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.

Kanazawa217.jpg Kanazawa216.jpg Kanazawa215.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.

Kanazawa117.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 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


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