Stone walls


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. Hikone Castle
  45. Himeji Castle
  46. Hirado Castle
  47. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  48. Hirosaki Castle
  49. Hiroshima Castle
  50. Hitoyoshi Castle
  51. Hizen Nagoya Castle
  52. Hyakusaiji Castle
  53. Ichijodani Castle
  54. Ichinomiya Castle
  55. Iga Ueno Castle
  56. Imabari Castle
  57. Inawashiro Castle
  58. Innoshima Suigun castle
  59. Inuyama Castle
  60. Ioyama Castle
  61. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  62. Itami Castle
  63. Iwakitaira Castle
  64. Iwamura Castle
  65. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  66. Izushi Castle
  67. Kagoshima Castle
  68. Kakegawa Castle
  69. Kameda Castle
  70. Kamei Castle
  71. Kameyama Castle
  72. Kaminoyama Castle
  73. Kamioka Castle
  74. Kanaiyama Castle
  75. Kanayama Castle
  76. Kanazawa Castle
  77. Kanbe Castle
  78. Kaneyama Castle (Mutsu)
  79. Kannonji Castle
  80. Kanou Castle
  81. Karasawayama Castle
  82. Karasuyama Castle
  83. Karatsu Castle
  84. Kasama Castle
  85. Kasumi Castle
  86. Katsunumashi Yakata
  87. Katsuren Castle
  88. Kawahara Castle
  89. Kawanoe Castle
  90. Kawashima Castle
  91. Kinojo
  92. Kirihara Castle
  93. Kishiwada Castle
  94. Kitanosho Castle
  95. Kitsuki Castle
  96. Kiyosu Castle
  97. Kochi Castle
  98. Kofu Castle
  99. Kokokuji Castle
  100. Kokura Castle
  101. Komaki Castle
  102. Komoro Castle
  103. Konomine Castle
  104. Koyama Castle
  105. Kubota Castle
  106. Kuma Castle
  107. Kumamoto Castle
  108. Kurume Castle
  109. Kushima Castle
  110. Kuwana Castle
  111. Maebashi Castle
  112. Marugame Castle
  113. Maruoka Castle
  114. Masujima Castle
  115. Matsue Castle
  116. Matsukura Castle
  117. Matsumae Castle
  118. Matsumoto Castle
  119. Matsuo Castle
  120. Matsusaka Castle
  121. Matsushiro Castle
  122. Mihara Castle
  123. Miharu Castle
  124. Minakuchi Castle
  125. Minowa Castle
  126. Morioka Castle
  127. Moriyama Castle
  128. Murakami Castle
  1. Mutsu Obama Castle
  2. Naegi Castle
  3. Nagahama Castle
  4. Nagoya Castle
  5. Nakagusuku Castle
  6. Nakamura Castle
  7. Nakatsu Castle
  8. Nakijin Castle
  9. Nanao Castle
  10. Natsukawa Castle
  11. Nihonmatsu Castle
  12. Niitakayama Castle
  13. Nijo Castle
  14. Nishio Castle
  15. Niwase Castle
  16. Nobeoka Castle
  17. Nochiseyama Castle
  18. Numata Castle
  19. Obama Castle
  20. Obata Jin'ya
  21. Obi Castle
  22. Oda Castle
  23. Odani Castle
  24. Odawara Castle
  25. Ogaki Castle
  26. Ogura Castle
  27. Ogurayama Castle
  28. Ojima Jin'ya
  29. Oka Castle
  30. Okayama Castle
  31. Okazaki Castle
  32. Oko Castle
  33. Omi Hachiman Castle
  34. Ono Castle
  35. Oogo Castle
  36. Oohara Castle
  37. Oomizo Castle
  38. Ori Castle
  39. Osaka Castle
  40. Oshi Castle
  41. Otaki Castle
  42. Ozu Castle
  43. Rikan Castle
  44. Saga Castle
  45. Saiki Castle
  46. Sakamoto Castle
  47. Sanada Palace
  48. Sanadahonjo Castle
  49. Sannohe Castle
  50. Sano Castle
  51. Sasayama Castle
  52. Sashiki Castle
  53. Seiryuin
  54. Sekiyado Castle
  55. Sendai Castle
  56. Shibata Castle
  57. Shigiyama Castle
  58. Shimabara Castle
  59. Shimotsui Castle
  60. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  61. Shirakawa Castle
  62. Shiroishi Castle
  63. Shishiku Castle
  64. Shoryuji Castle
  65. Shuri Castle
  66. Soma Nakamura Castle
  67. Sonobe Castle
  68. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  69. Sumoto Castle
  70. Sunomata Castle
  71. Sunpu Castle
  72. Tahara Castle
  73. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  74. Takamatsu Castle
  75. Takaoka Castle
  76. Takasaki Castle
  77. Takashima Castle
  78. Takatori Castle
  79. Takatsuki Castle
  80. Takayama Jin'ya
  81. Takeda Castle
  82. Takenaka Jinya
  83. Tamaru Castle
  84. Tanabe Castle
  85. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  86. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  87. Tatsuno Castle
  88. Tatsuoka Castle
  89. Tenpaku Castle
  90. Toba Castle
  91. Tobayama Castle
  92. Toishi Castle
  93. Tokushima Castle
  94. Tomioka Castle
  95. Tottori Castle
  96. Toyama Castle
  97. Tsu Castle
  98. Tsuchiura Castle
  99. Tsukikuma Castle
  100. Tsukui Castle
  101. Tsumagi Castle
  102. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  103. Tsuwano Castle
  104. Tsuyama Castle
  105. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  106. Ueda Castle
  107. Urado Castle
  108. Usuki Castle
  109. Uwajima Castle
  110. Wakayama Castle
  111. Washio Castle
  112. Yagi Castle
  113. Yamabe Castle
  114. Yamagata Castle
  115. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  116. Yamazaki Castle
  117. Yanagawa Castle
  118. Yashima Castle
  119. Yatsushiro Castle
  120. Yodo Castle
  121. Yogaisan Castle
  122. Yokosuka Castle
  123. Yonago Castle
  124. Yoshida Castle
  125. Yumurayama Castle
  126. Zakimi Castle
  127. Zeze Castle

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