To The Castle, “Hell” & Back

We have a relaxing evening at Dejima Wharf upon arrival at Nagasaki, we spent the next morning at Shimbara Castle, then to Unzen Jigoku after an early lunch. The weather was amazing and the sky was clear.

We keyed the telephone number of Shimabara Castle into the GPS and easily found our way there. We parked our rental car and explored the surroundings then we paid for the entrance tickets to the Shimabara Castle.

History of Shimbara Castle

Shimbara Castle, a five-layered castle tower with white plastered walls, was built by Matsukura Bungo-no-kami Shigemasa, it took seven years to construct and was completed in 1624. The area in which Shimbara Castle is located, formerly called “Moritake”, is where Arima Harunobu established his headquarters in defeating the army of Ryuzoji Takanobu, then ruler of Saga.


The Shimbara Castle prospered as the residence of 19 successive feudal lords from four clans (Matsukura, Koriki, Matsudaira and Toda). It survived fierce attacks from a rebel force during the Shimbara Rebellion (a rebel against the persecution of Christianity) in the 14th year of Kanei (1637) and withstood a series of earthquakes and a giant tsunami that washed against the foot of the castle during the Shimbara Catastrophe in the 4th year of Kansei (1792). The strong earthquakes caused the collapse of the Mayuyama lava dome and a great tsunami in the Ariake Sea which hit both of the inland seas and killed about 15,000 people. One of the worst disasters in the history of volcanic hazards in Japan.


Located to the north of the main castle tower are the secondary enclosures – three-layered turrets at strategic points with the outer ward surrounded by a four-kilometre loopholed neribei wall built with alternating layers of tiles and clay. One of the turrets is an art museum that displays the work of the sculptor, Kitamura Seibo, the artist who made the Nagasaki Peace Park statue. It was great to see his sketches, statues and conceptual models of the Nagasaki Peace Park statue before visiting the Nagasaki Peace Park and see the final end product.


The current Shimbara Castle we visited is a concrete reconstruction from 1964 as the Castle was destroyed during the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912). Stepping into the Castle Museum, we learnt about the past to present of Shimbara.


The following scroll painting and statue depict Mary disguised as the Buddhist deity Kannon, also known as Goddess of Mercy.


After getting to know the past of Shimbara, we climbed up to the Castle Tower Observation Deck on the fifth floor to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Shimbara’s traditional cityscape.


Unzen Jigoku

Our next stop was to Unzen Jigoku or Hell. It was not on our planned itinerary but we decided to stop by when we saw Unzen Jigoku as one of the places of interest to visit on the board at the car park of Shimbara Castle. When we arrived, we were lucky to find an empty parking lot near the entrance and that was also the only lot available. Right behind us were two other cars who have to turn back, to look for other places to park.


In Buddhist teachings, Jigoku or Hell is where people are punished for the evil deeds that they committed in their past life. Unzen Jigoku is covered in white soil or sulphuric soil, hot springs with extremely high temperature and gases erupting everywhere, does conjure images of Hell.


The hot springs at Unzen Jigoku can become as hot as ninety-eight-degree celsius and the gases that erupt can go up to one hundred and twenty-degree celsius, giving off a strong sulfuric smell. Check out the video below, watch the water boiled.


Stay tuned to my next update on how we spent our second half of the day at Nagasaki, the City of Peace.

This trip was made in October 2017.

The Lowdown


Shimbara Castle

Address: 1-1183-1, Jonai, Shimbara City, Nagasaki Prefecture, 855-0036, Japan

Telephone: +81 957 62 4766

Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (Last admission before 17:00) Closed on 29 and 30 December

Admission Fee: Adult at 540 Yen, Children at 270 Yen

For more information, go to

Unzen Jigoku

Address: 320 Unzen, Obama-cho, Unzen-city, Nagasaki, Japan 854-0621

Opening hours: 24 hours (however the place is not light up at night)

For more information, go to

Thank you for stopping by, Happy Living for Experiences!

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17 thoughts on “To The Castle, “Hell” & Back

  1. Beautiful pics and I love the history. Your blogs layout is so pretty. I love hearing about your adventures and personal experiences in traveling. It makes me feel like I’m there.

    Thanks for commenting on my other post. I decided to password-protect. I think was just making too much out of a small thing. The password is the same as all of my password-protected posts. I can tell it to you if you ever want to access to those.

    Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

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