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