The Namako kabe
is a common sight when visiting older sections of many of Japan's cities & towns. Certainly they are stylish but they also serve a practical purpose. The tiles and plaster-filled interstices help protect the wall by allowing it to better shed moisture.
The wall gets its name from the sea cucumber (Namako - 海鼠), presumably due to the similarly-contoured, plaster ridges that border the tiles. Either that or the sausage-like sea creatures were forced to work as labourers in their construction. You decide
walls were first built in the early Edo period (1603 - 1868), and were predominantly found in western Japan. The early styles were of square tiles arranged horizontally. As time progressed, and as this type of wall construction spread to other areas of Japan, more and more variations in design and technique were developed.
One of the earliest styles of Sea cucumber
This variation is a common sight in Kumamoto Prefecture.
This design was most efficient at sheding moisture.
This design is considered a variation of the Shihanbari style.
A more unusual style that resembles a tortise's shell.
Every second row is off-set by half a tile, creating T
Namako kabe is a prominant feature of Kanazawa castle
's turrets & gates.
's Kanagura storehouse utilizes the Shihanbari style.
A red Kura
in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.