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