Shimabara | Nagasaki Travel Guide
Shimabara is a Japanese city on Kyushu island, Nagasaki prefecture. It is surrounded by the Ariake Valley and Mt. Unzen. It is a castle-town and the capital of its domain in the Edo period, but that is not all the town is known for. A large tsunami disaster happened in the 18th century, and the volcano erupted often in the 1990s. But this volcanic activity also brings something good to the area; its healthy hot springs.
History of Shimabara
During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, it was the site where foreign trade and Christianity were blooming. This means that many of Shimabara’s population were Christians. Because of high taxes, mistakes by the government, and the persecution of Christians, the population started the Shimabara rebellion in 1637, which was cut down by the shogun in a violent way.
Shimabara acquired the status of ‘city’ in 1940 and the city’s area was still growing in 2006. The seismic activity of nearby Mt. Unzen has had a large impact on the city throughout its history. A large tsunami destroyed the city in 1792, and also in the 1990s eruptions of Mt. Unzen have caused problems.
Parts of the national park are accessible by ropeway, and all seasons have something to offer in the Unzen-amakuza park. Unzen Onsen is a hot spring resort with acidic pools that give plenty of health benefits to the people bathing in the baths filled with this natural spring water.
Just outside of the resort area you can find the Unzen Jigoku, or Unzen Hells; hot steam escapes from fissures in the ground from over 30 ‘hells’ here. Underground gases turn to steam by influence from the nearby magma reservoir that lies very close to the earth’s crust in this area, which makes the area indeed feel a bit like hell.
Hiking is also a favorite pastime in the region of Mt. Unzen. If you like koi fish, Shimabara is also a destination of interest because of its many waterways and the koi fish that swim in the little creeks freely.
There is also a reconstruction of Shimabara Castle with a museum and a garden. If you want to feel a historical atmosphere, the Samurai Houses are also interesting to visit. For those who want to learn more about volcanic activity, the Gamadasu Dome is a great museum to visit.
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From Shimabara (Miike-Shimabara / Shimatetsu Line) station, Shimabara bus stop or Shimabara Port (ferry from Kumamoto)