Celebrating 400 years of history in a Nagasaki castle town by the sea
Shimabara Tourism Bureau
Shimabara Castle was built by the samurai lord Matsukura Shigemasa, who started construction in 1618 and took seven years to finish it. The castle celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2024. Lord Matsukura chose to build his castle in Shimabara because of its strategic location on the Ariake Sea, and to have a large fortress as a defensive base in case of war.
The symbol of Shimabara, the castle tower rises six floors in a beautifully simple style influenced by Western architecture.
The stone walls surrounding the castle are famous for their 13 corners, which eliminate blind spots in the defense of the castle and add to its air of authority. It is said that Amakusa Shiro, leader of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637-38, retreated in haste when he saw these walls. The castle's ingenious design, as well as its sheer size and beauty, testify to the brilliance and determination of Lord Matsukura.
Visitors can enjoy the special experience of wearing hakama, a traditional samurai garment, while they stroll around Shimabara. You can rent the hakama, as well as geta footwear, a Japanese parasol, and other accessories, for up to 90 minutes.
How to get there
From Hakata Station, take the JR Shinkansen to Isahaya Station (about 1 hour 20 minutes). From Isahaya, take the Shimabara Railway to Shimabara Station (about 1 hour 30 minutes). Shimabara Castle is a 5- to 10-minute walk from the station.
1-1183-1 Jonai, Shimabara-shi, Nagasaki-ken