Stone walls

Revision as of 08:29, 20 January 2018 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 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. 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. Hida Takayama Castle
  48. Hikobe Yashiki
  49. Hikone Castle
  50. Himeji Castle
  51. Hirado Castle
  52. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  53. Hirosaki Castle
  54. Hiroshima Castle
  55. Hishakuyama Castle
  56. Hitoyoshi Castle
  57. Hizen Kashima Castle
  58. Hizen Nagoya Castle
  59. Honshouji Castle
  60. Houshouji Fort
  61. Hyakusaiji Castle
  62. Ibuka Castle
  63. Ichijodani Castle
  64. Ichinomiya Castle
  65. Iga Ueno Castle
  66. Iida Castle
  67. Iiyama Castle
  68. Imabari Castle
  69. Ina Nagayama Castle
  70. Ina Wada Castle
  71. Inawashiro Castle
  72. Innoshima Suigun castle
  73. Inuyama Castle
  74. Ioyama Castle
  75. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  76. Itami Castle
  77. Itoi Jin'ya
  78. Iwaki Taira Castle
  79. Iwakuni Castle
  80. Iwamura Castle
  81. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  82. Izuki Jin'ya
  83. Izushi Castle
  84. Joujou Castle
  85. Kagoshima Castle
  86. Kakegawa Castle
  87. Kamagatake Castle
  88. Kameda Castle
  89. Kamei Castle
  90. Kameyama Battery
  91. Kameyama Castle
  92. Kaminoyama Castle
  93. Kamioka Castle
  94. Kanaiyama Castle
  95. Kanayama Castle
  96. Kanazawa Castle
  97. Kanbe Castle
  98. Kannonji Castle
  99. Kano Castle
  100. Kanou Castle
  101. Karasawayama Castle
  102. Karasuyama Castle
  103. Karatsu Castle
  104. Kasama Castle
  105. Kasumi Castle
  106. Katsumoto Castle
  107. Katsunumashi Yakata
  108. Katsuren Castle
  109. Katsuyama Castle (Tsuru)
  110. Katsuyama Palace
  111. Kawahara Castle
  112. Kawanoe Castle
  113. Kawashima Castle
  114. Kikkawa Motoharu Yakata
  115. Kinojo
  116. Kirihara Castle
  117. Kishiwada Castle
  118. Kiso Daikansho
  119. Kitanosho Castle
  120. Kitsuki Castle
  121. Kiyosu Castle
  122. Kochi Castle
  123. Kofu Castle
  124. Kokokuji Castle
  125. Kokura Castle
  126. Komaki Castle
  127. Komatsu Castle
  128. Komoro Castle
  129. Koori Nishiyama Castle
  130. Koriyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  131. Koromo Castle
  132. Kounomine Castle
  133. Koyama Castle
  134. Kubota Castle
  135. Kuma Castle
  136. Kumamoto Castle
  137. Kunou Castle
  138. Kuroi Castle
  139. Kurume Castle
  140. Kushima Castle
  141. Kushizaki Castle
  142. Kuwana Castle
  143. Maebashi Castle
  144. Marugame Castle
  145. Maruoka Castle
  146. Masujima Castle
  147. Matsuda Yakata
  148. Matsudaira Yakata
  149. Matsue Castle
  150. Matsukura Castle
  151. Matsumae Castle
  152. Matsumoto Castle
  153. Matsuo Castle
  154. Matsusaka Castle
  155. Matsushiro Castle
  156. Mihara Castle
  157. Miharu Castle
  158. Minakuchi Castle
  159. Minakuchi-Okayama Castle
  160. Minowa Castle
  161. Mizuban Castle
  162. Morioka Castle
  163. Moriyama Castle
  164. Motosu Castle
  165. Motoyama Yakata
  166. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  167. Murakami Castle
  168. Murakami Katsurao Castle
  169. Murakami Kemurino Castle
  170. Murakami Wagou Castle
  171. Musashi Tenjin'yama Castle
  172. Mutsu Kaneyama Castle
  173. Mutsu Obama Castle
  174. Naegi Castle
  175. Nagahama Castle
  176. Nagato Aoyama Castle
  177. Nagato Katsuyama Castle
  178. Nagoya Castle
  179. Najima Castle
  180. Nakagusuku Castle
  181. Nakamura Castle
  182. Nakatsu Castle
  183. Nakijin Castle
  184. Nanao Castle
  185. Natsukawa Castle
  186. Nihonmatsu Castle
  187. Niitakayama Castle
  188. Nijo Castle
  189. Nijo Castle (Tochigi)
  190. Nijouko Castle
  191. Nishio Castle
  192. Niwase Castle
  193. Nobeoka Castle
  194. Nochiseyama Castle
  195. Numata Castle
  196. Obama Castle
  197. Obata Jin'ya
  198. Obi Castle
  199. Oda Castle
  200. Odani Castle
  201. Odawara Castle
  202. Ogaki Castle
  203. Oguchi Castle
  204. Ogura Castle
  205. Ogurayama Castle
  206. Ogyu Castle
  207. Ohga Castle
  208. Ohmine Castle
  209. Ohtsu Castle
  210. Ojima Jin'ya
  211. Oka Castle
  212. Okayama Castle
  213. Okazaki Castle
  214. Oko Castle
  215. Omi Hachiman Castle
  216. Omifuru Castle
  217. Ono Castle
  218. Oogo Castle
  219. Oohara Castle
  220. Oomizo Castle
  221. Ori Castle
  222. Osaka Castle
  223. Oshi Castle
  224. Otaki Castle
  225. Ozu Castle
  226. Rikan Castle
  227. Saga Castle
  228. Saiki Castle
  229. Sakaki Jin'ya
  230. Sakamoto Castle
  231. Sakura Castle (Aichi)
  232. Sakurasawa Fort
  233. Sanada Isezaki Castle
  234. Sanada Negoya Castle
  235. Sanada Palace
  236. Sanada Yazawa Castle
  237. Sanadahonjo Castle
  238. Sannohe Castle
  239. Sano Castle
  240. Sarashina Osaka Castle
  241. Sasayama Castle
  242. Sashiki Castle
  243. Sasou Castle
  244. Seiryuin
  245. Sekiyado Castle
  246. Sendai Castle
  247. Sengoku Yakata
  248. Shibata Castle
  249. Shigetsu Fushimi Castle
  250. Shigiyama Castle
  251. Shimabara Castle
  252. Shimotsui Castle
  253. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  254. Shingu Castle
  255. Shiozaki Castle
  256. Shirakawa Castle
  257. Shiroishi Castle
  258. Shishiku Castle
  259. Shoryuji Castle
  260. Shuri Castle
  261. Sonobe Castle
  262. Souma Nakamura Castle
  263. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  264. Sumoto Castle
  265. Sunomata Castle
  266. Sunpu Castle
  267. Suzaki Battery
  268. Tahara Castle
  269. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  270. Takamatsu Castle
  271. Takanashi Yakata
  272. Takaoka Castle
  273. Takasaki Castle
  274. Takashima Castle
  275. Takatori Castle
  276. Takatsuki Castle
  277. Takayama Castle (Hiroshima)
  278. Takayama Jin'ya
  279. Takeda Castle
  280. Takenaka Jinya
  281. Tamaru Castle
  282. Tanabe Castle
  283. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  284. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  285. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  286. Tatsuno Castle
  287. Tatsuoka Castle
  288. Tenpaku Castle
  289. Toba Castle
  290. Tobayama Castle
  291. Toishi Castle
  292. Tokushima Castle
  293. Tomioka Castle
  294. Tottori Castle
  295. Toyama Castle
  296. Toyoda Castle
  297. Tsu Castle
  298. Tsuchiura Castle
  299. Tsukikuma Castle
  300. Tsukui Castle
  301. Tsumagi Castle
  302. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  303. Tsuwano Castle
  304. Tsuyama Castle
  305. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  306. Ueda Castle
  307. Urado Castle
  308. Usuki Castle
  309. Uwajima Castle
  310. Wakayama Castle
  311. Washio Castle
  312. Yagi Castle
  313. Yamabe Castle
  314. Yamabukioh Castle
  315. Yamagata Castle
  316. Yamaguchi Castle
  317. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  318. Yamazaki Castle
  319. Yanagawa Castle
  320. Yashima Castle
  321. Yashiro Castle
  322. Yatsushiro Castle
  323. Yodo Castle
  324. Yogaisan Castle
  325. Yokosuka Castle
  326. Yonago Castle
  327. Yoshida Castle
  328. Yumurayama Castle
  329. Zakimi Castle
  330. Zeze Castle
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