|Structure||5 levels, 5 stories|
|Admin's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ☆|
|Historical Value||Top 100 Castles|
|Location||Shimabara, Nagasaki Pref.|
|Access||Shimabara Sta. (Shimabara Line); 10 min, walk|
|Website||Shimabara Castle Official Website|
|Notes||Not personally visited. All pictures donated by Raffi.|
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.