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About Shimabara Castle

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Shimabara castle is the one that Matsukura Bungonokami Shigemasa built taking 4 to 7 years to complete from 1618(the 4th of Gen’na) It was a magnificent castle which had arranged a five-layer castle tower in the core, and had arranged the large and small towers at the key points and which adopted the style of the Azuchi Momoyama period.
For about 250 years, thereafter many stories were born as the-four-family feudal lords who lived in the castle. However, it was regrettably dismantled during the Restoration of the Meiji era. Shimabara Castle which lost all of its buildings including the castle tower, weathered for many years, with only a castle wall left to be seen
Shimabara citizens waited a long time for the revival of the castle, and eventually their zeal bore fruit. First, 1960 ( the 35th year of Showa), ‘the west turret’ restored, and next it was followed by ‘the castle tower’ in 1964 (the 39th year of Showa). The castle building has since been made into the museum and exhibits historical documents, including Christian and local ones collected by the citizens, on every floor
Afterwards, The turret of Tatsumi was restored in 1972 (the 47th year of Showa), and ‘West Seibo Memorial Hall’ was opened to exhibit the carvings and sculptures of Mr. Kitamura Seibo, who is a local person and also a winner of the Order of Culture. In addition, ‘The Sightseeing Revival Hall’ was opened to show the Unzen Fugen-dake disaster, with the help of images and various materials, in 1996(the 8th year of Heisei).

Shimabara castle whose castle tower harmonizes well againt the blue sky

Looking at Shimabara castle from the-front-gate (Otemon) is wonderful.  We can enjoy a white five-tiered castle against the blue sky. From the moat, we can also see a tile-roofing white wall having crenels 15 meters above, three-layered Tatsumi Turret and West Turret further above. The five-tiered castle tower of all white coat soars to height of 35 meters.
The stone wall stands almost in the perpendicular, drawing a loose curve, and is not daunted at all though 390 years have passed since its construction.
Thirteen convex points are seen. These points not only help to lose the dead angles on defense, but also to add the look of dignity to the castle, creating the more magnificent sight
The moat itself is also beautiful. The iris flowers in spring and the lotus in summer are especially splendid. The moat reflects the clear sky and the castle tower between the dead leaves and looks so charming. As is expected, it is a product by Matsukura Bungo no kami Shigemasa, an authority of martial arts, an expert of the construction of the castle,
Here used to be a small hill called ‘Moritake’. They spent seven years’ labor and time with the help of tens of thousands people to construct the castle, completing it in the 1620s. The Shimabara castle town was improved at the same time.
The castle deviates to the south, and there is a main enclosure, and 17 ken (33 meters) of castle tower soars there. The secondary enclosure (Ninomaru) was connected with the passage bridge to the north side. In the further north, the third enclosure (Sannomaru) was located and the palace was also placed. The outer fence is 360 meters from east to west, and 1,260 meters from north to south. The surrounding circumference had a wall of 3,900 meters and 16 towers of various sizes were arranged at the key points. The houses for the upper samurai were placed inside and the ones for the lower samurai were outside. It was too much an impressible castle for a daimyo of 40,000 koku.
Since the construction of the castle, it had prospered as a political center of the feudal clan of Shimabara and as a castle of successive feudal lords for 250 years. In addition, with a foothold in military affairs, this castle took on an important duty as the behind-the-scene superintendent officers for Kyushu, particularly in the days of the Matsudaira rule.
This fine castle, Shimabara Castle was also abandoned by the Restoration in the Meiji era. It was disposed of, including even one growing tree, by a private enterprise: eventually it was sold out. The castle tower luckily escaped destruction by the fire during Shimabara Rebellion, but it was finally dismantled in 1876(the 9th year of Meij).
The main enclosure became a farm for many years, with only the castle tower left behind. The outermost outworks(Sannomaru) became school land, and the first elementary school and Shimabara junior high school (Shimabara high school later) opened on the vast remains of this palace. A girls’ school and a business school, and the first junior high school were temporarily placed in this territory.
The present Shimabara Castle was restored in 1964(the 39th year of Showa), and it was rebuilt based on the record of the feudal clan diary and other documents or on the picture of the castle at the end of Taisho period.
About 200,000 to 300,000 people a year come to visit it, and the castle has become a noted place for Shimabara sightseeing..

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