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