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. 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. Iwamura Castle
  70. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  71. Izushi Castle
  72. Kagoshima Castle
  73. Kakegawa Castle
  74. Kameda Castle
  75. Kamei Castle
  76. Kameyama Castle
  77. Kaminoyama Castle
  78. Kamioka Castle
  79. Kanaiyama Castle
  80. Kanayama Castle
  81. Kanazawa Castle
  82. Kanbe Castle
  83. Kaneyama Castle (Mutsu)
  84. Kannonji Castle
  85. Kanou Castle
  86. Karasawayama Castle
  87. Karasuyama Castle
  88. Karatsu Castle
  89. Kasama Castle
  90. Kasumi Castle
  91. Katsumoto Castle
  92. Katsunumashi Yakata
  93. Katsuren Castle
  94. Kawahara Castle
  95. Kawanoe Castle
  96. Kawashima Castle
  97. Kinojo
  98. Kirihara Castle
  99. Kishiwada Castle
  100. Kitanosho Castle
  101. Kitsuki Castle
  102. Kiyosu Castle
  103. Kochi Castle
  104. Kofu Castle
  105. Kokokuji Castle
  106. Kokura Castle
  107. Komaki Castle
  108. Komatsu Castle
  109. Komoro Castle
  110. Konomine Castle
  111. Koriyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  112. Koromo Castle
  113. Koyama Castle
  114. Kubota Castle
  115. Kuma Castle
  116. Kumamoto Castle
  117. Kuroi Castle
  118. Kurume Castle
  119. Kushima Castle
  120. Kuwana Castle
  121. Maebashi Castle
  122. Marugame Castle
  123. Maruoka Castle
  124. Masujima Castle
  125. Matsue Castle
  126. Matsukura Castle
  127. Matsumae Castle
  128. Matsumoto Castle
  129. Matsuo Castle
  130. Matsusaka Castle
  131. Matsushiro Castle
  132. Mihara Castle
  133. Miharu Castle
  134. Minakuchi Castle
  135. Minakuchi-Okayama Castle
  136. Minowa Castle
  137. Mizuban Castle
  138. Morioka Castle
  139. Moriyama Castle
  140. Motosu Castle
  141. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  142. Murakami Castle
  143. Mutsu Obama Castle
  144. Naegi Castle
  145. Nagahama Castle
  146. Nagoya Castle
  147. Najima Castle
  148. Nakagusuku Castle
  149. Nakamura Castle
  150. Nakatsu Castle
  151. Nakijin Castle
  152. Nanao Castle
  153. Natsukawa Castle
  154. Nihonmatsu Castle
  155. Niitakayama Castle
  156. Nijo Castle
  157. Nishio Castle
  158. Niwase Castle
  159. Nobeoka Castle
  160. Nochiseyama Castle
  161. Numata Castle
  162. Obama Castle
  163. Obata Jin'ya
  164. Obi Castle
  165. Oda Castle
  166. Odani Castle
  167. Odawara Castle
  168. Ogaki Castle
  169. Oguchi Castle
  170. Ogura Castle
  171. Ogurayama Castle
  172. Ojima Jin'ya
  173. Oka Castle
  174. Okayama Castle
  175. Okazaki Castle
  176. Oko Castle
  177. Omi Hachiman Castle
  178. Ono Castle
  179. Oogo Castle
  180. Oohara Castle
  181. Oomizo Castle
  182. Ori Castle
  183. Osaka Castle
  184. Oshi Castle
  185. Otaki Castle
  186. Ozu Castle
  187. Rikan Castle
  188. Saga Castle
  189. Saiki Castle
  190. Sakamoto Castle
  191. Sanada Palace
  192. Sanadahonjo Castle
  193. Sannohe Castle
  194. Sano Castle
  195. Sasayama Castle
  196. Sashiki Castle
  197. Seiryuin
  198. Sekiyado Castle
  199. Sendai Castle
  200. Shibata Castle
  201. Shigetsu Fushimi Castle
  202. Shigiyama Castle
  203. Shimabara Castle
  204. Shimotsui Castle
  205. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  206. Shingu Castle
  207. Shirakawa Castle
  208. Shiroishi Castle
  209. Shishiku Castle
  210. Shoryuji Castle
  211. Shuri Castle
  212. Soma Nakamura Castle
  213. Sonobe Castle
  214. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  215. Sumoto Castle
  216. Sunomata Castle
  217. Sunpu Castle
  218. Suzaki Battery
  219. Tahara Castle
  220. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  221. Takamatsu Castle
  222. Takaoka Castle
  223. Takasaki Castle
  224. Takashima Castle
  225. Takatori Castle
  226. Takatsuki Castle
  227. Takayama Castle (Gifu)
  228. Takayama Castle (Hiroshima)
  229. Takayama Jin'ya
  230. Takeda Castle
  231. Takenaka Jinya
  232. Tamaru Castle
  233. Tanabe Castle
  234. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  235. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  236. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  237. Tatsuno Castle
  238. Tatsuoka Castle
  239. Tenpaku Castle
  240. Toba Castle
  241. Tobayama Castle
  242. Toishi Castle
  243. Tokushima Castle
  244. Tomioka Castle
  245. Tottori Castle
  246. Toyama Castle
  247. Tsu Castle
  248. Tsuchiura Castle
  249. Tsukikuma Castle
  250. Tsukui Castle
  251. Tsumagi Castle
  252. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  253. Tsuwano Castle
  254. Tsuyama Castle
  255. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  256. Ueda Castle
  257. Urado Castle
  258. Usuki Castle
  259. Uwajima Castle
  260. Wakayama Castle
  261. Washio Castle
  262. Yagi Castle
  263. Yamabe Castle
  264. Yamabukioh Castle
  265. Yamagata Castle
  266. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  267. Yamazaki Castle
  268. Yanagawa Castle
  269. Yashima Castle
  270. Yatsushiro Castle
  271. Yodo Castle
  272. Yogaisan Castle
  273. Yokosuka Castle
  274. Yonago Castle
  275. Yoshida Castle
  276. Yumurayama Castle
  277. Zakimi Castle
  278. Zeze Castle
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