History of Shimabara Castle

Castle StructureConsecutive Flat Castle
Construction DateConstruction began in 1618 (4th years Genwa) and completed 4 to 7 years later
Castle builderShigemasa Bungo no kami Matsukura
Year of castle abandonmentBy the decree of 1873 (Meiji 6) to abolish the castle
Successive feudal lords19 generations of 4 clans
Matsukura (2 generations) / Takariki (2 generations) / Matsudaira (5 generations) / Toda (2 generations) / Matsudaira again (8 generations)
Size of Castle
Area (east-west x north-south)
  • Outer wall : 460,100 ㎡ (360 m x 1260 m)
  • Main circle : 33,600 ㎡ (160 m x 210 m)
  • Second circle : 16,000 ㎡ (130 m x 130 m)
  • San-no-Maru : 50,700 ㎡ (160 m x 320 m)
  • 1 castle tower
  • 3 three-story turrets
  • 7 two-story turrets
  • 39 flat turrets
Main remains
  • Stonewalls and moats in Honmaru and Ninomaru (staircase-shaped obi-curve and screen-folded stonewalls)
  • Onumamisyo (moved to the castle plaza)
  • Tokiwa Goten (Honkouji Temple in the city)
  • Ninomaru Gate (Unzen City)
  • 159 senior samurai, 889 junior samurai, total 1048 people ( 2th years Bunka/1805)
  • 230 people lived in the castle, 690 in Teppocho, 115 in Funakura, 50 in each guard house, 80 in Edo and Takata, 51 as rear vassal, total 1085 (Genji 1/1865)
Castle Composition

Shimabara Castle was built on a flowing mountain called Moridake with a well planned layout. The castle consists of the Honmaru, Ninomaru, and San-no-Maru, arranged in a straight line from south to north. The Honmaru and Ninomaru are surrounded by a broad and deep inner moat, while the San-no-Maru is outside of it, each surrounded by an outer stone wall. The Honmaru and Ninomaru were connected by a corridor bridge. It was cut off during the battle, leaving it completely isolated.

Although the castle’s overall layout is simple, it has a complex structure with 16 turrets, their building layout, many bends, stonewalls, and moats. To defend the castle tower, the Tatsumi three-story turret, the Ushi three-story turret, and the West three-story turret are located in the area. The main circle is surrounded by a staircase-like obi-gurin, with stone walls, walls, and turrets creating a complex of entrances and exits. The castle tower in the center was about 3 meters high, a tiered tower type with no gables at all, and the lower part was covered with namako walls, making it a magnificent five-story, five-story tower shining in white. Surrounding the Honmaru, Ninomaru, and Sannomaru is the Sogae (outer enclosure). A fence was built around it, and a tile-roofed wall with arrow gaps surrounded it. There was a superior’s residence inside (the subordinate’s residence was located in the outer west of the castle), and it was fortified with seven gates (Ote, Isahaya, Sakura, Tamachi, Sokai, Higashi Toraguchi, and Nishi Toraguchi).

History of the Castle Lord

01. why did the matsugura clan build shimabara castle?
  • As a center of politics and control, Hara Castle and Hinoe Castle were not convenient because they were too far to the south, so they turned their attention to Shimabara, the center of the Ariake Sea transportation system.
  • It was necessary to keep it away from the Christian center.
  • A new castle was built to widely demonstrate the authority of the new feudal lord.
  • If a battle were to break out, they needed a strong and large castle to serve as a defensive base.
02. what kind of politics did Matsukura play?
  • Construction of Shimabara Castle and castle town (creation of a territorial center).
  • He conducted land inspections to get a grasp of the economic condition of the territory.
  • Civil works such as ponds and levees improved agricultural productivity.
  • Following the Arima clan, they profited from the Nanban trade and appear to have been financially prosperous.
  • Christianity was cracked down on.
03. where did the Matsudaira clan come from and why?
  • The Matsukura clan took responsibility for the Shimabara Rebellion, and the Kourikishi clan that came after them also failed in politics, so they sent Fudai daimyo, fellow members of the shogunate, to rebuild the chaotic Shimabara region.
  • Among the many Tozama daimyos in Kyushu, Fudai daimyos were included to serve as supervisors and guardians of the Nagasaki magistrate (monitoring overseas trade, etc.).
  • His birthplace was Fukamizo (Aichi Prefecture), and he moved from Oshi, Omigawa, Kariya, and Yoshida to Shimabara from Fukuchiyama (Kyoto Prefecture), where Matsudaira Tadafusa came in 1669(9th years Kanbun).
04. why was Matsudaira replaced by Toda midway?
“The fifth lord of the Shimabara domain was 12-year-old Tadamasa, who was replaced by Toda Tadahide, lord of the Utsunomiya domain, in 1749. Because it would be difficult for a young feudal lord to play the role of a secret agent in Kyushu and a watchman in Nagasaki.”
05. who else played an active role as a castle owner?

The Matsudaira clan lasted from Tadafusa to the 13th Tadakazu. Their domain heads were as follows.

Matsudaira Tadafusa
From Fukuchiyama in 1669(9th years Kanbun) – Died of illness in Edo in 1700(13th years Genroku) (age 81).
A hereditary feudal lord from Mikawa, 18 Matsudaira(Tokugawa) a family , He was 70,000 koku under the Shimabara Matsudaira clan.
Matsudaira Tadao
1698(11th years Genroku) – 1736(1th years Genbun) Died of illness in Edo (age 63).
Created “Shimabara Taigai Yousugaki”
Matsudaira Tadami
1735(20th years Kyouho)-1738(3th years Genbun) died of illness in Shimabara (age 27).
Fugendo and Sanjubanjin erected.
Matsudaira Tadatoki
1738(3th years Genbun) – 1749(2th years Kanen) Died suddenly in Shimomatsu (age 33).
Planted 100,000 sumac trees.
Matsudaira Tadamasa
Transferred to Utsunomiya in 1749(2th years Kanen) – Died in 1762(12th years Houreki) (age 63).
Because of his childhood, exchange transfer land with Mr. Toda.
Toda Tadayo
Entered the domain from Utsunomiya in 1749 (2th years Kanen) – Died in 1781(1th years Tenmei) (age 52).
Toda Tadahiro
1754(4th years Houreki) – 1774(3th years Anei): moved to Utsunomiya.
Matsudaira Tadahiro
Enlisted from Utsunomiya in 1775(4th years Anei) – Died in Moriyama in 1792(4th years Kansei) (age 50).
He entered Shimabara, but died suddenly due to the Great Kansei Incident.
Matsudaira Tadayori
1792(4th years KAnsei) – 1819(2th years Bunsei) Died of illness in Edo (age 48).
He devoted himself to the restoration of the territory after Shimabara is causing great inconvenience in Higo. Establishment of clan school and training center.
Matsudaira Tadayoshi
1819(2th years Bunsei) – 1840(11th years Tenpo) Died of illness in Shimabara (age 41).
Founded the clan school “Saishukan” and reclaimed Otehama beach.
Matsudaira Tadanari
1840(11th years Tnpo) – 1847(4th years Kouka) Died of illness in Edo (age 23).
Shimabara Taikichi’s Drifting and returned from Mexico.
Matsudaira Tadakiyo
1847(4th years Kouka) – 1859(6th years Ansei) Died of illness in Shimabara (age 27).
Putyatin arrived in Nagasaki, Shimabara Clan soldiers marched out, and the country was opened to the outside world.
Matsudaira Tadaatsu
1859(6th years Ansei) – 1860(1th years Manen) Died of illness in Edo (age 16).
He died prematurely and could not be assigned to Shimabara.
Matsudaira Tadaichika
1860(1th years Manen) – 1862(2th years Bunkyu) Died of illness in Edo (age 17).
Died prematurely again.
Matsudaira Tadakazu
1862(2th years Bunkyu) – 1869(2th years Meiji).
Became governor of Shimabara domain after the Grand Seihokan and the Bunkan Bokan. Retreats to Tokyo in 1872(5th years Meiji) and demolishes Shimabara Castle.

History of Castle Town

01. what was the castle town like?

The castle town was divided into the following three towns Population 7971 (4033 males and 3938 females)

  • Furumachi: 414 in Horimachi, Sakura-machi, Furumachi, Shiratomachi, Shiratofunatsu, etc.
  • Shinmachi: 449 houses including Arimacho, Manmachi, Shinmachi, Furoyacho, and Urada Funatsu.
  • Sankai-cho: 349 houses including Sankai Honmachi, Nakamachi, Katamachi, and Miyano-cho.

Each town had a town official called betsudo, who managed the town (Furumachi : Magoemon Nakamura , Shinmachi: Mokuzaemon Kumabe , Sankaimachi: Ihei Anegawa ). The castle town was severely damaged in Shimabara is causing great inconvenience in Higo of 1792, but was restored again. Furumachi and Shinmachi were reborn, and a new minato-machi was established in the southern part of the town, which prospered greatly as the center of Ariake Sea traffic.

02. What festivals have been held ?
The annual festival of Takeshima Shrine is August 13-15, and dances (Oodori, Kodori, etc.) are held at the Ote Plaza. Sumo wrestling at Matsushima Shrine (Bentenzan) is September 13. Hyoutan Inari Shrine annual festival on the first horse day of February. Each village also had its own annual festival for the local deity. Although not a festival, a big market (hatsuichi) was held from February 3 at the Ote plaza and was very crowded. There was also a Bon festival, the Seirei Nagashi.
03. What kind of stores were in the castle town?
There were 15 liquor store, 15 malt shops, 14 blacksmith shops, 30 navy blue shops, 5 cypress makers, 13 tub makers, 3 tatami mat makers, 3 painters, 2 metal fittings makers, 5 oil shops, as well as many booth stores, boil stores, and peddlers. The current arcade district is still the same downtown area as it was in the past.
04. what was life like in the castle town?
Devote yourself to the family business. Purchasing – processing and selling – to farmers and warriors. They also expanded their sales channels outside the territory. The shipping business was especially prosperous. In the store, there was a master, a watchman, a handmaid, and a boy. There was a landlady and a maidservant. It seems that there were large waves of economic boom and bust. In such a situation, some wealthy merchants were born. Some of them continue to this day, and their trade names remain.
05. Are there any old buildings left?
Yamazaki family (liquor store, Komatsuya) in Shirado-cho. Honda family (former liquor store, Shioya) in Shirado-cho. The Horikawa family (inn, hiratoya) in Kamimachi. More than 10 houses remain, including the Horibe family (cotton shop) in Manmachi.
06. Is there anything that has changed since then?
  • Clothing: Kimono (kimono), zori or geta, round-topknot or chonmage.
  • Food: Mostly natural products such as rice, wheat, fish, and vegetables, purely domestic. Many of the products were produced in the territory.
  • Housing: wood and straw, paper, etc. There were no sources of energy such as electricity or oil. There were no machines.

Shimabara Rebellion

01. why did the shimabara rebellion occur?

This was because the politics of the clan leader, Katsuie (Shigeji) Matsukura, was not good. The people of the clan revolted. The reason.

  • The Annual Tribute has increased.
  • Due to bad weather, the harvest is low and tribute cannot be paid.
  • Still, they collected tribute strictly.
  • Christianity was strictly controlled. The dissatisfaction of the fiefdoms was heightened by the following factors.
02. where did the Shimabara Rebellion mainly take place?
It began in the village of Arima on October 25, 1637; on the 26th, people from the southern villages attacked Shimabara Castle, but failed. In addition, peasant rebellions began in various places such as Sankai and Kushiyama, etc. In November, peasants in Amakusa revolted and attacked Tomioka Castle and other places. In December, Shimabara and Amakusa farmers gathered at the ruins of Hara Castle to continue their rebellion.
03. did you have a strategy for the battle?
Farmers gathered in villages and decided on defensive positions. The village headman acted as advisor, bringing the villagers together and taking care of their daily needs, while the ronin prepared for war and guided the villagers’ military affairs. The villagers reverted to Christianity and prayed daily to God.
04. how long were you holed up in the ruins of the Hara castle?
The ruins of the Hara castle are 200 to 300 meters wide, 1,000 to 1,200 meters long, and about 12 hectares in size. About 30,000 people holed up in this small place for three months from the beginning of December to February 28 of the following year.
05. How many people fought?
The farmers numbered between 27,000 and 37,000, almost all of whom were from the southern side of the Shimabara Peninsula, while the Amakusa side was mostly from the Ariake Sea side. Among them were children, the elderly, and women. The samurai and shogunate side numbered about 120,000, with soldiers from the Kyushu clans and even the Fukuyama clan from as far away as the city of Fukuyama also participating in the war. The dead were all on the peasant side (27,000-37,000). The casualties on the Bakufu clan soldiers were about 2,400.
06. What weapon did you use?
The peasants used guns, swords, javelins, sickles, hoe, stone and wooden sticks, and everything else they could think of. Samurai used guns, swords, javelins, and cannons (cannons were launched from Dutch ships).
07. what did you eat during the battle?
They had brought rice, wheat, and vegetables with them when they were barricaded in, so they ate them. He had stolen rice from the storehouse of the Shimabara clan. At first they had food, but eventually they ate it all up and went to the coast to gather seaweed, grass, and roots. Gradually, however, food became scarce.
08. What is a Christian?
Christian believers. Christianity spread in Shimabara from 1563, and most of the territory, about 30,000 people, were believers.
09. what kind of person is amakusa shiro?
Born in 1623, Shiro Tokisada was a son of Masuda Jinbei, a vassal of Konishi Yukinaga, lord of Udo, who studied Christianity and other subjects in Nagasaki. When the rebellion began at the age of 16, he became the unifier of everyone, the central figure and symbol that brought together 20,000 to 30,000 peasants. He seems to have been the center of the Christian faith and played the role of priest.