Stone walls

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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


Style

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


Types

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 Kanazawa2.jpg


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


Kikkozumi

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.


Tamaishizumi (玉石積み)

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.

Yokosuka7.jpg

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