Shimabara Castle 島原城
Founder Matsukura Shigemasa
Year 1616
Type Flatland
Condition Reconstructed
Alternate Name Moritake-jo
Reconstructed 1964 (concrete)
Structure 5 levels, 5 stories
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Shimabara, Nagasaki Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Shimabara Sta. (Shimabara Line); 10 min, walk
Website Shimabara Castle Official Website
Notes Not personally visited. All pictures donated by Raffi.
History The Arima clan, who were Christian lords, ruled over the Southern part of the Shimabara Peninsula from Hinoe Castle and Hara Castle. The Tokugawa had originally been tolerant of Christianity but from 1614 they changed policy and expelled the missionaries. At this time, the lord of Shimabara, Arima Naozumi, was also relocated and Matsukura Shigemasa took his place. Matsukura strictly enforced the prohibition against Christianity.

Instead of making use of the Arima's castles, Matsukura began construction of the new Shimabara Castle and heavily taxed the peasants to pay for it. This oppression of the peasants is what led to the Shimabara Rebellion in the winter of 1637-1638. In an interesting twist of events, the rebels made use of Hara Castle which had simply been abandoned years earlier by Matsukura. The buildings were gone but the moats and walls remained so with little effort the rebels had a fully defensible stronghold.

Shimabara Castle had several different ruling families until the Meiji Period when it was dissassembled.

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Comment on this castle
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    June 07, 2015 at 03:01 AM
    Not the easiest to get to by public transport but worth the trip.
  • rebolforces    April 18, 2013 at 06:24 PM
    though having little to do with Castles, There are many statues by sculptor Kitamura Seibo, the artist who made the Nagasaki Peace Park statue. Also concept models of the statue are in the Seibo memorial in one of the turrets. Seppo-machi samurai district is close by. I agree for pure castle fans, it doesn't have much, but the rebellion & peace park link made it less of a cookie-cutter castle than many.
  • furinkazan on My Page    April 16, 2013 at 08:09 PM
    I agree with the statements below. The parking lot annoyed me much. The museum contains some nice arrtifacts. At the entrance a ninja and a samurai where present. You may put on a kabuto(=helmet) and the upper part of a tosei gusoku(='modern' armor) for free. The price with this included is not too high, because sometimes you have to pay to put on an armor.
  • Frank T. on My Page    October 08, 2011 at 11:06 PM
    Looking for a place to park? No problem; the parking lot is right next to the keep. That's never a good sign.
  • regan53    August 30, 2011 at 08:34 PM
    I visited Shimabara on 30th August 2011. I'm afraid I was not impressed. Yes, the stonework looks good, but it is not clear how much of it has been altered. The castle rebuild is without atmosphere and, OK, some of the museum peices are interetsing, but they did not, in my opinion, justify the journey. Furthermore, the entrance fee (at 520 yen) is higher than most without justification.
  • rebolforces on My Page    May 21, 2011 at 07:22 PM
    Interesting history and lot of Christian artifacts in museum
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Shimabara, Nagasaki Pref.
Shimabara Castle views
main keep and tatsumi yagura Tatsumi Yagura
Nishi no Yagura main keep and sakura.