Shimabara Castle




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.

Visit Notes

Not personally visited. All pictures donated by Raffi.

  • main keep and tatsumi yagura
  • Tatsumi Yagura
  • Nishi no Yagura
  • main keep and sakura.

Castle Profile
English Name Shimabara Castle
Japanese Name 島原城
Alternate Names Moritake-jo
Founder Matsukura Shigemasa
Year Founded 1616
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 5 levels, 5 stories
Year Reconstructed 1964 (concrete)
Features main keep, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Shimabara Sta. (Shimabara Line); 10 min, walk
Visitor Information
Time Required
Location Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture
Coordinates 32° 47' 21.16" N, 130° 22' 2.06" E
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Added to Jcastle 2006
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(18 votes)
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Kiddus i2003Gunshi

111 months ago
Score 0++
Not the easiest to get to by public transport but worth the trip.


137 months ago
Score 0++
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.


137 months ago
Score 0++
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.Gunshi

155 months ago
Score 0++
Looking for a place to park? No problem; the parking lot is right next to the keep. That's never a good sign.

Anonymous user #1

157 months ago
Score 0++
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.


160 months ago
Score 0++
Interesting history and lot of Christian artifacts in museum