Stone walls

Revision as of 15:39, 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 (乱積み)

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

Kofu16.jpg Takamatsu23.jpg Takeda15.jpg

Nunozumi (布積み)

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

Kanazawa25.jpg Matsuyama18.jpg Marugame76.jpg


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 (野面積み)

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.

Kofu16.jpg Komoro15.jpg Maruoka6.jpg Marugame60.jpg

Uchikomihagi (打込接ぎ)

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.

Edo44.jpg Osaka33.jpg Ueda15.jpg 150px

Kirikomihagi (切込接ぎ)

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.

Edo38.jpg Kanazawa12.jpg Edo81.jpg Shirakawa11.jpg


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