History of Shimabara
Shimabara is a Japanese city on Kyushu island, Nagasaki prefecture. It is surrounded by the Ariake Valley and Mt. Unzen. It is a castle-town and the capital of its domain in the Edo period. During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, it was the site where foreign trade and Christianity were blooming. This means that many of Shimabara’s population were Christians.
Because of high taxes, mistakes by the government, and the persecution of Christians, the population started the Shimabara rebellion in 1637, which was cut down by the shogun in charge in a violent way.
Shimabara acquired the status of ‘city’ in 1940 and the city’s area was still growing in 2006. The seismic activity of nearby Mt. Unzen has had a large impact on the city throughout its history. A large tsunami destroyed the city in 1792, and also in the 1990s eruptions of Mt. Unzen has caused problems.
Although Shimabara has been plagued by (man-made) disasters in its history, it is a nice town to visit when you are traveling through Kyushu. The upside to being in a seismically active area is that there are also plenty of natural hot springs to be found. Hiking is also a favorite pastime in the region of Mt. Unzen.
There is also a reconstruction of Shimabara Castle with a museum and a garden. If you want to feel a historical atmosphere, the Samurai Houses are a nice area to visit. For those who want to learn more about volcanic activity, the Gamadasu Dome is a very interesting museum to visit.
From Shimabara (Miike-Shimabara / Shimatetsu Line) station, Shimabara bus stop or Shimabara Port (ferry from Kumamoto)