Day 4: Kazusa Dolphin Watching Cruise --> Unzen Jigoku Hell --> Shimabara Spring Group (Carp Streets) --> Shimabara Castle (島原城) --> Samurai Houses --> Dejima --> Hotel
The carp streets of Shimabara lie south of Shimabara Castle and merely a short distance away. Hence it was not long before we had to hop off our car again to tour Shimabara Castle.
Shimabara Castle is a reconstructed 5-storey feudal castle with a huge outer moat. Apparently, the castle was far larger than normal for a feudal lord; his income didn't pay for the construction of the castle. Instead, it was heavy taxation that paid for the original castle. This was apparently a major factor that led to a rebellion in Shimabara.
The original castle was however subsequently destroyed. The reconstructed castle was eventually competed in 1964, after the people of Shimabara requested for its restoration.
Upon arriving at Shimabara Castle, we were greeted by a couple of actors dressed up as feudal lords. As it was already mid-afternoon, most of the tour groups would already have completed this destination on their itinerary. Otherwise, there would have been more of such actors around. Some would even put up a mini-show to entertain visitors.
These actors are also often obliging when it comes to taking photos. See how readily this dude posed when all I did was point my camera in his general direction! He even asked if my parents wanted a group shot together with him!
Oh and by the way, this was at no cost. I do know of some places where they would charge photos at a fee though.
Admission fee for Shimabara Castle was at 540 yen per adult. As usual, my mom backed out of climbing the 5-storeys hence it was only dad and me who went through the museum exhibits within the castle.
While doing my research prior the trip, I came to read about the persecution of Christians and Christianity in Japan. It was also apparently a factor that led to the uprising. When the original castle was destroyed, a collection of Christian artifects, weapons and armour were excavated from the ruins. These are now displayed within the 4-storey castle museum.
The top floor of the castle is the expected observatory deck with a view of Shimabara's cityscape, the nearby Mt Mayuyama. If the weather is good, you can even look across the seas to Kumamoto.
As you can see from the brochure, the castle grounds consist of other zones including 3 turrets which have been converted into various exhibits. Unfortunately, as my parents were tired by then, I only did a quick walk around the gardens and did not visit any of these other facilities. Even then, there were pretty good photo points. I got so caught up taking pictures, my parents had to hurry me.
Photo tip: If you want a good shot of the castle with an accompanying turret and moat, your best vantage point will be below the castle, before you even drive up the moat.
Unfortunately, I was in the car already on the way out. Since my parents were already tired, I didn't bother to stop.
Address: 〒855-0036 Nagasaki Prefecture, Shimabara, Jonai, 1 Chome−1183−1
Local Address: 〒855-0036城内一丁目1183-1
Admission fees: Adult 540 yen, School kids 270 yen
Parking fees: Ordinary cars 320 yen, large bus 1,080 yen, small bus 540 yen
Opening hours: 9 am to 5:30 pm