Stone walls


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.

Kanazawa4.jpg Kanazawa5.jpg


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.

Kanazawa25.jpg Matsuyama18.jpg Marugame76.jpg


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 Kanazawa2.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 Kanazawa12.jpg Edo81.jpg Shirakawa11.jpg


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.


Castles with Stone Walls

  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
  2. Akashi Castle
  3. Aki Castle
  4. Akizuki Castle
  5. Ako Castle
  6. Akutagawasan Castle
  7. Amagajo
  8. Amagasaki Castle
  9. Aoyagi Castle
  10. Arato Castle
  11. Arikoyama Castle
  12. Aya Castle
  13. Azuchi Castle
  14. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
  15. Chiba Castle
  16. Chiran Castle
  17. Echizen Katsuyama Castle
  18. Echizen Ohno Castle
  19. Edo Castle
  20. Fukuchiyama Castle
  21. Fukui Castle
  22. Fukuoka Castle
  23. Fukuyama Castle
  24. Funai Castle
  25. Fushimi Castle
  26. Futamata Castle
  27. Ganjaku Castle
  28. Gassan Toda Castle
  29. Gifu Castle
  30. Goryokaku Fort
  31. Gujo Hachiman Castle
  32. Hachigata Castle
  33. Hachioji Castle
  34. Haga Castle
  35. Hagi Castle
  36. Haibara Castle
  37. Hamada Castle
  38. Hamamatsu Castle
  39. Hanakuma Castle
  40. Hayashikojo Castle
  41. Hayashiohjo Castle
  42. Hikone Castle
  43. Himeji Castle
  44. Hirado Castle
  45. Hirai Kanayama Castle
  46. Hirosaki Castle
  47. Hiroshima Castle
  48. Hitoyoshi Castle
  49. Hizen Nagoya Castle
  50. Hyakusaiji Castle
  51. Ichijodani Castle
  52. Ichinomiya Castle
  53. Iga Ueno Castle
  54. Imabari Castle
  55. Inawashiro Castle
  56. Innoshima Suigun castle
  57. Inuyama Castle
  58. Ioyama Castle
  59. Ishigakiyama Ichiya Castle
  60. Itami Castle
  61. Iwakitaira Castle
  62. Iwamura Castle
  63. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
  64. Izushi Castle
  65. Kagoshima Castle
  66. Kakegawa Castle
  67. Kameda Castle
  68. Kamei Castle
  69. Kameyama Castle
  70. Kaminoyama Castle
  71. Kamioka Castle
  72. Kanaiyama Castle
  73. Kanayama Castle
  74. Kanazawa Castle
  75. Kanbe Castle
  76. Kaneyama Castle (Mutsu)
  77. Kannonji Castle
  78. Kanou Castle
  79. Karasawayama Castle
  80. Karasuyama Castle
  81. Karatsu Castle
  82. Kasama Castle
  83. Kasumi Castle
  84. Katsunumashi Yakata
  85. Katsuren Castle
  86. Kawahara Castle
  87. Kawanoe Castle
  88. Kawashima Castle
  89. Kinojo
  90. Kirihara Castle
  91. Kishiwada Castle
  92. Kitanosho Castle
  93. Kitsuki Castle
  94. Kiyosu Castle
  95. Kochi Castle
  96. Kofu Castle
  97. Kokokuji Castle
  98. Kokura Castle
  99. Komaki Castle
  100. Komoro Castle
  101. Konomine Castle
  102. Kuma Castle
  103. Kumamoto Castle
  104. Kurume Castle
  105. Kushima Castle
  106. Kuwana Castle
  107. Maebashi Castle
  108. Marugame Castle
  109. Maruoka Castle
  110. Masujima Castle
  111. Matsue Castle
  112. Matsukura Castle
  113. Matsumae Castle
  114. Matsumoto Castle
  115. Matsuo Castle
  116. Matsusaka Castle
  117. Matsushiro Castle
  118. Mihara Castle
  119. Miharu Castle
  120. Minakuchi Castle
  121. Minowa Castle
  122. Morioka Castle
  123. Moriyama Castle
  124. Murakami Castle
  125. Mutsu Obama Castle
  126. Naegi Castle
  1. Nagahama Castle
  2. Nagoya Castle
  3. Nakagusuku Castle
  4. Nakamura Castle
  5. Nakatsu Castle
  6. Nakijin Castle
  7. Nanao Castle
  8. Natsukawa Castle
  9. Nihonmatsu Castle
  10. Niitakayama Castle
  11. Nijo Castle
  12. Nishio Castle
  13. Niwase Castle
  14. Nobeoka Castle
  15. Nochiseyama Castle
  16. Numata Castle
  17. Obama Castle
  18. Obata Jin'ya
  19. Obi Castle
  20. Oda Castle
  21. Odani Castle
  22. Odawara Castle
  23. Ogaki Castle
  24. Ogura Castle
  25. Ogurayama Castle
  26. Ojima Jin'ya
  27. Oka Castle
  28. Okayama Castle
  29. Okazaki Castle
  30. Oko Castle
  31. Omi Hachiman Castle
  32. Ono Castle
  33. Oogo Castle
  34. Oohara Castle
  35. Oomizo Castle
  36. Ori Castle
  37. Osaka Castle
  38. Oshi Castle
  39. Otaki Castle
  40. Oyama Castle
  41. Ozu Castle
  42. Rikan Castle
  43. Saga Castle
  44. Saiki Castle
  45. Sakamoto Castle
  46. Sanada Palace
  47. Sanadahonjo Castle
  48. Sannohe Castle
  49. Sano Castle
  50. Sasayama Castle
  51. Sashiki Castle
  52. Seiryuin
  53. Sekiyado Castle
  54. Sendai Castle
  55. Shibata Castle
  56. Shigiyama Castle
  57. Shimabara Castle
  58. Shimotsui Castle
  59. Shinagawa Battery Islands
  60. Shirakawa Castle
  61. Shiroishi Castle
  62. Shishiku Castle
  63. Shoryuji Castle
  64. Shuri Castle
  65. Soma Nakamura Castle
  66. Sonobe Castle
  67. Sukegawakaibou Castle
  68. Sumoto Castle
  69. Sunomata Castle
  70. Sunpu Castle
  71. Tahara Castle
  72. Takada Castle (Niigata)
  73. Takamatsu Castle
  74. Takaoka Castle
  75. Takasaki Castle
  76. Takashima Castle
  77. Takatori Castle
  78. Takatsuki Castle
  79. Takayama Jin'ya
  80. Takeda Castle
  81. Takenaka Jinya
  82. Tamaru Castle
  83. Tanabe Castle
  84. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  85. Tateyama Castle (Yamagata)
  86. Tatsuno Castle
  87. Tatsuoka Castle
  88. Tenpaku Castle
  89. Toba Castle
  90. Tobayama Castle
  91. Toishi Castle
  92. Tokushima Castle
  93. Tomioka Castle
  94. Tottori Castle
  95. Toyama Castle
  96. Tsu Castle
  97. Tsuchiura Castle
  98. Tsukikuma Castle
  99. Tsukui Castle
  100. Tsumagi Castle
  101. Tsutsujigasaki Palace
  102. Tsuwano Castle
  103. Tsuyama Castle
  104. Uda Matsuyama Castle
  105. Ueda Castle
  106. Urado Castle
  107. Usuki Castle
  108. Uwajima Castle
  109. Wakayama Castle
  110. Washio Castle
  111. Yagi Castle
  112. Yamabe Castle
  113. Yamagata Castle
  114. Yamato Koriyama Castle
  115. Yamazaki Castle
  116. Yanagawa Castle
  117. Yashima Castle
  118. Yatsushiro Castle
  119. Yodo Castle
  120. Yogaisan Castle
  121. Yokosuka Castle
  122. Yonago Castle
  123. Yoshida Castle
  124. Yumurayama Castle
  125. Zakimi Castle
  126. Zeze Castle

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