/view/882-Kofu-Castle"><img src="" />Kofu Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/891-Edo-Castle"><img src="" />Edo Castle</a>

Nunozumi (布積)

Most of the stones are roughly the same size so that they line up across the face of the wall.

<a href="/photos/view/887-Kanazawa-Castle"><img src="" />Kanazawa Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/893-Iyo-Matsuyama-Castle"><img src="" />Iyo Matsuyama Castle</a>


Stone walls can be categorized by how much the stones are processed to fit together in the wall. Walls that use unprocessed stones tend to be older, while walls that make use of more highly shaped stones are newer making use of newer techniques and tools.

Nozurazumi (野面積)

These walls use unshaped stones. They are either stones that were used in their natural shape or were split without any further shaping. This type of wall is comparatively weak and high walls cannot be built. It also provides many footholds and handholds making it relatively easy for attackers to climb.

<a href="/photos/view/882-Kofu-Castle"><img src="" />Kofu Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/883-Komoro-Castle"><img src="" />Komoro Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/884-Maruoka-Castle"><img src="" />Maruoka Castle</a>

Uchikomihagi (打込ハギ)

The stones are pounded tightly into place and the corners and rough edges are smoothed some to help them fit together better. The face of the stone is also chipped away to make it more flat. The remaining holes are filled with smaller stones to tightly fill the gaps. This makes a stronger wall than Nozurazumi and these walls can be built higher.

<a href="/photos/view/886-Edo-Castle"><img src="" />Edo Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/887-Kanazawa-Castle"><img src="" />Kanazawa Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/889-Ueda-Castle"><img src="" />Ueda Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/890-Yamagata-Castle"><img src="" />Yamagata Castle</a>

Kirikomihagi (切込ハギ)

In this type of wall, all the stones are heavily processed and shaped to fit exactly with the surrounding stones. There are almost no holes or empty spaces and no smaller uncut stones filling the spaces between stones. Since water cannot seep out through the spaces they often needed to build in some holes for drainage.

<a href="/photos/view/891-Edo-Castle"><img src="" />Edo Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/892-Edo-Castle"><img src="" />Edo Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/893-Iyo-Matsuyama-Castle"><img src="" />Iyo Matsuyama Castle</a> <a href="/photos/view/894-Shirakawa-Castle"><img src="" />Shirakawa Castle</a>


This is basically a special type of Kirikomihagi where all the stones are cut with five or six sides and fitted together.

Tanizumi / Otoshizumi

The stones are fit together at an angle so they have a diagonal pattern instead of horizontal. It takes advantage of the weight of the stones to hold them in place. This construction was actually comparatively easy and often used in the later Edo Period.


This method uses river stones that were naturally shaped by the river to be round. The only castle I know of that makes use of this is Yokosuka Castle in Shizuoka Pref.

Castles with Stone Walls

  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Aki Castle
  4. Akizuki Castle
  5. Ako Castle
  6. Akutagawasan Castle
  7. Amagajo
  8. Amagasaki Castle
  9. Aoyagi Castle
  10. Arato Castle
  11. Arikoyama Castle
  12. Aya Castle
  13. Azuchi Castle
  14. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  15. Chiba Castle
  16. Chiran Castle
  17. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  18. Echizen Ohno Castle
  19. Edo Castle
  20. Fukuchiyama Castle
  21. Fukui Castle
  22. Fukuoka Castle
  23. Fukuyama Castle
  24. Funai Castle
  25. Fushimi Castle
  26. Futamata Castle
  27. Ganjaku Castle
  28. Gassan Toda Castle
  29. Gifu Castle
  30. Goryokaku Fort
  31. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  32. Hachigata Castle
  33. Hachioji Castle
  34. Haga Castle
  35. Hagi Castle
  36. Haibara Castle
  37. Hamada Castle
  38. Hamamatsu Castle
  39. Hanakuma Castle
  40. Hanamaki Castle
  41. Hanazono Castle
  42. Hayashikojo Castle
  43. Hayashiohjo Castle
  44. Hida Kojima Castle
  45. Hikone Castle
  46. Himeji Castle
  47. Hirado Castle
  48. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  49. Hirosaki Castle
  50. Hiroshima Castle
  51. Hitoyoshi Castle
  52. Hizen Nagoya Castle
  53. Hyakusaiji Castle
  54. Ichijodani Castle
  55. Ichinomiya Castle
  56. Iga Ueno Castle
  57. Imabari Castle
  58. Inawashiro Castle
  59. Innoshima Suigun castle
  60. Inuyama Castle
  61. Ioyama Castle
  62. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  63. Itami Castle
  64. Iwakitaira Castle
  65. Iwamura Castle
  66. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  67. Izushi Castle
  68. Kagoshima Castle
  69. Kakegawa Castle
  70. Kameda Castle
  71. Kamei Castle
  72. Kameyama Castle
  73. Kaminoyama Castle
  74. Kamioka Castle
  75. Kanaiyama Castle
  76. Kanayama Castle
  77. Kanazawa Castle
  78. Kanbe Castle
  79. Kaneyama Castle (Mutsu)
  80. Kannonji Castle
  81. Kanou Castle
  82. Karasawayama Castle
  83. Karasuyama Castle
  84. Karatsu Castle
  85. Kasama Castle
  86. Kasumi Castle
  87. Katsunumashi Yakata
  88. Katsuren Castle
  89. Kawahara Castle
  90. Kawanoe Castle
  91. Kawashima Castle
  92. Kinojo
  93. Kirihara Castle
  94. Kishiwada Castle
  95. Kitanosho Castle
  96. Kitsuki Castle
  97. Kiyosu Castle
  98. Kochi Castle
  99. Kofu Castle
  100. Kokokuji Castle
  101. Kokura Castle
  102. Komaki Castle
  103. Komatsu Castle
  104. Komoro Castle
  105. Konomine Castle
  106. Koriyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  107. Koromo Castle
  108. Koyama Castle
  109. Kubota Castle
  110. Kuma Castle
  111. Kumamoto Castle
  112. Kurume Castle
  113. Kushima Castle
  114. Kuwana Castle
  115. Maebashi Castle
  116. Marugame Castle
  117. Maruoka Castle
  118. Masujima Castle
  119. Matsue Castle
  120. Matsukura Castle
  121. Matsumae Castle
  122. Matsumoto Castle
  123. Matsuo Castle
  124. Matsusaka Castle
  125. Matsushiro Castle
  126. Mihara Castle
  127. Miharu Castle
  128. Minakuchi Castle
  129. Minakuchi-Okayama Castle
  130. Minowa Castle
  131. Morioka Castle
  132. Moriyama Castle
  133. Motosu Castle
  134. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  135. Murakami Castle
  136. Mutsu Obama Castle
  137. Naegi Castle
  138. Nagahama Castle
  139. Nagoya Castle
  140. Nakagusuku Castle
  141. Nakamura Castle
  142. Nakatsu Castle
  143. Nakijin Castle
  144. Nanao Castle
  145. Natsukawa Castle
  146. Nihonmatsu Castle
  147. Niitakayama Castle
  148. Nijo Castle
  149. Nishio Castle
  150. Niwase Castle
  151. Nobeoka Castle
  152. Nochiseyama Castle
  153. Numata Castle
  154. Obama Castle
  155. Obata Jin'ya
  156. Obi Castle
  157. Oda Castle
  158. Odani Castle
  159. Odawara Castle
  160. Ogaki Castle
  161. Oguchi Castle
  162. Ogura Castle
  163. Ogurayama Castle
  164. Ojima Jin'ya
  165. Oka Castle
  166. Okayama Castle
  167. Okazaki Castle
  168. Oko Castle
  169. Omi Hachiman Castle
  170. Ono Castle
  171. Oogo Castle
  172. Oohara Castle
  173. Oomizo Castle
  174. Ori Castle
  175. Osaka Castle
  176. Oshi Castle
  177. Otaki Castle
  178. Ozu Castle
  179. Rikan Castle
  180. Saga Castle
  181. Saiki Castle
  182. Sakamoto Castle
  183. Sanada Palace
  184. Sanadahonjo Castle
  185. Sannohe Castle
  186. Sano Castle
  187. Sasayama Castle
  188. Sashiki Castle
  189. Seiryuin
  190. Sekiyado Castle
  191. Sendai Castle
  192. Shibata Castle
  193. Shigiyama Castle
  194. Shimabara Castle
  195. Shimotsui Castle
  196. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  197. Shirakawa Castle
  198. Shiroishi Castle
  199. Shishiku Castle
  200. Shoryuji Castle
  201. Shuri Castle
  202. Soma Nakamura Castle
  203. Sonobe Castle
  204. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  205. Sumoto Castle
  206. Sunomata Castle
  207. Sunpu Castle
  208. Tahara Castle
  209. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  210. Takamatsu Castle
  211. Takaoka Castle
  212. Takasaki Castle
  213. Takashima Castle
  214. Takatori Castle
  215. Takatsuki Castle
  216. Takayama Castle (Gifu)
  217. Takayama Castle (Hiroshima)
  218. Takayama Jin'ya
  219. Takeda Castle
  220. Takenaka Jinya
  221. Tamaru Castle
  222. Tanabe Castle
  223. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  224. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  225. Tatsuno Castle
  226. Tatsuoka Castle
  227. Tenpaku Castle
  228. Toba Castle
  229. Tobayama Castle
  230. Toishi Castle
  231. Tokushima Castle
  232. Tomioka Castle
  233. Tottori Castle
  234. Toyama Castle
  235. Tsu Castle
  236. Tsuchiura Castle
  237. Tsukikuma Castle
  238. Tsukui Castle
  239. Tsumagi Castle
  240. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  241. Tsuwano Castle
  242. Tsuyama Castle
  243. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  244. Ueda Castle
  245. Urado Castle
  246. Usuki Castle
  247. Uwajima Castle
  248. Wakayama Castle
  249. Washio Castle
  250. Yagi Castle
  251. Yamabe Castle
  252. Yamagata Castle
  253. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  254. Yamazaki Castle
  255. Yanagawa Castle
  256. Yashima Castle
  257. Yatsushiro Castle
  258. Yodo Castle
  259. Yogaisan Castle
  260. Yokosuka Castle
  261. Yonago Castle
  262. Yoshida Castle
  263. Yumurayama Castle
  264. Zakimi Castle
  265. Zeze Castle
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