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