We are due for Kumamoto after spending two nights in Nagasaki. We rented a car so that it would be easier to get around. It’s only an hour and a half drive from Nagasaki to Shimbara port, then another half an hour on the ferry where you cross the ocean to get to Kumamoto port. Way cheaper than the cost of Shinkansen for 4 people. The car costs us about 4000 yen per day. We got an eco car from Budget in Nagasaki, and it is very fuel efficient. Roads and regulations might be a bit tricky to follow but as long as you’ve got a good GPS, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Shimabara. Home to many samurai houses and a nice little castle from the 17th century, we thought it would be interesting to stop by at these spots before we board the ferry.

Some snippets of the old samurai district below. Those who are of a higher status would live within the castle compound, while samurais of lower status would be living in the samurai district. Some of the houses are still well preserved. Though no one is living there now, the house is open for visits. For free! Hoorah!

I find the history of Shimabara quite amusing. Apparently there were quite a lot of religious persecutions back in the 17th century. Christianity was repressed. Many tried to practice in secret, they even resort to sculpting Mother Mary to look like Kannon, the Japanese Goddess of Mercy.

Santa Maria, disguised as Kannon

Other interesting objects shown below are: pottery showing a cross, Mother Mary carrying Jesus disguised as Japanese Goddess of Fertility and Children, and scissors with a cross mark.

Add heavy tax into the mixture, the peasants finally got fed up and the Shimabara revolution began.

This dude. Amakusa Shiro from Shimabara.
Shimabara Rebellion was led Amakusa Shiro, a samurai wearing a Christian cross.

What I found fascinating was how religions could always manage to sneak their ways into everything and cause war. That, and the fact that there was a katana-bearing samurai walking around in Shimabara in the 1600s wearing a Christian cross. I’m learning so many new things in Kyushu!

And lastly, the view you get from the top of Shimabara castle.

Here, what you can see from the top of Shimabara castle
The ocean and what might be… Kumamoto?

I’m glad we made a stop at Shimabara. Do visit if you have the time and your own transport! 🙂