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