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.

Kanazawa217.jpg Kanazawa216.jpg Kanazawa215.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.

Kanazawa117.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 Kanazawa87b.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 Kanazawa150.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. Anrakuji Yakata
  11. Aoyagi Castle
  12. Aoyagi Yakata
  13. Arato Castle
  14. Arikoyama Castle
  15. Asahiyama Castle
  16. Asama Palace
  17. Ashimori Jin'ya
  18. Aya Castle
  19. Azuchi Castle
  20. Azumi Iwahara Castle
  21. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  22. Chiba Castle
  23. Chikuma Asaka Castle
  24. Chikuma Kakiage Castle
  25. Chikuma Koshikou Castle
  26. Chikuma Koya Castle
  27. Chimura Yashiki
  28. Chiran Castle
  29. Echi Takano Castle
  30. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  31. Echizen Ohno Castle
  32. Edo Castle
  33. Enryakuji Higashitani Fort
  34. Fukuchiyama Castle
  35. Fukui Castle
  36. Fukuoka Castle
  37. Fukuyama Castle
  38. Funai Castle
  39. Furukawa Castle
  40. Fushimi Castle
  41. Futamata Castle
  42. Gamou Osada Castle
  43. Gamou Tsuda Castle
  44. Ganjaku Castle
  45. Gassan Toda Castle
  46. Gifu Castle
  47. Goryokaku Fort
  48. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  49. Hachigata Castle
  50. Hachioji Castle
  51. Haga Castle
  52. Hagi Castle
  53. Hagiwarasuwa Castle
  54. Haibara Castle
  55. Hamada Castle
  56. Hamamatsu Castle
  57. Hanakuma Castle
  58. Hanamaki Castle
  59. Hanazono Castle
  60. Hanishina Takeyama Castle
  61. Hayashikojo Castle
  62. Hayashiohjo Castle
  63. Hida Kojima Castle
  64. Hida Takayama Castle
  65. Hikobe Yashiki
  66. Hikone Castle
  67. Himeji Castle
  68. Hirado Castle
  69. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  70. Hirase Noroshidai
  71. Hirosaki Castle
  72. Hiroshima Castle
  73. Hishakuyama Castle
  74. Hitoyoshi Castle
  75. Hizen Kashima Castle
  76. Hizen Nagoya Castle
  77. Honshouji Castle
  78. Houshouji Fort
  79. Hyakusaiji Castle
  80. Iba Castle
  81. Iba Palace
  82. Ibuka Castle
  83. Ichijodani Castle
  84. Ichinomiya Castle
  85. Iga Ueno Castle
  86. Iida Castle
  87. Iiyama Castle
  88. Imabari Castle
  89. Ina Nagayama Castle
  90. Ina Wada Castle
  91. Inawashiro Castle
  92. Innoshima Suigun Castle
  93. Inuyama Castle
  94. Ioyama Castle
  95. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  96. Itami Castle
  97. Itoi Jin'ya
  98. Itokazu Castle
  99. Iwaki Taira Castle
  100. Iwakuni Castle
  101. Iwamura Castle
  102. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  103. Izuki Jin'ya
  104. Izushi Castle
  105. Joujou Castle
  106. Joukouin Yakata
  107. Jurakudai
  108. Kagikakemonomi Fort
  109. Kagoshima Castle
  110. Kakegawa Castle
  111. Kamagatake Castle
  112. Kameda Castle
  113. Kamei Castle
  114. Kameyama Battery
  115. Kameyama Castle
  116. Kaminoyama Castle
  117. Kamioka Castle
  118. Kanaiyama Castle
  119. Kanayama Castle
  120. Kanazawa Castle
  121. Kanbe Castle
  122. Kannonji Castle
  123. Kano Castle
  124. Kanzaki Ishibayama Castle
  125. Kanzaki Kakimi Castle
  126. Kanzou Yashiki
  127. Karasawayama Castle
  128. Karasuyama Castle
  129. Karatsu Castle
  130. Kasama Castle
  131. Kasumi Castle
  132. Katsumoto Castle
  133. Katsunumashi Yakata
  134. Katsuren Castle
  135. Katsuyama Castle (Tsuru)
  136. Katsuyama Palace
  137. Kawahara Castle
  138. Kawanoe Castle
  139. Kawashima Castle
  140. Kikkawa Motoharu Yakata
  141. Kinojo
  142. Kirihara Castle
  143. Kishiwada Castle
  144. Kiso Daikansho
  145. Kitanosho Castle
  146. Kitsuki Castle
  147. Kiyosu Castle
  148. Kochi Castle
  149. Kofu Castle
  150. Kokokuji Castle
  151. Kokura Castle
  152. Komaki Castle
  153. Komatsu Castle
  154. Komono Castle
  155. Komoro Castle
  156. Koori Nishiyama Castle
  157. Koraku Castle
  158. Koriyama Castle (Hiroshima)
  159. Koromo Castle
  160. Kounomine Castle
  161. Koyama Castle
  162. Kozutsumi Castle
  163. Kubota Castle
  164. Kukuri Castle
  165. Kuma Castle
  166. Kumamoto Castle
  167. Kunou Castle
  168. Kurahone Castle
  169. Kurita Kuboe Castle
  170. Kuroi Castle
  171. Kurume Castle
  172. Kushima Castle
  173. Kushizaki Castle
  174. Kutsuki Izuminokami Jin'ya
  175. Kuwana Castle
  176. Maebashi Castle
  177. Marugame Castle
  178. Maruoka Castle
  179. Masujima Castle
  180. Matsuda Yakata
  181. Matsudaira Yakata
  182. Matsue Castle
  183. Matsukura Castle
  184. Matsumae Castle
  185. Matsumoto Castle
  186. Matsuo Castle
  187. Matsusaka Castle
  188. Matsushiro Castle
  189. Mie Castle
  190. Mihara Castle
  191. Miharu Castle
  192. Mikumo Castle (Koka)
  193. Minakuchi Castle
  194. Minakuchi Okayama Castle
  195. Mino Kaneyama Castle
  196. Minowa Castle
  197. Mizuban Castle
  198. Morioka Castle
  199. Moriyama Castle
  200. Motosu Castle
  201. Motoyama Yakata
  202. Mukade Castle
  203. Mukaihaguroyama Castle
  204. Murakami Castle
  205. Murakami Hanagoya Castle
  206. Murakami Katsurao Castle
  207. Murakami Kemurino Castle
  208. Murakami Mochikoshi Castle
  209. Murakami Wagou Castle
  210. Musashi Tenjin'yama Castle
  211. Mutsu Kaneyama Castle
  212. Mutsu Obama Castle
  213. Naegi Castle
  214. Nagahama Castle
  215. Nagato Aoyama Castle
  216. Nagato Katsuyama Castle
  217. Nagoya Castle
  218. Najima Castle
  219. Nakagusuku Castle
  220. Nakamura Castle
  221. Nakatsu Castle
  222. Nakijin Castle
  223. Nanao Castle
  224. Natsukawa Castle
  225. Natsumichi Fort
  226. Nechi Castle
  227. Nihonmatsu Castle
  228. Niitakayama Castle
  229. Nijo Castle
  230. Nijo Castle (Tochigi)
  231. Nijoko Castle
  232. Nishio Castle
  233. Niwase Castle
  234. Nobeoka Castle
  235. Nochiseyama Castle
  236. Numata Castle
  237. Obama Castle
  238. Obaraichiba Castle
  239. Obata Jin'ya
  240. Obi Castle
  241. Oda Castle
  242. Odani Castle
  243. Odawara Castle
  244. Ogaki Castle
  245. Oguchi Castle
  246. Ogura Castle
  247. Ogurayama Castle
  248. Ogyu Castle
  249. Ohga Castle
  250. Ohhara Castle
  251. Ohmine Castle
  252. Ohno Fort
  253. Ohtsu Castle
  254. Ojima Jin'ya
  255. Oka Castle
  256. Okayama Castle
  257. Okazaki Castle
  258. Oko Castle
  259. Okushima Yakata
  260. Omi Hachiman Castle
  261. Omifuru Castle
  262. Omono Castle
  263. Ono Castle
  264. Oogo Castle
  265. Oomizo Castle
  266. Ori Castle
  267. Osaka Castle
  268. Oshi Castle
  269. Otaki Castle
  270. Ozu Castle
  271. Rikan Castle
  272. Saga Castle
  273. Saiki Castle
  274. Sakaki Jin'ya
  275. Sakamoto Castle
  276. Sakata Kashiwabara Castle
  277. Sakura Castle (Aichi)
  278. Sakurabora Castle
  279. Sakurasawa Fort
  280. Samegai Castle
  281. Sanada Isezaki Castle
  282. Sanada Negoya Castle
  283. Sanada Palace
  284. Sanada Yazawa Castle
  285. Sanadahonjo Castle
  286. Sannohe Castle
  287. Sano Castle
  288. Sarashina Osaka Castle
  289. Sasayama Castle
  290. Sashiki Castle
  291. Sasou Castle
  292. Seiryuin
  293. Sekiyado Castle
  294. Sendai Castle
  295. Sengoku Yakata
  296. Shibata Castle
  297. Shiga Castle
  298. Shiga Yakata
  299. Shigetsu Fushimi Castle
  300. Shigiyama Castle
  301. Shimabara Castle
  302. Shimizu Jin'ya
  303. Shimotsui Castle
  304. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  305. Shingu Castle
  306. Shioda Castle
  307. Shiodajou Koubouyama Fort
  308. Shiozaki Castle
  309. Shirakawa Castle
  310. Shiroishi Castle
  311. Shishiku Castle
  312. Shoryuji Castle
  313. Shou Castle
  314. Shuri Castle
  315. Shuzan Castle
  316. Sonobe Castle
  317. Souma Nakamura Castle
  318. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  319. Sumoto Castle
  320. Sunomata Castle
  321. Sunpu Castle
  322. Suzaka Jin'ya
  323. Suzaki Battery
  324. Taguchi Castle
  325. Tahara Castle
  326. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  327. Takamatsu Castle
  328. Takanashi Yakata
  329. Takano Yakata
  330. Takaoka Castle
  331. Takasaki Castle
  332. Takashima Castle
  333. Takatori Castle
  334. Takatsuki Castle
  335. Takayama Castle (Hiroshima)
  336. Takayama Jin'ya
  337. Takeda Castle
  338. Takedashishugo Yakata
  339. Takenaka Jinya
  340. Tamagusuku Castle
  341. Tamaru Castle
  342. Tanabe Castle
  343. Tanabe Castle (Wakayama)
  344. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  345. Tarui Castle
  346. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  347. Tatsuno Castle
  348. Tatsuoka Castle
  349. Tawada Castle
  350. Tayasu Jin'ya
  351. Tenpaku Castle
  352. Toba Castle
  353. Tobayama Castle
  354. Toishi Castle
  355. Tokushima Castle
  356. Tomioka Castle
  357. Tottori Castle
  358. Toyama Castle
  359. Toyoda Castle
  360. Tsu Castle
  361. Tsuchiura Castle
  362. Tsukikuma Castle
  363. Tsukui Castle
  364. Tsumagi Castle
  365. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  366. Tsuwano Castle
  367. Tsuyama Castle
  368. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  369. Ueda Castle
  370. Urado Castle
  371. Urasoe Castle
  372. Usuki Castle
  373. Uwajima Castle
  374. Wakayama Castle
  375. Washio Castle
  376. Yagi Castle
  377. Yagi Castle (Tanba)
  378. Yamabe Castle
  379. Yamabukioh Castle
  380. Yamagata Castle
  381. Yamaguchi Castle
  382. Yamaguchi Yashiki
  383. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  384. Yamazaki Castle
  385. Yanagawa Castle
  386. Yashima Castle
  387. Yashiro Castle
  388. Yatsushiro Castle
  389. Yodo Castle
  390. Yogaisan Castle
  391. Yokosuka Castle
  392. Yonago Castle
  393. Yoshida Castle
  394. Yumurayama Castle
  395. Zakimi Castle
  396. Zeze Castle
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