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