91.Shimabara Castle Part3

The castle reclaimed its appearance.


Second Enclosure and Inner Moat

Consider walking to the Second Enclosure. You can go down and up the stairs from the Main Enclosure to the Second Enclosure over the dry Inner Moat. There was the roofed Passage Bridge connecting both enclosures in the past, which was the only entrance to the Main Enclosure. If you look back to the Main enclosure from somewhere around the Inner Moat, you can find the stone walls are arranged elaborately to protect the castle. The Second Enclosure is now used as the Shimabara Cultural Hall.

Going to the Second Enclosure
The former entrance of the Main Enclosure
Looking up the Main Enclosure from the bottom of the Inner Moat

Later History

After the Meiji Restoration, Shimabara Castle was abandoned and all the its buildings were demolished. The Main Enclosure once became fields and the Third Enclosure was used for schools. In 1957, the castle ruins were turned into Shimabara Castle Park. The Main Tower and the turrets were rebuilt between 1960 and 1980. The park became the new Shimabara Castle again. Shimabara City has been developing the castle as a tourist center of the city.

The stone wall base for the Main Tower
The rebuilt Ushitora Turret
The rebuilt Western Turret

My Impression

When I visited Shimabara Castle, I felt both the strength of the castle and its historical atmosphere. I recommend walking in and out of the remaining stone walls to understand how wisely they were built. Shimabara City has been damaged by natural disasters such as the Mt. Unzen eruption in 1991, yet it has also received gifts from of nature such as hot springs. The city is known as a city of water. You can enjoy visiting the castle as well as food and drinks made with water.

The great and heavy stone walls of Shimabara Castle
Looking the Inner Moat from the Main Enclosure
You can glance at Mt. Unzen behind Mt. Mayuyama

How to get There

If you want to visit the ruins by car, it is about 60 minutes away from Isahaya IC on the Nagasaki Expressway.
You can park in at the parking lots for visitors in the castle.
If you want to use public transportation, it takes about 10 minutes on foot from Shimabara Station on the Shimabara Railway.
If you go there from Tokyo or Osaka, I recommend going to Nagasaki Airport by plane. After that, you can take the shuttle bus to Isahaya Station and transfer to the Shimabara Railway

That’s all. Thank you.
Back to “Shimabara Castle Part1”
Back to “Shimabara Castle Part2”

91.島原城 その3















島原城 公式ホームページ
・「逆説の日本史13 近世展開編/井沢元彦著」小学館


91.Shimabara Castle Part2

The castle looks like a battleship.


You can feel power of nature

Shimabara City, which owns Shimabara Castle, is located on the skirts of Mt. Unzen. If you walk around the city area, you will notice the particular geography. The hill called Moritake, where Shimabara Castle was built, was created by the explosion of Mt. Mayuyama about 4,000 years ago. You can feel the power of nature there. If you also walk around the castle, it conserved its appearance with the great stone walls surrounded by the Inner Moat and some restored castle buildings. In particular, the high stone walls remain in good condition, so you can see the line of the walls is folded like a folding screen. The castle may be compact, but strongly built, looking like a battleship.

walking on the slope of the skirt from the city area to the castle
The remaining high stone walls
Shimabara Castle looks like a battleship

Collaboration of remaining Stone Walls and rebuilt Buildings

The area inside the original Inner Moat, including the Main and Second Enclosures, is designated as a historic site by Nagasaki Prefecture and is developed as a historical park. If you drive to the castle site, you can easily enter the Main Enclosure by crossing the earthen bridge, built in the present time, and park inside it.

The aerial photo around the castle

The entrance of the Main Enclosure
The inside of the Main Enclosure

Great View from rebuilt high Main Tower

The rebuilt five-level Main Tower stands out with its 33-meter height, the third tallest existing Main Tower in Japan. It is actually a modern building used as a museum and observation platform. Inside the tower, you can learn more about the history of the castle and the Shimabara Rebellion. On the top floor, you can enjoy see a great 360-degree view of the city. For example, Mt. Aso on Kyushu Island over Ariake Sea in the east. The Main, Second and Third Enclosures form in a line in the north. You can also see Mt. Mayuyama with Mt. Unzen behind it in the west.

The rebuilt Main Tower
A view of the eastern side from the tower
A view of the northern side from the tower
A view of the western side from the tower

Exhibition of rebuilt Turret

The Main Enclosure has more attractions. The three rebuilt turrets also have distinct exhibitions. For example, one of the turrets, called Tatsumi Turret, is used as an art gallery dedicated to a local famous sculptor, Seibo Kitamura. You can see his representative statue works such as the Peace Statue (the reduced version of that in Nagasaki Peace Park) inside. You can even see his other works outside such as the statues of Shiro Amakusa, who led the Shimabara Rebellion, and a young Nobunaga Oda, who was a great warlord in central Japan.

Going to the rebuilt Tatsumi Turret
The Peace Statue
The statue of Shiro Amakusa
The statue of young Nobunaga Oda

To be continued in “Shimabara Castle Part3”
Back to “Shimabara Castle Part1”