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


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 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


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.


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. Komoro Castle
  104. Konomine Castle
  105. Koromo Castle
  106. Koyama Castle
  107. Kubota Castle
  108. Kuma Castle
  109. Kumamoto Castle
  110. Kurume Castle
  111. Kushima Castle
  112. Kuwana Castle
  113. Maebashi Castle
  114. Marugame Castle
  115. Maruoka Castle
  116. Masujima Castle
  117. Matsue Castle
  118. Matsukura Castle
  119. Matsumae Castle
  120. Matsumoto Castle
  121. Matsuo Castle
  122. Matsusaka Castle
  123. Matsushiro Castle
  124. Mihara Castle
  125. Miharu Castle
  126. Minakuchi Castle
  127. Minowa Castle
  128. Morioka Castle
  129. Moriyama Castle
  130. Motosu Castle
  131. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  132. Murakami Castle
  133. Mutsu Obama Castle
  134. Naegi Castle
  135. Nagahama Castle
  136. Nagoya Castle
  137. Nakagusuku Castle
  138. Nakamura Castle
  139. Nakatsu Castle
  140. Nakijin Castle
  141. Nanao Castle
  142. Natsukawa Castle
  143. Nihonmatsu Castle
  144. Niitakayama Castle
  145. Nijo Castle
  146. Nishio Castle
  147. Niwase Castle
  148. Nobeoka Castle
  149. Nochiseyama Castle
  150. Numata Castle
  151. Obama Castle
  152. Obata Jin'ya
  153. Obi Castle
  154. Oda Castle
  155. Odani Castle
  156. Odawara Castle
  157. Ogaki Castle
  158. Oguchi Castle
  159. Ogura Castle
  160. Ogurayama Castle
  161. Ojima Jin'ya
  162. Oka Castle
  163. Okayama Castle
  164. Okazaki Castle
  165. Oko Castle
  166. Omi Hachiman Castle
  167. Ono Castle
  168. Oogo Castle
  169. Oohara Castle
  170. Oomizo Castle
  171. Ori Castle
  172. Osaka Castle
  173. Oshi Castle
  174. Otaki Castle
  175. Ozu Castle
  176. Rikan Castle
  177. Saga Castle
  178. Saiki Castle
  179. Sakamoto Castle
  180. Sanada Palace
  181. Sanadahonjo Castle
  182. Sannohe Castle
  183. Sano Castle
  184. Sasayama Castle
  185. Sashiki Castle
  186. Seiryuin
  187. Sekiyado Castle
  188. Sendai Castle
  189. Shibata Castle
  190. Shigiyama Castle
  191. Shimabara Castle
  192. Shimotsui Castle
  193. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  194. Shirakawa Castle
  195. Shiroishi Castle
  196. Shishiku Castle
  197. Shoryuji Castle
  198. Shuri Castle
  199. Soma Nakamura Castle
  200. Sonobe Castle
  201. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  202. Sumoto Castle
  203. Sunomata Castle
  204. Sunpu Castle
  205. Tahara Castle
  206. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  207. Takamatsu Castle
  208. Takaoka Castle
  209. Takasaki Castle
  210. Takashima Castle
  211. Takatori Castle
  212. Takatsuki Castle
  213. Takayama Castle
  214. Takayama Jin'ya
  215. Takeda Castle
  216. Takenaka Jinya
  217. Tamaru Castle
  218. Tanabe Castle
  219. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  220. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  221. Tatsuno Castle
  222. Tatsuoka Castle
  223. Tenpaku Castle
  224. Toba Castle
  225. Tobayama Castle
  226. Toishi Castle
  227. Tokushima Castle
  228. Tomioka Castle
  229. Tottori Castle
  230. Toyama Castle
  231. Tsu Castle
  232. Tsuchiura Castle
  233. Tsukikuma Castle
  234. Tsukui Castle
  235. Tsumagi Castle
  236. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  237. Tsuwano Castle
  238. Tsuyama Castle
  239. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  240. Ueda Castle
  241. Urado Castle
  242. Usuki Castle
  243. Uwajima Castle
  244. Wakayama Castle
  245. Washio Castle
  246. Yagi Castle
  247. Yamabe Castle
  248. Yamagata Castle
  249. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  250. Yamazaki Castle
  251. Yanagawa Castle
  252. Yashima Castle
  253. Yatsushiro Castle
  254. Yodo Castle
  255. Yogaisan Castle
  256. Yokosuka Castle
  257. Yonago Castle
  258. Yoshida Castle
  259. Yumurayama Castle
  260. Zakimi Castle
  261. Zeze Castle
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