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