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