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