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Showdown in Shimabara

Better duck around a corner or avert your eyes, because the samurai are not to be trifled with as they can merely wish to test the sharpness of their sword upon a menacing thief or random victim at anytime. The samurai were essentially deemed as the enforcers, especially during the reign of the Shogun amid a multitude of clans spread out throughout Japan. In the town of Shimabara, Arima clan leader Matsukura, strictly enforced the prohibition of Christianity by organizing mass executions and also severely raising taxes to pay for the construction of his new Shimabara Castle from 1618-1624.

Shimabara Castle

It wasn’t before long that these heavy taxes levied upon the peasants, in addition to severe religious persecution against local Christians, led to what is known as the Shimabara Rebellion in 1637. The Shogun sent a force of over 125,000 troops consisting of many samurai to suppress the rebellion, and after a rather lengthy siege, the peasants and Christians were no match.

In the wake of this specific rebellion, persecution of Christianity became strictly enforced and Japan’s national seclusion policy was tightened until the 1850’s.

In Shimabara, various clans subsequently reigned in relative peace for the next 250+ years until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Amid my adventures in Nagasaki, I took a train that zigzagged through the beautiful Japanese countryside for about 90 minutes not knowing what to really expect. It didn’t really matter at the time, the views from the train were quite tranquil.

Kyushu Countryside

Upon my arrival to Shimabara Castle I was very glad that I had decided to take a day-trip there. Despite it’s sad history of religious persecution, the samurai castle was a great sight to see, including the rather fulfilling experience of walking almost entirely throughout the sleepy seaside town.

A part of me wanted to stay longer  in order to hike the nearby mountain and catch a great view of the bay. I would have if I had been accompanied with someone just as eager to do it as me. Perhaps next time…

Small castle tower and town of Shimabara

One comment on “Showdown in Shimabara

  1. Shin Masakado
    January 28, 2013

    Beautiful countryside, and even more beautiful history to it too! You should see the poems written by Kou_Indigo on Deep Underground Poetry, she wrote extensively about the Shimabara Uprising, and even seems to be reincarnation of Amakusa Shrio. Lumina_Starchild, another poet on there, wrote her a beautiful tribute poem called Amakusa’s Touch. After reading some of their works, I do believe Kou is in fact Amakusa reborn. Remember, Shiro Amakusa did say he would return! But maybe that’s just the romantic in me. Whatever the case, she’s a brilliant poet and has a deep love for Japanese culture, history, and folklore. She’s even been to Shimabara, so she knows her stuff. I didn’t even know about this part of history until I read her writings. Now, I’ve learned all about it and I’m happy I did! I think Kou’s real name is Jessica, which when you think about it sort of rhymes with Amakusa. Hmmm, maybe there’s something to that Makai Tensho story after all! Lol.

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2012 by in Japan and tagged , , , , .

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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