Beppu Park Cherry Blossoms – Enjoy Sakura in the Heart of Oita
In this article, I would like to introduce you Shimabara city in Nagasaki prefecture, the Rebellion called “Shimabara no Ran”, and Shimabara Castle with its beautiful cherry trees. Shimabara city is in the southeastern part of Nagasaki prefecture and is a center city in the Shimabara peninsula. Not only you will be able to see Shimabara Castle, but also old samurai residences on the streets around the castle. Shimabara is a sightseeing city with abundant water spring.
When Japanese people hear the name Shimabara, they conceive “Shimabara no Ran” or Shimabara rebellion first. Because, the name of rebellion and the name of a leader of the Rebellion, Amakusa Shiro, is in the history textbook in junior high school. Besides you can often see dramas and plays about Amakusa Shiro.
According to a legend, Shiro was a 16-year-old boy wearing a European costume. He was Catholic. In the dramas or a plays Shiro looked mysterious like a magician, looked clever despite his age and sad somehow. His life until the rebellion was unclear, but people say that he was a charismatic leader.
Generally speaking, Edo was peaceful period. Few wars, battles, and conflicts did happen in this period. But Shimabara no Ran was an exception. At the time, Matsukura clan, who reigned over Shimabara, was planning to construct a new castle. And the clan imposed heavy taxes on people which provoked anger from local peasants and samurai without masters. Religious persecution of local Catholics exacerbated the conflict. It turned into open revolt in 1637 and both sides continued fighting until 1638. This was the Shimabara no Ran. In some stages, the rebellion side people were superior but finally lost the battle to the Tokugawa Shogunate, who sent over 125,000 troops to deal with the rebellion. On the other hand, the number of rebellion participants was only 37,000.
Shimabara castle’s construction started in 1616 and completed in 1624. It took 7 years to build the castle. The castle was under siege during the Shimabara rebellion but was not damaged. Shimabara castle is a flatland castle between Ariake Bay and Mount Unzen.
The outer moats are 15 meters deep and between 30-50 meters wide extending on 360 meters from east to west and 1260 meters from north to south, with the enclosed area divided into three baileys. The walls extended for 3900 meters and had 16 yagura (櫓）turrets of various sizes at key points. The main castle had 5 stories, and a height of 33 meters, and was connected to two secondary keeps, each with three stories. In terms of the castle construction scale, this establishment was far larger than normal for a feudal lord expecting from revenue.
Today, only the moat and stone walls remain from the original structure. Several turrets were restored in 1960 and the castle tower was rebuilt in 1964 from reinforced concrete. In 1980, the memorial museum opened its doors to the public. In 2006, this castle was listed as one of the 100 Fine Castles of Japan by the Japan Castle Foundation. You can try on Ninja and Samurai Armor, and take a look at traditional crafts and documents of Christian and Samurai history in the castle.
Shimabara castle itself is a wonderful construction, which was built by the order of the feudal lord, Matsukura Shigemasa (松倉重政）, who was a famous castle building professional. But a lot of people will agree that the best scene of the castle is with cherry blossoms. Along the outer moat of the castle, around 250 Somei Yoshino cherry trees bloom in the beginning of April.
I hope that you will have a chance to walk around 1.2 km outer moat viewing the cherry blossoms. The combination of the castle and pink cherry blossoms is stunning! Please enjoy viewing a breathtaking flower tunnel. During the blooming time, Sakura festival takes place. Some events including a tea party and the night light up by red lanterns are very popular.
The thing that makes the castle atmosphere flowery and cheerful is not limited to cherry blossoms. The samurai team consisting of 5 women – “7 Mangoku Bushoutai” is the original feature of the castle. They perform dancing and helping visitors in the castle. Each member wears samurai costume related to a Samurai in Shimabara history. One of 5 samurais is Amakusa Shiro, the leader of the rebellion. The team members will gladly take pictures with you, introduce Shimabara history, and help you with wearing an armor and your Ninja experiencing.
Cherry blooming period: End of March to the beginning of April. The festival dates for 2019 are not determined yet. Please check the official website for the updated information.
Place: Shimabara Castle
Address: 1183-1 Jyonai 1 chome, Shimabara-shi, Nagasaki-ken
Admission Fee: 540 Yen for adults and 270 Yen for students
Castle’s business hours: 9:00 – 17:30
Inquiry: TEL: 0957-62-4766 (Shimabara castle)
Official website (Japanese only): https://shimabarajou.com/portfolio/sakura/
Access: 5 minutes’ walk from Shimabara station
Shimabara castle with its cherry blossoms is beautiful. Variety of events take place not only during the Sakura Matsuri but at any season. Thus, this castle is welcoming you at any time. Besides, Shimabara has high-quality hot springs and tasty food. Please visit Shimabara once, and enjoy the city.
If you would like to explore Kyusyu region and Shimabara castle with a local guide, please check the link below!
Cherry blossoms are an essential part of Japanese culture. And, viewing cherry blossoms (Hanami) is very popular in Japan during the spring. This is because cherry blossoms, which the Japanese call “Sakura” are stunning at this season.
If you are planning to visit Japan this spring and want to discover more cherry blossoms spots in Kyoto area, please check the following article. It’s covering the best Hanami spots in the old capital and provides you with the essential information, so you can get the most from your Sakura trip!
Here’s the link. URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2566/
Osaka is very close to Kyoto. It will be a miss if you don’t visit Osaka to see cherry blossoms when you are in the Kansai area in spring. Please check the following article to find out the best cherry blossoms viewing spots in Osaka and Kansai!
Kyoto and Osaka have many beautiful spots to see Cherry blossoms. However, other areas also have excellent places for hanami. Tokyo features many of those spots as well! If you are in Tokyo around spring and looking for a place to see cherry blossoms, Why don’t you check the following article?
A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!
Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!